I had a wonderful 4 hours at the Women’s Library studying the Women’s Provisional Club (WPC) archive. There was a lot to look at so I just photographed any pages that seemed relevant so that I could get through all four boxes of documents. I learned that Dora joined the WPC in 1932, was its president in 1937 and was treasurer for 20 years from 1951. She seems to have been a permanent fixture on the committee since 1934.

Women’s Provisional Club Committtee 1934-37

In the annual WPC bulletin from 1938 there was a Who’s Who of members and these details have allowed me to investigate many of these women pioneers. The constitution of the club states that there was to be only one member from each profession or industry sector, except for the Civil Service, education and social enterprise. This accounts for the fact that there were about 100 members when there could have been many more. Below are some examples of the amazing women in the club (H denotes Honorary member):

First NameSurnameOccupationDetails
NancyAstor (H)Politician(19 May 1879 – 2 May 1964) was an American-born British politician who was the first woman seated MP, serving from 1919 to 1945.
DianaBeckNeurosurgeon(29 June 1900 – 3 March 1956) was the first female neurosurgeon.
SybilCampbellJudge(9 Oct 1889 – 29 Aug 1977) was the first woman judge in Britain, and remained the only full-time woman judge in England until her retirement.
MaudCroftsSolicitor(16 Jun 1889 – 18 Jan 1965) the first woman to be qualified as a solicitor in England in January 1923.
Prof WinifredCullisPhysiologist(2 June 1875 – 13 November 1956) was a physician and academic, and the first woman to hold a professorial chair at a medical school.
KittyDuchess of Atholl (H)Politician(née Ramsay; 6 November 1874 – 21 October 1960)
MargeryFryJudge(11 Mar 1874 – 21 Apr 1958) was a British prison reformer as well as one of the first women to become a magistrate.
EllaGaskingBusinesswomannée Batchelor OBE (4 Apr 1891 – 17 Dec 1966), was a prominent British businesswoman as chairman and managing director of Batchelors canned foods.
AdelineGenee Isitt (H)Founder Royal Academy Dancing1878-1970 In 1923, Danish born ballet dancer, founder of the “Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain” in 1920. By 1935, the group was granted a Royal Charter. Made a dame in 1950.
BeatriceGordon HolmesFinancier(30 Sep 1884 – 21 Nov 1951) was a British stockbroker, suffragette, trade unionist, and author.
ElizabethHaldane (H) 27 May 1862 – 24 Dec 1937 Scottish JP, author, biographer, philosopher, suffragist, nursing administrator, and social welfare worker.
KathleenHalpinWomen’s gas councilChief Administrator Women’s Voluntary Service; Chair of Fawcett Society, Organising Secretary of the Women’s Gas Council
CicelyHamiltonPlaywright, actor(née Hammill; 15 Jun 1872 – 6 Dec1952), was an English actress, writer, suffragist and feminist
Dame CarolineHaslettEngineer(17 Aug 1895 – 4 Jan 1957) English electrical engineer, champion of women’s rights. First secretary of the Women’s Engineering Society and the founder and editor of its journal, The Woman Engineer. Co-founder of the Electrical Association for Women.
Dr Mary LucasKeene FRCSAnatomist(15 Aug 1885 – 9 May 1977) was professor of anatomy at the London School of Medicine for Women, first woman professor of anatomy in the UK, first woman president of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and a president of the Medical Women’s Federation
GertrudeLeverkusArchitect(26 Sep 1898 – 8 Nov 1989) Leverkus established the women’s committee of RIBA in 1932 promoting the interests of women architects, advising recent graduates and recording cases of discrimination.
Dr MargaretLowenfeldChild Psychologist(4 Feb 1890 – 2 Feb 1973) was a British pioneer of child psychology and play therapy, and a medical researcher in paediatric medicine.
MarionLyonAdvertising Mgr, Punch(1885-1940) first woman executive ever employed by Punch and the first woman advertisement manager of a major publication. Lyon was elected first president of the Women’s Advertising Club of London (WACL)
Eileen C.MacLeodSpeech therapist(1895–1987) was a phonetics researcher at UCL, a pioneering speech therapist, and a formidable trainer of announcers for the BBC.
ChrystalMacMillanBarrister(13 Jun 1872 – 21 Sep 1937) was a suffragist, peace activist, barrister, feminist and the first female science graduate from the Uni of Edinburgh and their first female honours graduate in mathematics.
Dr PhilippaMartinEye surgeoneye surgeon and chairman of the London Eye Hospital
Dr LouisaMartindaleOBGYN(30 Oct 1872 – 5 Feb 1966) English gynaecologist and writer. She also served as magistrate, was a prison commissioner and a member of the National Council of Women.
HildaMartindale CBETreasury(1875-1952) one of the first female civil servants and sought to improve working conditions, particularly for women, throughout her life.
YevondeMiddletonPhotographer(née Cumbers; 5 Jan 1893 – 22 Dec 1975) was an English photographer, who pioneered the use of colour in portrait photography
EmiliePeacockeJournalist, Daily Telegraph(26 Mar 1882 – 25 Jan 1964) First woman reporter at the Daily Express and later led the “women’s department” at the Daily Telegraph.
WinifredRaphael/ SpielmanOccupational psychologist(21 Oct 1898 – 14 Dec 1978) pioneer involved in trying to improve industrial conditions for workers,
EleanorRathbone (H)Politician(12 May 1872 – 2 Jan 1946) was a British Member of Parliament (MP) and long-term campaigner for family allowance and women’s rights.
Gladys MaudSandesGynaecologist(5 Nov 1897 – 17 Jan 1968) was an Irish surgeon and venereologist and the first woman surgeon at the London Lock Hospital in 1925.
RoseStandfieldMusic publisherDirector of Augener Ltd
Lady MargaretViscountess RhonddaFounding President of WPC(12 June 1883 – 20 July 1958) Welsh peeress, businesswoman and suffragette. Founder of Time & Tide mag, and in 1921, the Six Point Group, an action group that focused on the equality between men and women and the rights of the child.
EnidWalkerDentistPioneering dental surgeon. Also on Council of Electrical Assoc for Women
SibylWiddowsChemist(1876–1960) was a member of the Chemistry department at the London School of Medicine for Women for 40 years.
EthelWoodFounder WPCScientific management research, director Samson Clark advertising
EleanorWoodgateMin of HealthDeputy chief inspector, Northern Ireland
(Eleanor) MaudeWoodyardAdvertisingManaging Director, Saward, Baker & Co
ElsieZimmernCountry Women of the World(1876–1967) English women’s rights activist. She became active in the National Council of Women, working on the Maternity and Child Welfare Committee from 1917 to 1928. From 1925 to 1930 she was the General Secretary of the International Council of Women

And of course there was Dora Greene, first woman tech entrepreneur and founder of the Information Services industry! She must have felt completely at home with this extraordinary group of women: her sisters, her supporters, her business network, her political connections, her communications team. For my next book I think I might write a super-heroine novel featuring these incredible women, changing the world, fighting nazism, fascism and misogyny and using their network to achieve their goals.

Published by Mary276

I am an osteopath and author of a memoir of my father, Stranger In My Heart (Unbound, 2018). My debut novel, Power On, is based on the true story of my great aunt, Dora Metcalf, the first female tech entrepreneur.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: