Friday, May 9, 2014

From the Archives: the rise of Townswomen's Guilds in Sheffield

Every year, historical documents relating to the development of Sheffield are deposited at Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library.  Sheffield Archives recently received an interesting collection of records belonging to the Fulwood Afternoon Townswomen’s Guild, including a complete run of minutes, 1959 - 2008, attendance registers, 1959 - 2008, and a scrapbook, 1988 - 2003, documenting the various activities of the Guild over the course of some 50 years.

The Fulwood Afternoon Townswomen's Guild  was a local branch of a national organisation, the Townswomen's Guild (dating back to 1929), which had its origins in the 'suffragist' movement. The Townswomen's Guild was established in the wake of the enfranchisement of women and out of a drive to establish an organisation aimed at ordinary women living in the nation's towns and cities where members could meet regularly to advance their education and citizenship, develop new skills, exchange ideas, discuss topical issues and organise charitable events.
The Fulwood Guild was just one of many local Townswomen’s Guilds in Sheffield which were affiliated to the Sheffield Cutler Federation of Townswomen's Guilds (presided over by the Mistress Cutler) in the second half of the 20th century. The first Sheffield Guild (Crosspool) was formed in 1939.

The Fulwood Guild established various sub-sections including 'Drama', 'Arts and Crafts', 'Social Studies', 'Music' and 'Bridge' sections, and organised a range of social and recreational activities, outings, guest speakers, coffee mornings, charitable events, etc., for its members, which are all documented in the collection of records (Sheffield Archives ref: X651).  The records provide a colourful insight into the social, recreational, educational and charitable activities of a group of local women in suburban Sheffield over the course of half a century.

Pictured: Townswomen's Guild needlework panel pictured in scrapbook, 1988 - 2003 (Sheffield Archives: X651/4/1)