Yesterday, in-between moving office (yay!), I catalogued a folder of correspondence which reminded me of all the different types of research archives can be used for. The correspondence was between the NUWT and the National Institute of Houseworkers (NIH). The NIH offered free training for the Diploma of the Institute which aimed to “[establish] the status of domestic work as a career” . Thanks to the collection description on AIM25 I found some additional information on the reasons behind the setting up of the NIH. It was started by Violet Markham, the Chair of a Government Committee set up to examine the implications of the severe shortage of domestic help, in 1948.
The correspondence between the NUWT and the NIH would be of interest to anyone researching the NUWT or just trade unions and their organisation and functions in general. The leaflets and the journal give insights into the status of domestic work at that time – and I would say, this is pretty much the same as now i.e. very low status work, domestic workers almost ‘invisible’. The journal also contains recipes, adverts for household products, articles on how to do your make-up, how to keep a house clean – all of this would be of interest to researchers of employment, of domestic work, of advertising, history of cooking/food habits in the UK.
I’m sure there’s loads of other uses and angles of research from this folder. That’s what’s so great about archives – whatever ideas we have about why we’re keeping a particular collection/box/folder there’s always the person who’ll come in asking to see that same material but coming from a completely different angle to any we’d considered!
Weekly round-up of NUWT related posts elsewhere
There is also an exhibition opening in the foyer at the Women’s Library, London on the 16th of June. It is a film installation by Jane Barnwell entitled ‘Persona: the Power of Make-up‘ (tying in with the article about skin care shown in the middle image on this post)