The Women’s Library collection tells the story of the campaign for women’s rights and women’s equality from the beginnings of the suffrage movement to the present day. The collection includes UNESCO-recognised documents, rare books, and objects such as original suffrage banners. The majority of the material dates from the late 19th century to present day and the focus is mainly UK.
More than 300 items, including 35 rare books, from The Women’s Library and LSE Library are available to read on the Digital Library.
Origins of The Women’s Library
The origins of The Women’s Library can be traced back to the women’s suffrage movement and the 1866 women’s suffrage petition. The petition marked the beginning of the organised campaign for the vote.
Out of the 1866 Women’s Suffrage Committee came the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage which later became the Fawcett Society. By the 1920s the London Society had accumulated a tremendous amount of suffrage literature and it was decided that the collection should be managed on proper principles.
Find out more about the 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition.
The Women’s Library began its life in a converted pub in Marsham Street, Westminster, as The Library of the London Society for Women’s Service in 1926. It had two aims: to preserve the history of the women’s movement, and to provide a resource for newly enfranchised women to enter public life.
The Library was renamed the Fawcett Library in 1957 and the Women’s Library in 2002. The collection has had many homes and it moved to LSE in 2013 when it became custodian of the collection.