The Women’s Library printed collections catalogue is now available on Copac.
The collections cover subjects such as women’s rights, suffrage, sexuality, health, education, employment, reproductive rights, the family, and the home. The material mainly focuses on women in Britain but there is also some international material. The collections are a resource for women’s history researchers, social and medical historians, sociologists, social policy researchers, journalists and biographers.
The catalogue includes records from a number of special collections. The Josephine Butler Society Library a fantastic resource for researching sexuality and public morality from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. The society was established in the campaigns against the Contagious Diseases Acts of 1864-1869. The Acts were put in place in an attempt to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the armed forces. Police were given the power to identify and register prostitutes who were then forced to undergo medical examinations and if they refused they could be arrested and put before a magistrate. The campaigns were eventually successful and the Contagious Diseases Acts were suspended in 1883 and repealed in 1886.
The library was created to support the work of the society. The collection includes the Society’s Library and also it’s campaigning literature and business papers. As well as items on prostitution there are also works on slavery and trafficking of women.
The Cavendish- Bentinck collection contains mainly pre-1850 items, the earliest book An abstract of all the penall statutes … is dated 1592. The collection as a whole shows women’s contribution to literature and learning and records the position of women throughout history.
The Sadd Brown collection contains books and periodicals by and about women from the Commonwealth countries.
The Women’s Library has been added as part of the Copac Challenge Fund.
Photo of archway above Women’s Library: lewishamdreamer: http://flickr.com/photos/lewishamdreamer/31421368/