Minute Books offer glimpses into the organisation of women teachers at the turn of the 20th Century

Volunteers’ week may be long over but that doesn’t mean we can’t say thank you to our volunteers throughout the rest of the year!  This time I would like to introduce some of the work done by one of our volunteers, Ashley Zuelke, who you may have come across before in this Volunteer Week post. As well as volunteering in Special Collections we have been lucky enough to have Ashley volunteering with us in UCL IOE Archives.  Ashley has worked on catalogue enhancement of Minute Books of the London branch of the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT).  The account which follows is a fascinating analysis of what she uncovered and gives an insight into the interesting stories that can be found in these unassuming looking volumes.

Minute Books Offer Glimpses into the Organisation of Women Teachers at the Turn of the 20th Century

By Ashley Zuelke
Summer Volunteer with Special Collections, Archives and Exhibitions studying for an MSc in Business Analytics and Management

In the early 1900s, British women teachers formed their own associations, branching out from the primary teaching organizations of the time to advocate for emerging issues including equal pay, pensions, and the management of “combined” boys and girls school departments. Reading the first minute books kept by the London Branch of the National Union of Women Teachers – then known as the National Federation of Women Teachers – is like sifting through snapshots of history taken every few months.

Entries from 1908 to 1922 reveal glimpses of the expansion of women’s rights and education in the U.K. before, during and after World War I. Discussions on proposed resolutions for national meetings reveal issues on which broad consensus prevailed, such as supporting aging women teachers, as well as points of disagreement, which included Parliament extending the vote to women. In history books, women’s suffrage seems like a natural course within a history punctuated with equal rights victories. The minute books, however, present a more nuanced picture with a spectrum of views and no certain results.

Demonstration by the London Unit against the allocation of the Fisher Grant, 1918

Demonstration by the London Unit against the allocation of the Fisher Grant, 1918

The year 1918 marked a watershed moment for the organisation: Parliament passed landmark education reform legislation and the group merged with the Women Teachers Franchise Union to create the London Unit of the National Federation of Women Teachers. The Franchise Union at the time was a politicised organisation, which prompted some members to urge that the group not advocate for political issues. The group did not accept those proposals, though the organisation unanimously postponed advocacy on political issues during the war. With the merger, the group codified its practices into a constitution and began to persistently advocate for equal rights and the implementation of the Education Act of 1918, which was designed to improve school conditions and to study the UK educational system – objectives for which public support increased dramatically after the war.

Within 10 years, the group grew from a handful of regular members to more than 50 subscribers in attendance at annual meetings representing nearly all parts of greater London. The organisation’s behaviour evolved as well. Initial notes that focused mostly on social gatherings and group administration became disciplined accounts of proposed resolutions and active correspondence. Early schisms dissolved as rules and procedures were finalised. By 1916, the group even published meeting minutes in newspapers as public record.  Members, some of whom participated in the group for more than a decade, built seniority. The group developed a clear, ringing voice on important issues. The women’s dedication is evident, with many lines commemorating achievements of group presidents and expressing condolences for members with illness or those who passed away.

The minute-book entries represent many hours of work for members outside the classroom, often on weekends. They offer readers a new perspective on events in the first two decades of the 20th Century. The books show how one organisation developed, enduring setbacks and victories on a path that many organisations today would likely recognise. And the books open windows into time as a group made changes and won rights for women and children that today many of us could not imagine doing without.


Thanks so much Ashley for writing up such an interesting account of the early minute books of the NUWT and for all your work in expanding and enhancing the catalogue description for these.

For more information on the National Union of Women Teachers please refer to our libguide or our online catalogue.

All images ©UCL Institute of Education Archives

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How to design your doctoral research: concepts and methodologies (edited by Jon Swain)

When I first came to the Institute, I had the pleasure of supporting the students who were on the ‘Conceptualising and Designing Research’ (CDR) course which was compulsory for all doctoral students.  It was a course that I had always wanted to take in order to understand the issues that social science researchers had to be aware of when designing a research project.  I never had the time but now we have a book that reflects most of the contents of the course – for it has chapters by the course leader  Jon Swain and by others who taught on the course – Mano Candappa, Olga Cara, Professor Jane Hurry, Will Gibson, Rebecca O’Connell and Charlie Owen.  What it doesn’t have is a chapter on historical research because the book focuses on the research projects most often undertaken by the majority of doctoral students in education.  The book has much to offer and it is therefore a pleasure to feature it on Newsam News.

