War widows archive donated to Staffordshire University

It is significant that it is being given to us in the one hundredth anniversary of 1918 and the end of World War I and we plan to commemorate this with the exhibition.

Alison Pope, Staffordshire University Library

The War Widows' Association has donated its archive of historically significant material - including letters, meeting minutes and copies of the WWA newsletter - to Staffordshire University.

Among the donated items are the minutes for the first ever WWA meeting and the War Widows’ Stories project which documents oral accounts from women who lost their partners in service.

Chairman of the WWA Mary Moreland said: “We are very grateful to the University for their help throughout the process and for accommodating our archive. It is wonderful that it is now secure in a permanent home.

“It's important for academics and researchers to have this information about the war widows’ journey so that this history isn't lost.”

Alison Pope, from Staffordshire University Library, said: “We are privileged to receive the archive from the War Widows Association and to ensure its safe keeping. We are very proud that the Association has chosen the University as its custodian.”

The archive is a welcome addition to the Thompson Library’s Special Collections, which also houses the Iris Strange Collection  ̶̵  an archive of rare material connected to the fight to secure pensions for British war widows. This features over 300 letters from World War One widows, organisation journals, press cuttings, newsletters, photographs and personal mementoes.

Iris Strange, a war widow herself, was Secretary to the War Widows' Association when it was set up in 1971. Iris bequeathed her papers to Staffordshire University after she formed a friendship with student Janis Lomas, whose research focussed on the history of the war widows.

Janis, who was the first student to complete a history based PhD at Staffordshire University, said: “I'm delighted that the archive is growing, these collections are very important. The Iris Strange collection ends in 1990 and the War Widow Association Archive continues the story.”

The Library plans to create an exhibition of items from both collections which will go on view in the Autumn to coincide with this year’s Remembrance Festival.

Alison Pope, added: “It is significant that it is being given to us in the one hundredth anniversary of 1918 and the end of World War I and we plan to commemorate this with the exhibition.

“It is very satisfying that the two collections will now be under one roof. The archive will be a national resource for those interested in history, sociology and women's studies.”

Special Collections is open to the public. Please contact us at libraryhelpdesk@staffs.ac.uk  to notify us of your intention to visit. 

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