Some big news…

We have two fairly big announcements to make!

Firstly, some of you are likely up to date on this, but the IOE has now officially merged with UCL.  As of December 2nd, we are now the IOE Archive at the UCL Institute of Education. For more information on the merger, visit here.

Secondly, our Archive has been awarded National Archive Accreditation status (which was also made official on December 2nd… December 2nd was a pretty big day around these parts)!  The IOE Archive is the first archive of an educational institution in London to be accredited.

Accreditation is the new UK quality standard that recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery. To achieve accredited status, an archive must demonstrate that it has met clearly defined national standards relating to the management and resourcing of the care of its unique collections and the service it offers to its users.

The accreditation panel that made the award noted the following:

[They] were very impressed with the application and the range of ways in which the service is delivering its mission. They noted specifically the excellence of the documentation submitted, which reflects on the service’s strong management and planning. They congratulated the service on its achievements and innovative good practice in many areas, specifically developing outreach, broadening the volunteering offer and tackling digital preservation issues which many larger and better-resourced services have struggled to address.

We are so pleased to now be fully accredited, and want to thank the accreditation team for all of their help and support as we went through the application process.

For more information on accreditation, head to the National Archives.



Post-project round up

Although the NUWT project came to an end some time ago (the original funding was from April 2011 – June 2012) you may have noticed that I’m still here! Part of that time was spent re-organising the NUWT collection and the rest of the time was spent on a variety of archive activities.

However I was never able to stay away from the NUWT collection for very long!

So the additional work I have done on the NUWT collection is:

  • Creating a guide on using the collection using our libguides system
  • Continuing to blog about finds from the collection
  • Working with a volunteer who carried out fantastic research on individual women in the NUWT and the administrative history of the organisation
  • Answering enquiries about the collection
  • Continuing to scan in images from the collection – photographs and documents – that can now be used by all archive staff, for promotional activities, and for researchers (see next point for more information)
  • Locating NUWT-related material held elsewhere
  • Beginning to add images to our Flickr account and creating a set of images of individual members of the NUWT – Women of the NUWT

Although the NUWT cataloguing project is at an end, and I am moving to a new post at London School of Economics, work on the collection will continue as part of the general activities of the archive. And of course now that the collection is on the online catalogue it is easily accessible for anyone who would like to come in to the Institute of Education Archive to use the collection.

The project blog and twitter will be coming to a halt for the moment but plans for using the NUWT collection as an educational resource continue and any future developments will be reported.  If you would like to get involved then you can email arch.enquiries[at]

I feel so privileged to have spent so much time cataloguing the NUWT collection and thank you all for sharing the experience with me through this blog and through twitter.

National Union of Women Teachers members standing in front of campaign banners, ref UWT/G/2/54 ©Institute of Education Archives

National Union of Women Teachers members standing in front of campaign banners


Married Women and the right to work in Canada 1945 – 1970 – seminar at the Institute of Historical Research

I was just browsing the seminar series’ run by the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London and spotted a new series (well one I certainly hadn’t noticed before) – Gender and History in the Americas.  I thought the upcoming seminar Ladies, legislation and letters to Lester Pearson: policy and debates about married women’s right to work in Canada, 1945-1970 by Helen Glew (University of Westminster) sounded particularly interesting.

The National Union of Women Teachers campaigned vigorously on the issue of the marriage bar, calling for its removal for all women workers but campaigning particularly strongly for its removal for women teachers.  London County Council (LCC) rescinded the rule barring women teachers from working in 1935, with much of the credit for this decision going to NUWT and LCC member Agnes Dawson.  However this didn’t happen nationwide for women teachers until 1944 and even then the NUWT records record instances of dismissal of married women teachers into the late 1940s.  The NUWT collection does contain information on education and status of women in Canada but I couldn’t find anything particular to the marriage bar in Canada so I’ll be interested to here more about this at the seminar.

If you’re in London and would like to attend this seminar it is on Tuesday 3rd December at 5.30pm in Senate House. These seminars are free and open to all.  It says this seminar is at Stuart House, which is adjacent to Senate House – I found this map which shows the location.

If you’d like to know more on the NUWT campaign against the marriage bar you can find more by searching our catalogue for the term ‘marriage bar’

Volunteering at the Institute of Education

Guest post by Noreen Nicholson on volunteering on two IOE Library & Archive projects – ‘School Histories’ and ‘A New Perspective on Education in the 20th Century: Cataloguing the Papers of the National Union of Women Teachers’

An article in the Summer 2010 issue of Alumni Life announced a forthcoming project on school histories and asked for volunteers to help with various tasks. I thought it looked interesting, applied, and was soon spending a few hours twice a week reading books about a great variety of schools with a view to categorising them for cataloguing: e.g. type (independent, grammar, comprehensive), level of education provided, ages catered for, single sex or mixed, and so on. This was not always easy as many schools, especially the oldest, had gone through several stages of development since their foundation which might lie centuries back in medieval times.  Volunteers were also asked to identify items of interest – “juicy bits” – and photographs suitable for inclusion in a study pack for schools wanting to involve pupils in tracing their history. A few of the books were immensely long and written in a turgid style, and I found myself wondering who – unless having some personal connection with the particular institution – would want to read them.  Others were well written and illustrated and it was tempting to spend too long on each rather than simply to skip through extracting relevant information.

The cataloguing exercise completed, I spent some time compiling a glossary for the study pack and helping with the summary of the history of education it was to include.  My only regret was that the team of volunteers was never brought together, as I think it would have been helpful to exchange views and experiences.  But, as different people were free on different days, this was not feasible.