Jon's book

Location:  Level 5 Butb SWA

There is a new book on the market that is a landmark in the field of designing research, and is an ideal companion for any postgraduate student or early career academic conducting research across education and educational studies. How to design your doctoral research: concepts and methodologies (Sage, 2017) is edited by Jon Swain, who is a senior researcher and lecturer at UCL IOE. Jon used to be programme leader for the MPhil/PhD and one of the core, 30-hour, research training courses he ran for 7 years was called CDR (Conceptualising and Designing Research). CDR had a number of presenters who are highly experienced tutors and researchers who work, and have published extensively, in their particular field. Typically, each tutor/researcher began their session by introducing and raising issues about the key principles of their particular research design, and then used their own research project(s) as a vehicle to ground it in the real world with real life examples. In this way, students were introduced to different designs and types of research and evaluation, and were able to position research in its wider historical, political, social and ethical contexts. It is these presentations/workshops that form the core basis of the book. The designs include case studies, ethnography, experimental design, and survey research, and there is also a chapter on mixed methods.

The book is not about how to do research; rather its aim is to help doctoral students design and conceptualise their particular research projects, understand the philosophical foundations of their work, refine their research questions and choose a coherent methodology. Getting this right will go a long way in determining the satisfaction of the examiners.

Students begin their doctoral studies from a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and experiences of working in a variety of research traditions. While some have relatively deep understandings of different research approaches and designs, others have little idea of what, for example, the characteristics of ethnography are, or perhaps, what the difference is between epistemology and ontology. Whilst some students already have their research proposals and designs more or less worked out, the majority discuss and reflect on what they see and hear during their core research training, and in resultant discussions with colleagues and their supervisors many begin to change their designs. Some modify them a little, others more dramatically. The book captures the experience of uncertainty that many novice researchers feel, and draws on examples of students’ questions and the issues they face.

Although the subject matter (for example, ethical considerations or theories of knowledge) can be complex, the collected authors chart a clear course through this complexity. The generic structure is clear, logically sequenced and transparent, and the writing style is engaging and knowledgeable. How to design your doctoral research is divided into two sections: the first part looks at concepts and issues that inform research design, and the second part looks at the application of concepts in different research designs that use both quantitative and qualitative approaches. In other words, ideas and concepts that are introduced in the first half of the book are developed and illustrated in the later design chapters.

The book has an international element and also a broader appeal outside of education/schools: some of the contexts contain a number of multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary examples, such as child minders, asylum seekers and Muslim communities in China. The book also covers the growing area of internet research, which not only has a profound impact on the way ideas are formed and knowledge is created, but is also has its own particular social and ethical, implications which arise from mass public access to information resources such as discussion forums.

At the end of each chapter there is a section called ‘Areas for Discussion’, which highlights issues raised in the chapter to generate student discussions/activity. Also at the end of each chapter, is an Annotated Bibliography with a list of additional readings, which authors have found particularly influential. There is a companion website that provides a wealth of online resources to aid study and assist in teaching. There are also weblinks, which are clearly marked by icons in the margins of the text, and which direct readers to relevant websites and further readings. These help connect doctoral students and researchers to real world organisations and issues, and key articles to reinforce knowledge and understanding.

This is definitely a ‘must-read’ book for doctoral students and early career researchers in education.

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Interruptions to Library Services systems, Monday 31st July – Wednesday 2nd August and Monday 14th August

Several library services will be unavailable for two periods – from Monday 31st July to Wednesday 2nd August (inclusive) and again on Monday 14th August, due to the UCL datacentre migration. Services will be affected at all UCL Libraries (including IOE Library) in the following ways.



