The Women’s Library at the LSE

Brief History
The Women’s Library was originally established in 1926, as the Library of the London Society for Women’s Service, a non-militant organisation led by Millicent Fawcett. Its first home was a converted pub in Marsham Street, Westminster. Vera Douie, appointed in 1926, was the first librarian of the Women’s Service Library, and she managed and developed the collections until her retirement in 1967. The organisation was renamed the Fawcett Society in 1953 and four years later the Library were renamed the Fawcett Library. The Fawcett Society ran the Library until 1977, when it moved to City Polytechnic, later known as London Guildhall University, and then part of London Metropolitan University

Until 2001, the collections were housed in a basement which was prone to flooding. In order to secure the long-term future of the collections, provide space for expansion and modern research facilities for users, the University sought funding for a new home for the collections. In 1998 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £4.2 million to purchase the site of the old East End wash houses and build a new centre to house the collections. When the Library moved there in 2002, it was renamed The Women’s Library. Ten years later, the Library had to find a new home and LSE became the new custodians in 2013.

The collections are composed of:

  • Printed materials (books, periodocals, press cuttings, ephemera and also audio-visual) which date back to the 16th century.
  • Archives (personal or organisational papers and oral histories) which largely document campaigns that women have instigated around issues related to women lives from the 19th century to present day.
  • Museum collections (objects, textiles and visual materials) with date back to the 18th century.

Contact Details
London School of Economics and Political Science Library and Archive
Houghton Street

Tel : +44 (0)20 7405 7686
Web :
Link for OPAC :
Email :

Opening Times
Opening hours for LSE Library

Accessing the Reading Room

Nearest tube station Holborn