Friday, 3 August 2012

New accession: Medical Women’s Federation: Scottish Eastern Branch (MWF: SEB)

We have been lucky to receive the papers of the MWF: SEB, dating from approximately 1917 – 2006 (Acc 12/030). The collection contains Advisory Council Papers, minutes, syllabus cards, financial papers, correspondence, campaign papers, newspaper clippings, and MWF historical papers. They are therefore a rich and comprehensive source of information on this branch, part of the Scottish region of the MWF, a UK-wide organisation founded in 1917 with the intention of promoting female doctors, and women’s health. 

The minutes of MWF: SEB Council meetings from  the 1920s and 1930s illustrate the breadth of areas in which these female doctors were engaged and reflect the concerns of the MWF at a national level:  the scale of salaries for public health officials (especially with regard to equal pay), ante-natal care, work with other national organisations such as the British Medical Association, and birth control. The latter had become a contentious issue in the wake of Marie Stopes’ work and the minutes of February 1928 indicate that the members of the Medical Women’s Students Association had asked the MWF for a lecture on the subject as there was no official teaching. The Council reflected that it “might be helpful for the Final Year students also to have a talk from someone engaged in active practice”; presumably they meant from a doctor engaged in prescribing birth control, rather than using it!
MWF: SEB Advisory Council Minutes, February 1928

As well as their campaigning and education focus, the branch produced an annual syllabus; monthly meetings with speakers which also served as social functions. Together these records show the interconnectedness of many Scottish doctors, their interests and associations, valuable information for researchers. The accession will complement existing collections relating to eminent Edinburgh-based female doctors, such as Helen Millar Lowe  , whose names appear within the records as active members of the MWF: SEB. 

MWF: SEB Syllabus, 1961 - 1962

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