Book and laptop lending services

  • Library self-service machines will be unavailable – however, IOE Library staff will be able to loan and return books for you
  • Renewals will be not be possible
  • Laptops will not be able to be borrowed or returned
  • No items will be due during this period and fines will not be charged

It will not be possible to:

  • Make or cancel reservations
  • Place Inter-Library Loan requests or collect ILL items
  • View your library account information or change your PIN
  • Access some electronic resources off campus (list of resources is here here)
  • Current book availability (you’ll be able to see shelf marks etc. but not whether it is currently on the shelf or not)
  • View item availability when using the UCL Reading Lists service

Membership services

No registration of new library members, or renewal of accounts for existing members, will be possible during the system outage. Applications for access / renewal of accounts should be made as normal after the 2nd August. People with UCL ID cards of UCL Library cards can still access all UCL Libraries (including IOE).

Further details about this service interruption can be found here:


We apologise for any inconvenience this service interruption causes.

Bryan Johnson – Resource Discovery Librarian (IOE Library)


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Books to make your eyes pop out

One of the new picture books at the UCL Institute of Education, Librarian (2017), takes us to a public library for its 50th birthday – a very apt story at a time when so many public libraries get closed. One boy stands aside sadly; he admits that he simply does not like books. The resourceful woman librarian asks him about his favourite thing and proceeds to find a book about spaceships for him, but not an ordinary one: the boy opens it, and out pops a rocket and a planet made up of cardboard! The child leaves with three library books and shiny eyes.

Like the Librarian in the picture book, we have astronomy books with three-dimensional images: The story of stars (2013) with whole constellations surfacing and Halley’s comet (1985) with the historical observatory in Greenwich popping up… then a big orange telescope… then an intricate spacecraft hovering high above the page!

Have a look at the astronomy section in the Newsam Library for many more richly illustrated non-fiction works about the universe, like 100 things to know about space (2016).

They will surely attract girls and boys, even if the all-encompassing fever of the first space flights has abated!

At the IOE, we have plenty more titles with fold-out and pop-up features, flaps to lift and wheels to turn in our Curriculum Resources Collection.

No less sophisticated than the spaceships is the 3D Tower Bridge in Pop-up London (2011). Earthly treasure (2008) hides a volcanic eruption and a splash of gold and jewels, while The rabbit problem (2009) has a veritable explosion of rabbits. Rabbits? It’s to explain a mathematical problem where numbers explode… So even maths can be brought to life by a bunch of paper cut-outs.

For history, look at the 3D Bayeux tapestry in Halley’s comet: King Harold’s courtiers point up to the portentous shooting star, and when you pull a flap, it comes down on their heads, and the King falls off his throne, dead.

The cover of one recent acquistion, How machines work (2015), reveals a mini-machine with movable cog-wheels in transparent compartments in the cover, which may entice a child to open the book in the first place. Inside, there are no more actual mechanical features, but lots of flaps to appeal to readers who like touching and moving things.

Did you know pop-up books have been around a long time? Books, books, books (2017)   mentions paper-engineering in a medical work from around 1900. This picture book about treasures of the British Library is strewn with things that fascinate children, like monsters and skeletons, while ancient handwritten or printed texts form the backdrop like a kind of tapestry. The Brothers Grimm grope through a fairy-tale forest of huge old books, and Beowulf wrangles with a monster covered in quaint millennium-old script. These montages, are partly, as the authors reveal, made with scissors and glue, which could be an inspiration to children and teachers!

Books, books, books abounds with facts and figures which will catch boys’ attention in particular: the atlas of King Charles II. is literally man-high, at 178 cm… the Vikings stole the bejewelled cover of the Lindisfarne Gospels… Leonardo da Vinci designed machines which may help scientists to land on Mars! Women authors, characters, and owners are also well-represented, from lesser-known Anne Brontë to “superstar cookbook writer” Mrs Beeton.

Hopefully, at some stage reluctant readers will realize that creatures can pop out of the pages of books, not made of paper, nor of ink, but of your own imagination. Are these figments not even more real than papercraft?