The project enabled me to renew and expand the knowledge of the history of education gained on the MA course I had taken at the Institute some 30 years previously, and from further research on teacher training colleges in the nineteenth century. I enjoyed the whole experience immensely and knew that I would miss both the work and the feeling of being involved with something so worthwhile.

Before my withdrawal symptoms became too marked it was suggested that I might become involved with the work being undertaken on the archives of the National Union of Women Teachers.  The vast amount of material deposited at the Institute in the 1960s, following the closure of the Union, had never before been fully and systematically catalogued.  The prospect of continuing to work at the Institute was appealing, and so I have over the last year been gathering material about the Union and about some individual members using various sources – minute books, correspondence, the NUWT periodical Woman Teacher, the Dictionary of National Biography and other reference books.

©Institute of Education Archive

With this project I moved into the, to me, relatively unfamiliar territory of education in the earlier part of the twentieth century and of the feminist organisations which were established in those years – some concerned mainly with securing the franchise for all women, others with gaining parity in pay and working conditions with their male colleagues. Perhaps inevitably I have become quite attached to several of the NUWT pioneers and would love to know more about them, their education, lives at and outside of work, also about the schools in which they taught, and their pupils. One whose career I have looked into in some depth is Theodora Bonwick, at first because of her links with parts of London which I know well, later because I was struck by her forceful personality and her progressive views:  she introduced a system of independent learning for older girls into her school near Kings Cross, and campaigned for the inclusion of sex education  in the school curriculum.

Very grainy photograph of Theodora Bonwick from a newspaper obituary notice

Occasionally a photograph has been available and this makes the teachers more real, though in group photographs the prevalence of cloche hats and long, shapeless coats and skirts makes it difficult to distinguish individuals.

Over the years I have been involved in several types of voluntary work: as school governor, literacy tutor, charity trustee and in the Witness Support service, all of them interesting and rewarding. The last two years at the Institute have provided a very different experience, more akin to academic research. While new technology has made it easier to track down sources and trace connections, it cannot as yet completely replace ferreting about among old records. Among the various aspects of the NUWT’s story which I enjoyed following up, through letters and minutes of committee meetings, was how and when the Union’s archive came to be housed at the Institute of Education

I am most grateful to Kathryn Hannan for giving me this opportunity and for bearing with my sometimes eccentric ways of working.  Older people such as myself are often counselled “use it or lose it” – I hope to continue “using it” for a long time yet.

I would just like to add how grateful I and the rest of the archive staff are to Noreen for all her research on the NUWT.  It is adding so much value to the catalogue and other resources on the collection, such as the NUWT LibGuide. We have many plans for development of the NUWT Collection as the focus of teaching resources and as part of this planned project we would like to involve more volunteers on a variety of tasks/learning skills – I hope they get as much out of it as Noreen has!

Appeal to London teachers – Interested in using primary sources in the classroom?

Are you interested in using archives in the classroom but not sure where to start? 

Our plan to develop one of our collections as a teaching resource for Key Stages 3 and 4 could be the place to start.  We are working to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a well-structured education programme where we will link up with schools in the London area for whom we will create teaching resources across all the key stages.  If you think this sounds like something you would be interested in we would love to hear from you.

This project will focus on the National Union of Women Teachers Collection held at the IOE Archive.  The NUWT were a women’s teaching union, established in 1904 to fight for equal pay for women teachers.  The union was disbanded in 1961 when equal pay for women teachers was implemented.   It is a rich and fascinating collection of over 400 boxes of material, including correspondence, photographs, campaign material, educational reports and publications, minutes and press cuttings.  This covers a huge range of subjects from equal pay, equal educational opportunities and equal suffrage to peace and disarmament, evacuation and Air Raid Precautions, sex education in schools, juvenile delinquency and support for female Parliamentary and local election candidates.

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The images shown here give an example of the variety of material in the collection.  The post-war poster (UWT/D/268/1) urging people to save gas and electricity is one of many campaign posters, we also have campaign posters for the Equal Pay campaign, equal suffrage, and opposition to the non-intervention policy in the Spanish Civil War.  Many organisations sent their campaign leaflets to the NUWT including some surprising ones such as the British Union of Fascists as you can see from the letter (UWT/D/251/2).  Needless to say the NUWT did not support the BUF but it is interesting to have these different political viewpoints in the collection and this variety of sources could be very useful for teaching purposes.  The NUWT were involved in the campaign to give British women the right to determine their own nationality on marriage to someone who was not a UK citizen – British men already had this right (UWT/D/216/1).   This material could be very useful in discussing current debates on citizenship, immigration and equal rights.   We have photographs dating back to the early 1900s including examples of demonstrations against cuts in education and for equal suffrage (UWT/G/2/4 and G/2/31).   With funding from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme, the History of Education Society and the IOE’s own Friends of the Newsam Library and Archives, the entire collection is now catalogued and available for online searching.   If you would like to read more about the collection you can access the project blog at  – and search the online catalogue at

What will you get out of it? Well, we will provide opportunities for students and teachers to visit the archives to engage with original source material.  We will also provide teaching resources with digitised material for use in the classroom and have a dedicated digitisation room ready for use.

Using archives in education can help bring the past alive by creating an inspiring way for students to learn about and engage with the past and using a range of original source material in different media supports visual, audio and kinaesthetic learning.  The archive staff have experience of creating teaching resources and working with student teachers to help them create learning activities so we have an understanding of the types of material that could be of use in the classroom.

If you would be interested in finding out more or taking part in this project please contact us by Friday 9th November at:
arch.enquiries [at]

Or call us on 020 7612 6983 or 020 7911 5568.

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.