Detail from the 1908 Annual Congress (ref U DCW/6/2)

The Co-operative Women's Guild and the International Co-operative Women's Guild

Background to the Collections

In 1883 Alice Acland and Mary Lawrenson founded the Women’s League for the Spread of Co-operation, changing the name to the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1885. In 1889 Margaret Llewelyn Davies took over from Lawrenson as General Secretary. The guild aimed to improve the political, legal and social position of women through lobbying and education.

In 1921 the work of the Women’s Co-operative Guild led to the establishment of the International Co-operative Women’s Guild, with Emmy Freundlich as president and Honora Enfield as General Secretary. In 1963 it became a Committee of the International Co-operative Alliance in an effort to work more closely with the co-operative movement as a whole. For the same reasons, and in the same year, the Women’s Co-operative Guild changed its name to the Co-operative Women’s Guild.

What do the collections contain?

The Co-operative Women’s Guild collection (ref U DCW) covers the period 1886-1971. Records include minutes, reports, photographs, publications, handbooks, rules, resolutions, subject files and notes for speakers.

The International Cooperative Women’s Guild collection (ref U DCX) covers the period 1921-1961. Records include minutes, conference files, reports, circulars and pamphlets.

What areas of research would the collections support?

This collection would support research into the cooperative movement, Labour history, socialism, working class history, women’s rights and feminism, the operation of voluntary associations, WWI, WWII and the history of pacifism.

Are there any access issues?

This material has been catalogued and is available to public access.

Is there any related material?

Related material can be found in the following collections:

  • Cooperative Women’s Guild (Hull Branch) (ref U DCWH
  • Scrapbook of the Co-operative Women’s Guild (Hull Branch) (ref C DSCG

Please see our politics and campaigning page for further guidance on our political collections.