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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleRecords of the International Council of Women
Ref No5ICW
Box Fetch NoBoxes 01-45; OS 80
Extent45 A boxes; OS items
Admin Biographical HistoryThe International Council of Women is an international non-governmental organisation comprising National Councils of Women on every continent. It is a federation of women of all nations, races, creeds and cultural traditions. It was founded by May Wright Sewall and Susan B Anthony at the First International Women's Conference in Washington in 1888. They laid down the general principles of uniting women of all nations, looking at what binds mankind, and placing humanity above nationalities. During the first years of the Council's existence, the International Council of Women adopted unanimously the following basic principles: compulsory arbitration in international conflicts, equal political rights for men and women, equal moral standard for men and women, equal pay for equal work. The practical fulfilment of these ideals was realised by Lady Aberdeen (President from 1893-1936) who encouraged the formation of National Councils all over the world. By 1938, there were 36 National Councils affiliated to the International Council of Women. The Council supported the work of the United Nations, and its predecessor, the League of Nations, and in 1948 it was granted consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of United Nations.

The President and Board members are elected by the Plenary Assembly. The Board administers the business of the Council and implements its policy. The Executive Committee consists of the members of the Board, the Presidents of all National Councils and the Conveners of all Standing Committees, and Regional Consultants of the International Standing Committees. The Plenary Assembly is the policy-making body of the Council. It meets every three years. In addition to the members of the Executive Committee, it comprises delegates from affiliated National Councils. The Plenary Assembly adopts or rejects resolutions which might be presented by the Board, the affiliated National Councils of Women, International Standing Committees and the Executive Committee.

The work of the Council is carried out by its Standing Committees who conduct in-depth studies. Each has specific terms of reference for example: Peace and International Relations, Laws and Suffrage, Child Welfare, Education, Migration, Trade, Housing, Home Economics, Arts and Letters, Cinema and Broadcasting, Press and Publicity. Through its specialised Standing Committees, the Council studies all questions which affect the status of women. Each Standing Committee has a Plan of Work adopted at the Triennial Conference. It might also undertake any study which it believes will further the aims of the Council and its affiliated National Councils. The Convener is responsible for compiling the information from National Councils and reporting the results to the Plenary Assembly. The Conclusions are then presented to the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies.

National Councils
National Councils are made up of affiliated organisations. It may also have individual members. The name may vary from country to country. Many National Councils have created branches or local councils whose structure is similar to that of the National Council.
Custodial HistoryThe papers were originally held in the offices of the National Council of Women of Great Britain, first in Lower Sloane Street, London and then in Danbery Street, Islington.
DescriptionThe archive consists of administrative and historical papers, official reports of and papers relating to Quinquennial and Triennial conferences, minutes of Executive Committee meetings, papers and periodicals relating to affiliated National Councils, papers of Standing Committees, minutes of meetings of the European Centre of the International Council of Women, papers relating to United Nations, conference papers, Bulletin and Newsletter of the International Council of Women, policy reports and other publications.

Abbreviations used in archive:
ECICW - European Centre of International Council of Women
ECOSOC - Economic and Social Council (of United Nations)
EWL - European Women's Lobby
ICW - International Council of Women
ILO - International Labour Organisation
IWSA - International Women's Suffrage Alliance
NCW - National Council of Women
NGO - Non-Governmental Organisations
UNCSW - United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
UNESCO - United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Publication Note'The National Council of Women. The First One Hundred Years' by Daphne Glick 1995.
'A Sisterhood of Service: the records and early history of the National Union of Women Workers' by Serena Kelly, Journal of the Society of Archivists vol. 14 no. 2 Autumn 1993.
Related MaterialThe Women's Library holds the Papers of Mary Alexandra Jackson (7MAJ) an active member of the National Council of Women. The Women's Library Printed Collections holds a number of publications by the International Council of Women, including their annual reports, newsletters and conference proceedings.

The records of the National Council of Women of Great Britain 1900-1995 held at London Metropolitan Archives (ACC/3613); National Council of Women of Great Britain 1891-1960 held at Nottinghamshire Archives; 1963-1967: correspondence with Abortion Law Reform Association (SA/ALR/A4/452-601 ) and 1929-1962: correspondence with Family Planning Association (SA/FPA/A13) held at the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine.

The UK Web Archive, provided by The British Library (with input from The Women's Library) preserved 'snapshots' of the National Council of Women (UK) website from 2006 - see
Related Record7MAJ
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThis collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library @ LSE in advance of their first visit.
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