Poring over the Past – NWR at the Women’s Library

Poring over the Past – NWR at the Women’s Library

This week our chair of trustees, Josephine Burt, along with National Organiser Natalie Punter and Mary Stott Award winner (and former National Organiser) Antoinette Ferraro visited the Women's Library at the London School of Economics (LSE). This library holds records of the women’s’ movement in 19th and 20th centuries including the NHR/NWR archives.  Here's what she had to say.

Antoinette, Natalie and I recently spent a wonderfully interesting day at The Women’s Library (part of the British Library and currently housed at the London School Of Economics, LSE, in Central London) looking at 60 years of NWR heritage.

The Women's Library houses England’s primary library and museum resource on women, women’s issues and history, and the women’s movement from, primarily, the 19th and 20th centuries. The main collection dates back to the mid-1920s, though the core collection was formed from a library established by Ruth Cavendish Bentinck in 1909. These archives moved to LSE, as part of the British Library collection, in 2013.

We had the opportunity to view photos and marketing materials dating back to the early 60s even the official annual reports and financial returns, though we decided to leave those for another day!

It was lovely to see photos of the women who set up and ran the organisation from 1980 - having read the book that details our first twenty years 1960-1980 (“The Lively-Minded Women” by Betty Jerman published in 1980) and it was great to see the original materials upon which it was based. Antoinette was delighted to find some photos of the National Group in the 1980's which included her.

Some of the publicity materials looked very dated, as they would, but the Golden Anniversary literature (from 2010) looked fresh and vibrant. We also found a hidden gem – a poster from the 1960s – which we are thinking of rejuvenating for our anniversary! (watch this space).  It was sobering and yet reassuring to find that the problems and issues we have today have been there over the years and are really a feature of informal organisations such as ours.

I felt very nostalgic when I found some local press cuttings from Leighton Buzzard from the 1980's and recognised the names of friends I met through NWR. I’d like to thank our members and LOs for keeping such excellent records of our history and I think we owe it to the next generation of NWR to ensure we continue to send in materials from the last 10 years and onwards.

For those of you (individually or as a group) who would like to see the archives for yourselves NWR members are welcome to visit by appointment - see http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/collection-highlights/the-womens-library or call LSE Library 020 7955 7229

Josephine Burt, Chair of Trustees


Celebrating 60 years of the National Women’s Register and the National Housewive’s Register – 1960-2020

 National Conference 2020 – Precious Gems - A Celebration! 11th-13th September 2020

#NWRDiamondDays #NWRdiamondconf2020 #LivelyMindedWomen

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Featured

Equality and accessibility - NWR's commitment to you.

This year NWR made a commitment to our members to improve our accessibility as an organisation, including our responsibilities under the Equalities Act and financial accessibility, and to become and remain a Carbon Neutral organisation.

One initiative, launched in April, is the NWR members’ hardship fund. This is designed to ensure that members are never forced to leave NWR due to financial issues, illness etc. It also allows potential new members to receive subsidised membership, should hardship otherwise prevent them from joining.Our first hardship fund applicant came almost immediately via Susan, an LO.

Susan explained that a longstanding member, Belinda, had become seriously unwell and, when group subs renewals came around, found herself in difficulties. Her group felt — as I would — that it would be inappropriate to approach Belinda or her husband. So, what to do? Previously Belinda’s membership would have lapsed, along with that all-important connection with other women through our organisation’s local groups, regional events and conferences, regular newsletters and magazines and, of course, our very popular national conferences.

Fortunately, LO Susan knew about our new hardship fund and approached me directly. We discussed what NWR meant to Belinda and the nature of her illness. I decided to grant a three-month membership subsidy. Three months rolled by and Susan and I spoke again. Belinda had approached the group to ask about remaining a member and, to our delight, she said “Of course I want to stay!” Happy Days!

However, this isn’t about NWR or about one NWR group losing a member: it’s about making sure that women who want or need to be connected to likeminded women may do so - regardless of financial restrictions. Sitting at home today you might not consider that the loss of one member, long-term or new, matters - but it matters to them and it matters to me.

