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Education | Celebration | Clubs and Associations | Women's Co-operative Guild

The inclusion of a principle on education by the Rochdale Pioneers, and by the International Co-operative Alliance in its revision of the principles in 1966, demonstrates the importance of education within the co-operative movement. Amongst the many courses and programmes developed were a series of studies in the history and principles of co-operation aimed at all members, from children to adults.

Photograph of certificate issued to Winnie Hughes for attaining junior grade examination stage one, in the subject of co-operation, on 17 March 1930. [SWCC/MND/137/2/65/25]

Spreading the message and spirit of co-operation was part of the educational facet of the movement and one which societies took to different levels. For example, Swansea Co-operative Society undertook to visit every new member to explain in person the principles, objectives and merits of co-operation. Other societies, such as the Aberdare Workmen’s Industrial Co-operative Society, issued their own copies of The Wheatsheaf, a centrally produced publication, as a means to engage their members and others in the movement.

The Wheatsheaf, volume III, number 6, issued by Aberdare Workmen’s Industrial Co-operative Society in December 1898.

Suggested further reading:
• Co-operative College -
• Co-operative News -


The success of the co-operative movement was marked during annual large-scale events, such as International Co-operative Day, and on various occasions at a more local level. Society souvenirs and histories were often published at key events, such as the opening of a new store or when a significant milestone was reached. Celebrations also included occasions for members to actively participate in, including processions, carnivals and performances.

Postcard with image of ‘Jubillee Cwmbach Coop Society June 23.10’. [SWCC/MND/137/2/1/27]

Clubs and Associations
A healthy competition existed within the co-operative movement and many societies had sports clubs and other societies. In addition to sporting competitions co-operative eisteddfods were also organised. Many of the co-operative choirs were of a particularly high standard, with, for example, the Mid-Rhondda Co-operative Juvenile Choir appearing on BBC Children’s Hour.

Programme for concert given by ‘the celebrated Mid-Rhondda Co-operative Juvenile Choir (Ynyshir and Porth Sections) National Winners, BBC Children’s Hour and Celebrated Concerts’. [SWCC/MND/137/2/42/4]

Women’s Co-operative Guild
The role of women within the co-operative movement is particularly associated with the Women’s Co-operative Guild. Formed in 1883 this part of the co-operative movement was involved in charitable work and political and social education. They campaigned on various issues including those primarily effecting women, such as divorce laws and women’s suffrage, and encouraged their members to participate fully in their local co-operative societies.

Photograph of presentation by the Women’s Co-operative Guild to the Mayor of Ammanford of dolls to raise money for disadvantaged children in Ammanford, c1968. [SWCC/MND/137/2/6/11]

Suggested further reading:
• Caring and Sharing: The Centenary History of the Co-operative Women’s Guild (Manchester, 1983)
• Feminism and the Politics of Working Women: The Women’s Co-operative Guild, 1880s to the Second World War by Gillian Scott (London, 1988)
• The Woman with the Basket; the History of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, 1883-1927 by Catherine Webb (London, 1927)

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