Key Collections Series: Women’s history

Many of the collections in Heritage Quay demonstrate the ways that women sought opportunities to acquire education and build more independent and prosperous lives for themselves. From the early part of the 19th century the records of the Huddersfield Female Educational Institute and subsequent incarnations of the Technical Colleges demonstrate how education for women transformed from the traditional ‘female’ skills of cookery and needlework, to more academic and industrial courses and how opportunities to pursue technical and higher education increasingly began to open up to them.

Photograph from the School & University records of the Scholes Monaghan Archive, pre 1917.
Photograph from the School & University records of the Scholes Monaghan Archive, pre 1917.
Midwifery students, Ruby Ward Archive, c1940s.
Midwifery students, Ruby Ward Archive, c1940s.











The experience of women in employment can be examined through the oral histories of nurses gathered in the Graham Thurgood archive, and documents relating to women’s employment in nursing and midwifery (Huddersfield Royal Infirmary archive; Ruby Ward archive). Women as advocates, both politically and for social causes, e.g. pensioners rights, can be traced through the records of women’s groups in political parties (Colne Valley, Denby Dale and Huddersfield Labour Parties) or in individual collections (Noreen Logan archive). While the extensive arts and music collections at Heritage Quay (British Music Collection, Mikron Theatre Company, Huddersfield Amateur Operatic Society…) contain an immeasurable number of stories that reveal the lives, careers and influence of women on the national and international cultural landscape.

Mikron Theatre Company production poster for A Woman's Place, 2003
Mikron Theatre Company production poster for A Woman’s Place, 2003











Catalogued Collections

Graham Thurgood Archive –

Noreen Logan Archive (Relating to Huddersfield Labour Party) –

Wesley Historical Society (Yorkshire) –


Uncatalogued Collections

University of Huddersfield Archive –

Scholes-Monaghan Archive –

Ruby Ward Archive –



Pursue your own research using the collections

Find out about our events exploring the collections- many free


“The female of the species” – Oastler College

ITV has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with the series “Britain As Seen on ITV“.

The six shows celebrate 60 years of ITV footage, and look at how real life in Britain was portrayed through a wealth of ITV Studios owned material.

Episode five features female students at Huddersfield’s Oastler College of Education, which merged with Huddersfield College of Technology in 1970 to form the Huddersfield Polytechnic.

The Oastler students feature about 3 minutes into the programme (NB registration required with ITV website to view)

The British Music Collection exhibits on The Google Cultural Institute for International Women’s Day

We are delighted to share with you a fantastic online exhibition that showcases items from the British Music Collection on Google’s new online exhibition platform, The Google Cultural Institute.

BMC Exhibition for International Women's Day 1

A Wo(man)’s Work is Never Done’ has been curated by Poulomi Desai on behalf of Sound and Music for International Women’s Day. The exhibition reveals some of the personal stories of women composers within the British Music Collection and examines the relationships between the works these composers created and the social, cultural and political contexts of their time.

As Poulomi’s introduction says,

‘Using the idiom of “A wo(man)’s work is never done”, an exploration was called for of what might be considered ‘feminist’ and ‘radical’ – recordings, notes, videos and scores from anyone who considered themselves to be on the margins – artistic, social, cultural, political. There were specific interests in finding: ‘Unfinished’ scores and pieces, and Noise based, Dada, Fluxus, ‘nonsense’, poetry, text sound works and graphic scores. One of the aims was to highlight work that is on the fringes of contemporary new music scenes and interweave this with the archived works of composers in the British Music Collection.’

BMC Exhibition for International Women's Day 2

It was a pleasure to assist Poulomi with her exploration into the British Music Collection and we are delighted to support such an interesting piece of research into the unique collections that we care for. We certainly hope that this will inspire many more to explore the fascinating range of stories that are awaiting discovery within the Heritage Quay searchroom!

Feeling inspired? Then why not search the online catalogue here and get in touch with us

What a week it’s been in Heritage Quay!

What a week it’s been in Heritage Quay!

Last week was our first official week here in the new Archives so I thought today would be a good time to reflect on the breath and value of what we’ve got up to in that short space of time.

The week began with the launch of Heritage Quay by Gary Verity (from our funders HLF), Cllr Ken Smith (Mayor of Kirklees Council) and a small group of invited guests. What was so pleasing for me was the sheer range of people who came to support us. I met not only University staff, funders and major partners but more local individuals and groups who will play a large part in our future.

HQ launch-62

On Tuesday we hosted the Royal Historical Society and the University’s History Department with a fascinating lecture from Dr Alex Shepard of the University of Glasgow who talked about her research into the experience of women in the past, a key theme of our collections.

Dr Sheppard talks to University history students
Dr Sheppard talks to University history students

Wednesday saw Heritage Quay host a performance by one of our newest partners, Mikron Theatre Company. With their archive coming to us in the near future the very well attended show felt like a brilliant way to mark the start of a great relationship. Lindsay followed up on the performance by speaking at the Mikron Friends event on Satuday.

Friday was relatively quiet – but it was the first Through the Quay-hole tour of the archive, led by Rob. Curious staff came down on their lunchbreaks and left knowing a lot more about what we’ve got and how they can use it. If you’re interested too make sure you book on a tour in the future.

It all ended with Rugby League on Saturday. Fans from across the country came to Heritage Quay for Supporters Direct’s Voice of the Fans day – it was awesome to finish the week feeling a part of the Rugby League community.

Picture of Rugby League forum
Neil Hampshire and Phil Caplan quiz Blake Solly of the Super League on the future of the sport

Of course we’ve also welcomed staff, students and the public who have just come to look around and see what’s going on (and play with the Big Curvy Screen!)

Picture of someone using the interactive screen in Heritage Quay
Have you tried it yet?