I am delighted to be with NWR to celebrate the diamond 60th anniversary and I am excited to see what we can do to involve as many women as possible in the years to come. So, as you peruse the magazine and attend your meetings, please think “What can I do, in my group or as an individual, to make sure that the objectives of NWR — to connect, to educate and intellectually stimulate women in my community — are honoured?” We all need to be thinking back over the past (nearly) 60 years and asking “What did I need?” and “What can I do now?”

Happy 59 and a halfth anniversary, and I look forward to seeing you all next year! AMH 

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Women, beget women!

Women, beget women!

NWR was established to enable women who were at home with small children to connect with other women and, from time to time, members tell me that "women don't need this any more".

I disagree.

I have at various times in my life been at home with a small child; been caring for an adult family member, working in a male-dominated environment, working alone from home; and I have moved to a new area where I knew no-one. It is these women, women like me, that we are reaching out to now!

Women can find it particularly challenging in this day and age to maintain and begin new friendships. There are hundreds of dating websites, and dating - including speed-dating - events across the country but where does a woman go who just wants to talk? Or walk? To keep her mind active? To find kindred spirits? They come - we hope - to NWR.

So, on International Women's Day, look at you group and ask - are we providing that friendly, welcoming environment that enabled us to join 10, 15 - even 30 years ago?
Here at NWR we are reaching out to women countrywide through local radio and television, local open-evening events, and by making sure that we can start to get our name known as a space where "you can do you"

Finally, if you want help attracting new members to your area just let me know! 

 

 

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Which NWR group describe themselves as "a very lively, noisy and friendly group with a good range of interests"?

Shoreham 1

We are the Shoreham (1) group based in Shoreham-by-Sea on the Sussex coast between Brighton and Worthing. Our group has 16 members currently and we are looking to recruit new members. We are a very lively, noisy and friendly group with a good range of interests.

Our meetings usually take place in the evenings and in 2018 we enjoyed the following - “Bag Lady” (5 items in a bag, guess the owner), Anti-Bucket List, My personality in a collage, What’s in the newspapers?, Talk about someone famous who shares your birthday, Pictures of members in past fashions, Unexplained happenings, Guess the year (5 clues), Talk from local charity, 4sight and Interesting Pub names. A few months ago at our ‘Time Travel’ evening we welcomed our area organisers, Jenny and Marilyn.

We’ve recently enjoyed a talk on aromatherapy, lunch at a local college prepared and served by the students, a pottery painting evening at a local garden centre and a craft evening. We also enjoyed a pre-Christmas buffet with Secret Santa presents – the budget was £5 and gifts had to be bought from a charity shop. Other than our evening meetings we have a monthly coffee morning, restaurant visits (an annual post-Christmas meal), a book group plus visits to museums and gardens, including NGS ones. We have also played croquet, an area event and have joined the Shoreham 2 NWR group for shared events

Last summer we went to Driftwood, the amazing award-winning coastal garden in Seaford, owned by Geoff Stonebanks. After a talk where we learned it takes Geoff seven hours over two days to water his plants, we visited each corner of the garden before sitting down to tea and cake made by him. “A perfect summer’s day in a beautiful garden” and “an inspirational garden” to quote two of our members.

Lorraine Nightingale and Cathy Ford, Shoreham 1 NWR group.

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Hello from Hatfield!

We are the Hatfield group from Hertfordshire.

The question of when we started caused some debate among the original members we still have. The consensus was we split away from another groups in about 1970. We currently have 19 members.

We try to meet weekly and in the past 6 months our activities have included research on Paddington Bear, mistresses, Romania and things beginning with A. We have shared poetry on the sea and readings on gardens. We have discussed idioms without ignoring the elephant in the room. Speakers have talked on Human Rights and Stonehenge. We have discussed a variety of books, some more popular than others. Outings have included a walk round Surrey Docks, lunch at a local pub (with discussion topic) and a visit to look at church graffiti.

We look forward in the next 6 months to a programme with quizzes, talks, book, plays and poetry on winter, as well as discussions, including something beginning with B. We clearly have a topic that will last some time! Do contavt us to find out more about our group if you would like to join us!

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