Bondfield, Margaret, 1873-1953

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Margaret Grace Bondfield CH PC (17 March 1873 – 16 June 1953) was a British Labour politician, trade unionist and women's rights activist. She became the first female cabinet minister, and the first woman to be a privy counsellor in the UK, when she was appointed Minister of Labour in the Labour government of 1929–31. She had earlier become the first woman to chair the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Bondfield was born in humble circumstances and received limited formal education. After serving an apprenticeship to an embroidress she worked as a shop assistant in Brighton and London. She was shocked by the working conditions of shop staff, particularly within the "living-in" system, and became an active member of the shopworkers' union. She began to move in socialist circles, and in 1898 was appointed assistant secretary of the National Amalgamated Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen and Clerks (NAUSAWC). She was later prominent in several women's socialist movements: she helped to found the Women's Labour League (WLL) in 1906, and was chair of the Adult Suffrage Society. Her standpoint on women's suffrage—she favoured extending the vote to all adults regardless of gender or property, rather than the limited "on the same terms as men" agenda pursued by the militant suffragists—divided her from the militant leadership.

After leaving her union post in 1908 Bondfield worked as organising secretary for the WLL and later as women's officer for the National Union of General and Municipal Workers (NUGMW). She was elected to the TUC Council in 1918, and became its chairman in 1923, the year she was first elected to parliament. In the short-lived minority Labour government of 1924 she served as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Labour. Her term of cabinet office in 1929–31 was marked by the economic crises that beset the second Labour government. Her willingness to contemplate cuts in unemployment benefits alienated her from much of the Labour movement, although she did not follow Ramsay MacDonald into the National Government that assumed office when the Labour government fell in August 1931. Bondfield remained active in NUGMW affairs until 1938, and during the Second World War carried out investigations for the Women's Group on Public Welfare.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Wald, Lillian D., 1867-1940. Lillian D. Wald Papers, 1889-1957. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950. Women in politics : typescript signed with holograph emendations : [Ayot St. Lawrence, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England], [1944]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Papers of Dr. Patricia Shaw, 1948-1965 The Women' s Library
referencedIn Autograph Letter Collection: Women's Suffrage (also includes postage stamps), 1851-1973 The Women' s Library
referencedIn Rose Schneiderman Collection. Photographic prints, 1909-1962. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Autograph Letter Collection: Women's Institute [Club], 1897-1928 The Women' s Library
referencedIn Miller, Frieda S. Papers, 1909-1973 (inclusive), 1929-1967 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Rose Schneiderman Photographs, 1909-1962 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Papers of Frieda S. Miller, 1909-1973 (inclusive), 1929-1967 (bulk) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Bondfield, Margaret, 1873-1953. Margaret Bondfield letter to Mrs. M. Piercy, 1924 Jan. 25. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Vol. XVII (ff. 294). 1898-March 1900.Joseph Perry, Secretary, Spanish Atrocities Committee; not J Perry, of the London Cabdrivers' Trade Union: Letter to J. Burns: 1898.COUNTY OF London: Correspondence and papers of J. Burns as L.C.C. representative ... British Library
referencedIn Papers of Dr Patricia Shaw, 1876-1965 The Women' s Library
referencedIn Autograph Letter Collection: Strachey Letters, 1805-1962 The Women' s Library
creatorOf Vol. VIII (ff. 456). 1907-1910.includes:ff. 1, 246, 265, 310 Isabel Winifred Maud Maude, née Emery; actress; wife of Cyril Maude: Letters to G. B. Shaw of Isabel Winifred Maud Maude: 1807-1910.f. 3 Reginald John Campbell, DD; minister of the Cit..., 1907-1910 British Library
referencedIn Bell, Susan G. An annotated bibliography of British women's autobiographies, 1790-1950 : research and reference materials, 1986-1998. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn (ff. 185). 1911-1913.This volume was refoliated in 2002-2003, but the bound sequence is unchanged.includes:ff. 1-15 George Bernard Shaw, author: 'The Ideals of Socialism' of George Bernard Shaw: 1911: Partly press cuttings.ff. 16-105 Gilbert Kei..., 1911-1913 British Library
creatorOf Vol. CLII A (ff. 313). 1931-1935.includes:f. 2 Léon Marinont, of Maisons-Alfort: Letters to the Society for Constructive Birth Control from Léon Marinont: 1931, 1940: Fr.ff. 3, 49, 207 Gertrude M. Thompson, nurse at the Mothers' Clinic: Correspon..., 1931-1935 British Library
referencedIn Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. Papers, 1847-1968 (inclusive), 1909-1929 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Newman, Pauline, ca. 1890-1986. Papers, 1900-1980 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Susan Groag Bell's, An Annotated bibliography of British Women's autobiographies, 1790-1950 :, research and reference materials, 1986-1998 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. Papers, 1847-1968 (bulk: 1909-1929) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf MS Mus. 1644. Vol. xix. Bennett-Casals. There are two sequences of letters from Arnold Bennett: the second group (ff. 87-118.) was previously deposited with Cohen’s solicitor and was added to the present collection in 1969.ff. 202. 280 x 220mm.includ... British Library
