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Museum Collection: Poster Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 TWL.poster
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: Museum Collection: Poster Collection
Date(s): 1877-2000
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1,054 posters (plus approx. 100 posters identified in the archives)
Name of creator(s): The Women's Library
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:


Scope and content/abstract:

As at Jan 2009, The Women's Library held approximately 1050 posters in the Museum Collection, with c 100 posters identified in the archives. The earliest posters held result from suffrage activities and can be divided into three main groups; advertisements for meetings and events, illustrated propaganda posters arguing why women should get the vote, and thirdly newspaper bills bearing suffrage related headlines, used to promote paper sales.

All other posters are arranged by subject and date from the 1970s to the present day. The collection represents a mixture of women's campaigning, campaigning by organisations to promote gender equality, and posters produced to advertise women-focused events and publications. There are a small number of posters that portray women's issues and campaign work internationally. The work of The Equal Opportunities Commission in England and Ireland is particularly well represented as a result of a large donation of their obsolete posters during the 1990s. Also well represented with almost 80 posters is the work of See Red Women's Workshop, a women's liberation screen-printing collective (1974-1984).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The posters are arranged in plan chests by the following subjects:
PC1/3 Women's health
PC1/4 Women's peace campaigning
PC1/5 Equal opportunities
PC1/6 International Women's Campaigning
PC1/7 Women's literature, journals and other publications
PC2/2 Careers for women
PC2/3 Equality in the workplace
PC2/4 Pregnancy, abortion, birth, child care
PC2/5 Women and violence
PC2/6 Women's organisations, opportunities and events
PC2/7 Women's theatre, music and performance
PC2/8 Exhibitions and women
PC3/1 Teenagers
PC3/2 Suffrage in the press
PC3/3 Suffrage campaigning
PC3/4 Suffrage meetings and events
PC3/5 Significant and famous women
PC3/6 Women and sexuality
PC3/7 Women and war
PC3/8 Modern women's campaigning

Conditions governing access:

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit. Posters require ordering in advance. If a reader wishes to view a substantial number of posters they may be asked to make an appointment with the curator. Readers are encouraged to use the surrogate images provided with the online catalogue instead.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Women's Library Archives also contain posters. Primarily these were postcards created by organisations for publicity purposes, although some posters were retained by individual feminists and campaigners. Key archives include 2LSW (approx. 10 posters) Fawcett Society and its Predecessors; 3AMS Association for Moral and Social Hygiene (approx. 40 posters); 5FWI National Federation of Women's Institutes (approx. 30 posters); 5GFS Girls' Friendly Society (approx. 20 posters); 5MGB Miss Great Britain (approx. 10 posters); 7JAN Papers of Jayne and Juliet Nelson (19 posters) relating to Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, UK and international peace movements. A search using the 'object name' field and the word 'poster' will bring up all posters catalogued at item level in the museum and archive collections. Posters are spread across the archives, often included in operational or subject files and are not identified at item level in the catalogue. As from 2004, archive catalogues at The Women's Library try to identify individual posters using the 'ObjectName' field. However users specifically interested in this format should also search for 'poster*' in the any text field to discover additional reference to poster/s across the collections.

Posters are also known to survive in the following uncatalogued archive collections: 5MAL, 5WCC, 7JMC, 7SHJ. [These are currently unavailable to researchers]. The Equal Opportunities Commission hold their own archives (London, Manchester, Wales, Glasgow) - each managing their own past records. Their archive of press coverage is held at their office in London. Their web site was archived as part of the British Library project in 2006.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Museum Collection description by Gail Cameron, The Women's Library Dec 2006. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2009.

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