Not too real, either, unlike the rather unpleasant fellows who emerge from books and threaten the readers in Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart (2003), also available at the Newsam Library. The writer of the book in the story has created a parallel reality; this is what Funke has visualised vividly.

Apart from books with mechanical features, the Newsam Library also holds reading matter for people who, for various reasons, struggle with reading: fiction which has either been simplified or simply worded from the outset.

For those ‘easy readers’, also try the search-term ‘high-interest low-vocabulary books’. We have some gripping and topical stories for teenagers, for example about addiction to computer games or soap operas. It struck me that some of those stories describe a similar phenomenon as Inkheart: the border between virtual and real worlds get blurred.

The librarian in the picture book mentioned above is portrayed with an arrow pointing to her head: “Knowledge about books”! If you are not sure how to find teaching resources on the catalogue or on the shelves, ask our Curriculum Resources Librarian, Sally Perry, or any of us, and we shall be delighted to help you.

Illustrations: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Halley’s Comet on the Bayeux TapestryStamp of 1963: Scanned by Darjac.

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Daily Mail Historical Archive, 1896-2004

daily mail historical archive

UCL now has access to the Daily Mail Historical Archive, 1896-2004

Daily Mail Historical Archive, 1896-2004 provides more than 100 years of the Daily Mail newspaper online. As well as the regular edition of the newspaper, the Daily Mail Historical Archive also includes the Daily Mail Atlantic Edition, which was published on board the transatlantic liners that sailed between New York and Southampton between 1923 and 1931. The newspaper can be cross-searched with other Gale/Cengage primary sources in Artemis Primary Sources

daily mail 1 limit results by catelogyThis resource will be of use for those of you who are conducting a historical inquiry on education – government policies, reports, funding etc.  – and the perceptions of the press and members of the public.  A quick search on the Archive on education during the interwar years, for instance, reveals views that are not dissimilar to those voiced today about schooling. Headlines such as ‘Examination Poison’* and ‘The Education Farce’** are just two examples that confirmed this in my quick search of the database.

The database has all the features necessary for a search platform, including the option to conduct an ‘Advanced search’,  limiting search results by keywords and data and also by type of article e.g. editorial and commentary or feature articles.  Additionally, the database allows a search within results which allows further fine-tuning of search results.

As always, you are reminded of the importance of critically evaluating information. Consider, for instance, who the target audience would have been for the Daily Mail and whether they were different to the audience today.  Compare what you find on this newspaper to what other newspapers have published on the topic. In fact, it is crucial that you consider other political views. The Daily Mail is known for its support of fascism in the 1930s – but it was not the only paper to do this. You may want to look at the ProQuest Historical Newspapers Database for instance.  This includes, among other titles,  The Guardian (1821-2003) and The Observer (1791-2003).



* “Examination Poison.” Daily Mail [London, England] 28 Nov. 1918: 5. Daily Mail Historical Archive. Web. 19 July 2017.)

** “The Education Farce.” Daily Mail [London, England] 21 Feb. 1925: 9. Daily Mail Historical Archive. Web. 19 July 2017.

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IOE Library – food survey results


In April we asked users of the IOE Library if they thought cold food should be allowed in the IOE library.


Traditionally food and drink have not been allowed in academic libraries. However, more and more libraries are beginning to allow them in – though many still do not. As you might expect this is a highly contentious issue which raises passions on both sides of the debate. The IOE Library currently allows drinks in lidded containers but no food.

In April, we conducted a survey of our users to find out if they thought the consumIMG_20170628_150243981ption of cold food should be allowed in the IOE Library. We listed three possible policies: that cold food be allowed everywhere, that it be allowed in restricted areas, or that food should continue to be banned, and we invited library users to choose the policy they would like to see the IOE Library adopt.

We put paper survey forms on desks and opened a Twitter survey to try to encourage as many people to vote as possible. In total there were 466 votes – the high number of votes, and the very extensive comments we received, shows how IOE Library users really engaged with the survey and the issue of food in the IOE Library. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey.

