Thursday, 19 July 2012

Talk: ‘Woman’s Outlook: a surprisingly modern magazine?’

I will be doing a talk on the former Co-operative Women’s Guild periodical Woman’s Outlook at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum next year (Thursday March 21), as part of a series of lectures on aspects of co-operative history, and would love to hear from anyone who has memories of reading the magazine between 1919 and 1967.

Working in close proximity to the National Co-operative Archive, I have developed a fascination with Outlook. For nearly five decades it was the voice of the Co-operative Women’s Guild, the campaigning organisation which worked to raise the status of women both in the co-operative movement and in society, and onetime editor Mary Stott later rose to prominence as a longstanding editor of the Guardian women’s page. From its origins in Manchester in 1919, Outlook provided an enticing mixture of articles encompassing both the personal and the political, combining fashion, fiction, features and recipes with advice for working women – not dissimilar to the content of women’s magazines today!

Woman’s Outlook: a surprisingly modern magazine?’ will explore some of the key issues addressed in Outlook, from suffrage and peace to maternity benefits, pensions and nursery education, and look at how the magazine encouraged women to get involved in campaigning for a better world – at the same time as helping prepare them to take on more prominent roles in co-operative societies.

Topics covered by Outlook such as female representation in parliament, equal pay and healthy eating remain highly relevant today, and the talk will end by evaluating whether the type of content provided by 21st century women’s lifestyle magazines has really changed much since the days of Outlook.

I would love to hear from any women who were members of the Women’s Guild in this period, especially those who remember reading Outlook or any other co-operative periodicals, as well as anyone who has any interest in the magazine. If you can help, or can put me in touch with anyone who might be able to help, please email

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