Co-operative Women’s Guild

The Co-operative Women’s Guild is a national organisation. The Women’s League for the Spread of Co-operation was established in 1883, changing its name to the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1885 and the Co-operative Women’s Guild in the mid 1960s. The Guild is run at a national level but organised into regions, districts and local branches. Annually, districts and branches from different parts of the country meet at the Guild’s congress.

Co-operative Women’s Guilds were set up to provide women with a voice within the movement. Many of the societies had one member per family and, as such, it was generally the man that attended meetings.

At the beginning of 1883, a new section in the Co-operative News – the ‘Women’s Corner’ – began, edited by Alice Acland. The aim of the Women’s Corner was to link Co-operative Women together. It was then suggested that an independent guild of women be formed that would hold recreational and instructional classes for women. The national organisation was established in 1883, along with the first local branches. By 1889, there were 51 branches.

The Archive holds records for the Lea Valley district, the Lancashire region and the Yorkshire region, along with national annual reports, periodicals and pamphlets. A list of the pamphlets and periodicals can be downloaded.

LVWG – Co-operative Women’s Guild, Lea Valley District Papers

The Lea Valley District includes the following branches: Enfield Central; College Road; Enfield Town; and Cheshunt. The Enfield Central Co-operative Women’s Guild was set up in 1895 with the aims to ‘organise women for the study and practice of co-operative methods of social reform, and improved conditions of domestic life’. The collection covers the period 1916-1997 and consists of district minute books, reports and service programmes. There are also minute books, account books, correspondence and congress reports for the individual branches.

LCWG – Co-operative Women’s Guild, Lancashire Region

The Lancashire Region of the Co-operative Women’s Guild is made up of the following districts: Birkenhead & District, Manchester and Salford, Rochdale, North East Lancashire and North Lancashire. Each of these districts consists of their constituent branches. The collection covers the period 1906-2008 and comprises minute books, account books, annual reports and correspondence.

YCWG – Co-operative Women’s Guild, Yorkshire Region

The Yorkshire Region of the Co-operative Women’s Guild is made up of the following districts; Doncaster, Barnsley, Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Huddersfield & Dewsbury and Halifax. Each of these districts comprises its constituent branches. The collection consists of minute books, accounts and annual reports.


The Guild has been a campaigning organisation throughout its existence, being involved, amongst others, in the campaigns for women’s suffrage, divorce reform, poor law reform, health care etc

The Archive’s collections include pamphlets from the Guild’s campaigns and journals, the best known of which is Woman’s Outlook, published from 1919 to 1967.

Annual Reports

The Annual reports cover the period 1893-2000. The reports are those given at the annual congress of the Women’s Guild. They report on the work carried out in the last 12 months, give updates on membership, outline educational activities carried out and give details of finances.