Anti-Sexism and the Women's Movement

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The MML has significant holdings on Marxist feminism and campaigns through history against women's oppression. The Library's collection also includes material relating to significant female activists, including suffragette Helen Crawfurd, Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst.

We hold printed material on the fight for women’s right to vote, such as the pamphlet below, copies of the Votes for Women magazine, postcards, and photographs from a 1978 gathering of surviving suffragettes.

Women's Suffrage pamphlet 1907 by Robert F. Cholmeley

The Library also has a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst, photographs of her and Emmeline, and books and pamphlets she wrote on various subjects, including The Truth about the Oil War:

Truth About the Oil War pamphlet by Sylvia Pankhurst

Women have also played an integral role throughout the history of the trade union movement and struggle for workers' rights, and therefore feature prominently in many of the MML's collections. In 1907, for instance, “two brave girls” employed as printworkers at Leeds company Chorley & Pickersgill led what was described in a history of NATSOPA as a “fierce and courageous struggle” over wage reduction. You can see a photograph of the striking women in this feature on our Printworkers' Collection.

Other campaigns by working women for better pay and conditions are also represented, including a pamphlet relating to the Bryant and May Match girls’ strike of 1888. The MML holds many photographs of women's involvement in such campaigns throughout the twentieth century. This stunning image from 1935 shows female textile workers being arrested on a picket line:

Women strikers being arrested 1935

Other photographs show women strikers such as those who won equal pay at Ford's Dagenham factory in 1968, and women celebrating a smiliar victory at the Trico factory, Brentford, in 1976.

Still more material relates to the long-running dispute at Grunwick in the 1970s, whose workers were mostly women. MML also holds pamphlets and a poster relating to this famous dispute. (Photo credits: Morning Star).

Women were also at the forefront of the 1971 General Electric Company (GEC) strike and the 1981 occupation of the Lee Jeans factory in Greenock, which successfully saved it from closure.

This Marx House syllabus pamphlet on Women in Industry illustrates some of the educational and campaigning work that has been undertaken here in the last century.

A pamphlet from the Marx Memorial Library and Workers' School

Title Text: 
Women in Industry: A Marx House Syllabus


The MML also holds many Photographs of pioneering women, such as the first women to take on traditionally male jobs like bus and train driver, and various campaigns such as Greenham Common anti-nuclear peace camp, and protesting sexism at the Sun newspaper.

Other archives documenting struggles for women's liberation include:

National Assembly of Women: MML holds the entire archives of the NAW, from its foundation in 1952 up to 2016. This is a vast resource of material relating to every aspect of women’s struggles, and includes the NAW journal SISTERS (Sisterhood and International Solidarity to End Racism and Sexism), photographs, campaign publicity and reports, and much more.

Women’s peace movements MML has many historical resources relating to women’s campaigns against war and nuclear weapons, notably the Greenham Common Peace camp. Items held include posters and photographs from the camp, and a box of papers from the Grannies for Greenham group.

Women in the international fight against fascism: MML's extensive collections relating to the Spanish Civil War include details of the women who volunteered with the International Brigades, especially those who served as nurses in the field. Examples include the pamphlets "From a Hospital in Spain: American Nurses Write", and "From the battlefields of Spain: vivid pen pictures from Australian nurses." (See our Anti-fascism guide for more material on this subject). There are also many stunning photographs taken of, and by, British women who volunteered as nurses in Spain, such as these from the personal papers of Joan Purser from Worcestershire:

A nurse tends to soldiers in the "lightly wounded ward" of a hospital near Madrid.

Title Text: 
Joan Purser

British Nurse and soldiers, Spanish civil war

The Gertrude Elias collection contains material on art exhibitions organised by Elias, including: The Camden Council for International Co-operation's Women's Contribution to the Liberation of Mankind, which was shown in London and Edinburgh in 1982; and Pandora's Box, organised by the Womens Images collective, 1984.

Journals, zines and other periodicals relating to the women's movement held at MML include: 

Labour Woman
The lady's newspaper
The leveller
Link (Communist Party women's journal)
Manushi: a journal about women and society (Delhi)
Mukti (Asian women's journal)
National Assembly of Women Annual Report and Bulletins
Power of women    
Scottish Women's Liberation Journal
Scarlet Women
Shocking pink    
SISTERS (International Solidarity to End Racism and Sexism)
Socialist Woman    
Soviet woman
Spare Rib
Red rag
Votes for women
WILPF reporter (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom)
Woman Today
The woman worker
Woman's Outlook
Women and revolution
Women and Social Security
Women for life on earth
Women for socialism
Women in Action
Women of China
Women of the whole world
Women's franchise
The women's industrial news
Women's Liberation
Women's Newspaper
Women's Report
Women's Reproductive Rights Information Centre Newsletter
Women's Struggle    
Women's Studies International Forum    
Women's Voice
The working woman

For more resources relating to women’s struggles against sexism, we recommend visiting the Feminist Library in Peckham and the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics.