Dating photographs

… or not dating them as the case may be! Recently I’ve been trying to identify the individual members of the NUWT in the photographs in the Collection.

Identifying the women has been a lot tougher than I’d originally thought it would be so I’m hoping some of my you might be able to help!  Many of the group photographs contain large numbers of women, often wearing hats which partially obscure their face, and some of these photographs are a bit faded with age. Ah the age – there’s another problem, many of these photos are not dated!  As these are often more casual shots the women are not always looking directly at the camera, making it more difficult to identify.  For some women, generally members of the Central Council, we have official portraits.  However even these are problematic as they do not always give the name of the individual or the date.

So here’s two photographs/one individual I’ve been puzzling over – let’s see what you think.

UWT_G_1_13 Miss Cutten web

Photo 1 ©Institute of Education Archive

UWT_G_2_33 miss Cutten and unidentified woman

Photo 2 ©Institute of Education Archive

  • Is the women in photo 1 the same as the women on the left in photo 2?
  • What date would you give these photos?

Unlike most of the collection the photograph section was already on the catalogue system when I started this project.  Some are catalogued individually, others in groups.  Photo 1 is dated 1918/1919 on the catalogue but has no date on the photo and photo 2 is dated 1920s on the catalogue entry, again with no date on the photo itself.  On the back of photo 1 it says Miss [Cutten] – I’m pretty sure it’s Cutten but the writing is quite hard to make out.  I’m sure the women on the left in photo 2 is the same as photo 1 but the problem here is that if photo 1 is Miss Lizzie Cutten she died in 1920.  So either the name is wrong, one or both of the dates are wrong, or I have two different women. [Are you confused yet? I’m confusing myself here with trying to work this out so please bear with me!] Lizzie Cutten was born in 1888 so it could be that photo 1 was taken  much earlier than 1918 but I don’t know enough about historic fashion and hairstyles to even take an educated guess. Can anyone help me out here with dating these based on the fashion and hair styles?

And I’ve not even started trying to figure out who the women on the right is in photo 2!


Women’s Educational Union, Scotland

I couldn’t let St Andrews day pass without a blog post! Last year I talked about ‘The Word’ – the  journal of the United Socialist Movement which was edited and published by Guy Aldred in Glasgow. This year I’m going to stick to women teachers as I found a folder of material on the Women’s Educational Union.  They were the nearest equivalent to the NUWT in Scotland, fighting for equal pay for women teachers, and from the looks of their journal Pass It On they similarly campaigned on a range of feminist and equal rights issues.

©Institute of Education Archive

©Institute of Education Archive

The comment from the NUWT member reads

Just [received] from Scotland.  Good isn’t it. What do you think of a monthly sheet of [pass] like this! Beginning of paper.

From this you can see that it met with the approval of the NUWT! It might even have been part of the inspiration behind the NUWT starting The Woman Teacher just one year later in 1919.

This is just a quick post and the real purpose of it, asides from it being St Andrews Day, is that I can’t locate any archive collection of the Womens’ Education Union. So if anyone knows where their papers are held I’d love to know.  I can’t find any clues to where they’re held online – I do so hope they have survived!

NUWT collection catalogue now online!

I feel like I should have a big drum roll here as I’m so excited to announce that the National Union of Women Teachers collection is now available online!  The catalogue is free-text searchable meaning that if the search term you are looking for appears anywhere in the catalogue entry then your search will pull it up and highlight it for you.

To get to the information itself? Well it’s so easy, you can just search for any terms you want in the basic search box and it will bring up all the records held at the IOE which contain that term.  Alternatively you can follow these steps to narrow your search down to items within the NUWT Collection.  Here is a visual ‘how to’ for narrowing your search –

search ‘how to’

I thought a bit more explanation on the organisation of the collection and the way in which I catalogued it would be useful to include here. If you remember from the beginning of this blog, the aim was to catalogue 370 boxes of ‘subject files’.  Well we thought all those boxes were subject files but in actual fact they contained subject files and a whole lot more! I found minute books, photographs, membership figures, account books and equal pay campaign material – all in addition to the huge range of subject files. To reflect the different types of material the collection is divided up into 7 sections –

  1. NUWT Committee records
  2. NUWT Administrative records
  3. NUWT Financial records
  4. NUWT Subject files
  5. NUWT Branch and County Association records
  6. NUWT Photographs
  7. NUWT Publications

The subject folders are catalogued at folder level, which means that there is a detailed summary of the contents of the folder, often with lists of any publications or reports in the folder.  If there are photographs or campaign posters this will be highlighted in the description as well.  Any minute books or account books are catalogued to volume level, giving the covering dates of the volume and the committee or branch they relate to.  Some of the volumes, particularly the branch minute books, are often catalogued in more detail in order to give an idea of the work that NUWT branches were involved in.  The Committee, administrative, and financial sections include folders of correspondence as well as official records such as minute books and account books, and the subjects discussed in the correspondence will be summarised in the ‘scope and content’ field.  The photograph section contains all the photographs that were stored separately and these are mostly catalogued individually.  The publications section contains the compete run of the journal of the NUWT ‘The Woman Teacher’, along with a large selection of publications written by members of the NUWT.  The publications include campaign material n why women teachers should join the NUWT, as well as educational publications on a variety of subjects including science teaching for girls, nursery education, post-war education, physical education in schools.