The results of the survey were:

  1. No food – 25%
  2. Food allowed in restricted areas – 37%
  3. Food allowed anywhere – 38%

The overall message we have taken from the results of our survey is that 75% of the IOE Library users who filled in the survey want cold food to be allowed into the IOE Library. In light of this we will make some changes to our policies before the next academic year begins and we will begin to communicate the specific changes over the Summer vacation.

Once again – a big thank you to everyone who took part in the survey.

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Volunteers’ Week


In celebration of Volunteers’ Week, our two wonderful volunteers, Ashley Zuelke and Teodora Lazar,  both UCL students, write about the work they are doing on the Clarke Collection held at the Institute of Education Library.

Ashley Zuelke:

Ashley at the Stacks Smiling

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “If we encountered a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he read.” At UCL Institute of Education (IOE) Special Collections and Archives we are building a picture of Joseph A. Lauwerys and his life by listing all of the reading material in his personal library. I am one of two volunteers sifting through 28 double-stacked shelves full of books, academic journals, newsletters, meeting proceedings and more collected by Lauwerys, a Belgian-born scientist who became a leader in comparative education studies instrumental in the establishment of the (IOE) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Lauwerys’ life spanned 79 years, from 1902 to 1981, and the fraction of the books we have listed thus far illustrate how world wars and subsequent multinational collaboration and scientific advancements shaped his perspective. On a given day working with the collection, one comes across material published in more than eight languages on subjects ranging from chemistry theory, to morality, to educational systems in Chile.  We note the details of each piece and scan them for marginalia, to see what he found important.  Lauwerys’ collection considers all levels of education. Some of the earliest pieces appear to be his own textbooks. He also kept some publications of his speeches and journal articles, especially those published in multiple languages. In addition to writings on science and educational theory, he kept items like yearbooks from the USA and memorial programmes for colleagues.

Volunteering to work with this collection appealed to me because of my undergraduate degrees in journalism, international relations and comparative politics and the fact that my parents are retired educators. I am pursuing a Master’s of Science at UCL in business analytics and management to challenge myself in a more quantitative environment and to be prepared to help organisations make sense of large amounts of data and take action. Listing items in this collection has given me an affinity with Lauwerys, who was grounded in scientific thinking, but obviously honed qualitative and diplomatic skills as well throughout his life, embodying the spirit of what his contemporaries called “permanent education.”

Issues Lauwerys faced in his lifetime are not that different from conversations occurring today. His collection considers what technological change means for teaching; how education can advance shared democratic ideals and equality; and how to promote lifelong learning and job training. In international comparative fields like Lauwerys’, themes emerge that there may be clear distinctions among different countries, but ultimately, we all strive for similar values and ends; there is more that unites than divides. One item in the collection, a published keynote address given by Lauwerys, sums this up for teachers, ending with the words: “Similar ideals animate teachers everywhere, in every country and continent…We can learn much from one another because we are all trying sincerely to do the same kind of job and because we all believe that, through education, the world of the future can be made better than the world of today.”

Teodora Lazar:
Theodora at the Desk SmilingI am Teodora, one of the volunteers listing all of the reading material in Joseph A. Lauwerys’ personal library. I cannot tell which reason influenced me to work with the IOE’s Special Collections and Archives more: my studies in Art History and Material Studies which, by default, bring me closed to any piece of heritage and culture, or my passion for volunteering, which constantly challenges me to step beyond my comfort zone. But I know for sure that the mixture between these two reasons always manages to get me closer to who I want to be.

After all, it may seem that all we as volunteers at the IOE’s Special Collections and Archives is to work with books, but few words incorporate as much meaning and deep substance as a ‘book’ does. Taking a peek into Lauwerys’ personal collection I got to recognise multiple languages by just a few words written on the title, I discovered letters, newspaper pages and dedications from authors and, most of all, I now open every book with the hope and curiosity of finding something important.  They’re not just  books…

It goes without saying that we are tremendously appreciative of the help that our volunteers provide.  Their valuable work will benefit the library and future researchers.  So a BIG thank you, Ashley and Teodora! We hope that the experience you gain from this will help you too in the future.

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