creatorOf Bondfield, Margaret, 1873-1953. Margaret Grace Bondfield papers, 1854-1951, 1898-1951 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Autograph Letter Collection (additional items), c.1810-1975 The Women' s Library
referencedIn Papers of Ross Davies [Biography of Margaret Bondfield], 1970s-1980s The Women' s Library
referencedIn Vols. CCXLII (ff. 150+111*). Jan.-April 1921.includes:f.1 F. Dickinson, of the West China Union University: Letter to Marie Stopes from F. Dickinson: 1921.f. 3 Richard Greville Verney, 19th Baron Willoughby de Broke: Letter to Marie Stopes from R... British Library
referencedIn Papers of Annie Lacon, 1905-1968 The Women' s Library
referencedIn Anderson, Mary, 1872-1964. Papers, 1918-1960 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn DILKE PAPERS. Vol. XCIV (ff. 326). Miscellaneous correspondence relating mostly to the death of Sir Charles Dilke and to the subsequent publication of The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Bart., M.P., 2 vols., 1917, by S. L. Gwynn, M.P., an..., 1908-1922 British Library
referencedIn The Records of the Women's Forum and its Predecessors, 1939-1980 The Women' s Library
referencedIn Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Papers, 1859-1944 (bulk: 1882-1944) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dingman, Mary Agnes, 1875-1961. Papers, 1917-1957 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn KOTELIANSKY PAPERS. Vol. IX (ff. 287). General correspondence; 1916-1946, n.d. Writers of letters include Thomas Stearns Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Edward Morgan Forster. At ff. 144-151 are letters from Dr Andrew John Morland to Koteliansky and (f. 14..., 1916-1946 British Library
referencedIn BONDFIELD MARGARET GRACE 1873 - 1953 LABOUR POLITICIAN, 1918 British Library of Political and Economic Science
referencedIn Newman, Pauline. Papers, 1903-1982 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Lillian D. Wald Papers, 1889-1957 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Bondfield, Margaret Grace, 1873-1953. Papers, 1854-1951, 1898-1951 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937. Papers, 1859-1944 (inclusive), 1882-1944 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbott, Edith, 1876-1957. person
associatedWith Abbott, Grace, 1878-1939. person
associatedWith Anderson, Martha. person
associatedWith Anderson, Mary, 1872-1964. person
associatedWith Atlee, C. R. (Clement Richard), 1883-1967. person
associatedWith Balabanoff, Angelica, 1878-1965. person
associatedWith Bell, Susan Groag, 1926-2015 person
associatedWith Bevan, Ernst. person
associatedWith Beveridge, William Henry Beveridge, Baron, 1879-1963. person
associatedWith Blasdale, Samuel. person
associatedWith Bondfield family. family
associatedWith Bondfield, J. S. person
associatedWith Bondfield, William. person
associatedWith Carpenter, Edward, 1844-1929. person
associatedWith Dingman, Mary Agnes, 1875-1961. person
associatedWith Evans, Elizabeth Glendower, 1856-1937 person
associatedWith Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. person
associatedWith Hilton, John, 1880-1943. person
associatedWith International Congress of Working Women. corporateBody
associatedWith International Labour Organisation. corporateBody
associatedWith Joliet-Curie, Irène, 1897-1956 person
associatedWith Labour Party (Great Britain) corporateBody
associatedWith Lilienthal, David E. (David Eli), 1899-1981 person
associatedWith Lockwood, Helen Drusilla, 1891-1971. person
associatedWith MacDonald, James Ramsey, 1866-1937. person
associatedWith Markham, Violet R. (Violet Rosa) person
correspondedWith Miller, Frieda Segelke, 1889-1973 person
associatedWith National Federation of Women Workers. corporateBody
associatedWith National Institute of Houseworkers corporateBody
associatedWith Newman, Pauline, 1887-1986 person
associatedWith Pandit, Vijaya Lakshmi, 1900-1990. person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1882-1965. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962. person
associatedWith Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972. person
associatedWith Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950. person
associatedWith Shaw | Patricia person
associatedWith Shaw Training School corporateBody
associatedWith Trades Union Congress. corporateBody
associatedWith Wald, Lillian D., 1867-1940. person
associatedWith Wallis, Percy. person
associatedWith Women's Forum person
associatedWith Women's Group on Public Welfare (England) corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Peace Crusade. corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Trade Union League. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Surrey ENG GB
Somerset ENG GB
London ENG GB
Subject
Women and peace
Women--Employment
Women--Social conditions
Child labor
Children--Employment
Labor and laboring classes
Women's rights
Labor movement
Women--Political activity
World War, 1939-1945
Women cabinet officers--Correspondence
Civil rights
Unemployment insurance
Labor unions--Societies, etc
Women--Diaries
Parliament--Politics
Elections
Strikes and lockouts
Women
Women--Societies and clubs
Wage-price policy
Parliament
Occupation
Women social reformers
Members of Parliament
Feminists
Politician
Activity

Person

Birth 1873-03-17

Death 1953-06-16

Female

Britons

English

Information

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