Project update

It’s been very quiet on the NUWT blog recently as the cataloguing project funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme officially came to an end at the end of July.  It’s been a pretty mammoth task to get through all the cataloguing – about 370 boxes in total!  The most recent stage – and the reason the blog has been so quiet – has been the renumbering and re-ordering of the entire collection. 


My desk – surrounded by some of the boxes to be sorted and renumbered

In the 14 months of the project 232 boxes of subject files have been catalogued to a detailed file level description (this means that the content of the folders has been summarised and important documents, reports and discussions highlighted in the description). In addition I found a huge number of branch records mixed in with the boxes of subject files. So we’ve gone from having 20 minute books covering 15 or so branches of the NUWT to having 62 boxes of minute books, account books and correspondence files which now cover 147 branches.  This gives us a much fuller understanding of the work of the NUWT throughout the country and the relationships between branches and central council.  Towards the end of my cataloguing I also made a few exciting finds in terms of the history and workings of the union when I found the earliest Central Council minute book – from 1907 – 1914 – as well as a membership book giving membership figures for the union from 1926 – 1939.

I’m currently working on checking through the online catalogue and it should be up online on Monday – which is so exciting after all this work!  I’ll do a more comprehensive round-up of the cataloguing another day but for now I just wanted to update readers on what’s been happening with the project.

The end is nigh

well not really, but the boxes of material that are completely uncatalogued are nearing the end – only 6 left! I’ll not dwell on the material that needs re-catalogued or that has only been partially catalogued (from years ago), and the huge reorganisation that is going to be the next task. The sense of satisfaction I get now from going to the store and seeing all the neat rows of catalogued boxes is the best!

Suitably, a lot of the material in these last few boxes is about the closure of the NUWT itself, in 1961, when equal pay for women teachers was finally achieved. In amongst a folder of letters concerning the final ‘Victory Luncheon’ was this rather poignant photo of 41 Cromwell Road, NUWT Headquarters from 1935 to 1961, with a ‘for sale’ sign perched outside.

41 Cromwell Road, NUWT Headquarters, with ‘for sale’ sign showing, 1961, ref UWT/D/472/4 ©Institute of Education Archive

not just some more ‘old papers’

This morning started with a folder called, unassumingly, ‘Old Papers’.  The past few boxes have been a bit of a disorganised mix of documents, possibly all collected together from the office of a Central Council member prior to the union disbanding.  These have contained a lot of duplication and Ministry of Education printed reports rather than NUWT produced reports or correspondence so I wasn’t expecting much from this folder. However I was surprised and delighted to find lots of photographs inside! 

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My favourite being these photos of a celebration to mark Agnes Dawson’s year in office as Deputy Chairman of London County Council, and to celebrate her 60th birthday.  Handily enough the letter (also shown in the slide show above) was attached to the photos and gives us all the information on the event depicted and one of the photos shows her being presented with the album referred to in the letter.

If there’s time at the end of the project I’ll scan them all but for now I thought I’d scan a few which are different to the usual photographs in the collection.  Photographs of demonstrations, marches and NUWT meetings are the most common themes, with portrait photographs of individual members also making up a significant number.  This folder is different in that it contains more photographs of social events. 

I’ve yet to find any clues regarding the whereabouts of Agnes Dawson’s papers so I’m particularly happy to find these less formal photographs of her to complement what we already have in the NUWT collection.  Hopefully at some point her papers will turn up somewhere as she was a very important figure, not just in the history of the NUWT, but also in the wider women’s movement. A great example of this is in regards to the marriage bar – it was Agnes Dawson who moved a resolution on London County Council in 1935 which meant that women teachers and women doctors were from then on allowed to keep their jobs after marriage.  I’ve put some information, and another photograph of Agnes Dawson in my current exhibition in the foyer of the library.  Tomorrow I’ll remember to bring my camera in and take some photos of the exhibition to post here.

Let’s take to the trees

I’m currently working on putting together a small NUWT exhibition for the foyer space outside the library at the Institute of Education. I have the boards all printed up, the material chosen for the display cases and just the captions to write. I needed a wee break from trying to word the captions so I went back to some cataloguing. In a folder of conference papers (1931) I found this appealing little cartoon at the bottom of a press report of the conference from The Schoolmistress.

I like the idea of taking to the trees!

Cartoon from ‘The Schoolmistress’, 14/05/1931, ref UWT/D/439/5 ©Institute of Education Archive