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Papers of Women Administrative Officers in Colonial Africa


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Reminiscences, press cuttings, circulars, photographs and associated material of women who served in the Colonial Service in Africa and the West Indies (one contribution only from the West Indies), mainly relating to the years 1945 to 1960.


  • Creation: 1944-1984


1.2 Linear metres (8 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Papers noted as being under donor's embargo may not be quoted from or published without the donor's consent.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 1799 (i), fols.1-3].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 1799 (1-46)

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 5006


Reminiscences, press cuttings, circulars, photographs and associated material of women who served in the Colonial Service in Africa and the West Indies (one contribution only from the West Indies), mainly relating to the years 1945 to 1960.

Biographical / Historical

The papers in this collection were amassed by the Oxford Development Records Project (ODRP) (successor to the Oxford Colonial Records Project), which set out to preserve the reminiscences of women who had served as Administrative Assistants in the Colonial Service in various African territories. Potential contributors were sent an aide-memoire (see Box I, (i)) which they were invited to answer in the form of a memorandum on their experiences in the Service, adding any original papers they were willing to donate to the Project.

Women Administrative Assistants were recruited by the Colonial Office for a period of about 10 years immediately after the Second World War, when there was a severe shortage of male officers, so these papers relate mainly to the years 1945 to 1960. The terms of employment were very different from their male counterparts': women were only eligible for temporary posts, they had no chance of promotion and they were obliged to resign on marriage (with a very few exceptions, such as Dr. Beryl Steele (32) and Isabel Popplewell (29), who managed to carry on working after they were married). On the whole, therefore, the periods of service for these women tend to be short, often lasting only one tour or even less.

The countries covered in this collection comprise, with one exception, British colonial African territories, with the majority of contributors having worked in Tanganyika and Nigeria, and a few in Nyasaland, Uganda, Kenya, Northern Rhodesia, the Gold Coast and the Gambia. The exception to this is a contributor who applied for an African post, but who ended up working in the West Indies (Lady Peck (27)). There is also a contribution from a former Woman Administrative Assistant (WAA) who became a Recruitment Officer at the Colonial Office and who was involved in recruiting other WAAs (Mair Morris (26)).

The contributors are listed alphabetically under their married names, each being given a number. Details of their postings are underneath and then a description of the papers donated.

Alphabetical list of all women contacted for the project

  1. AITCHISON, Angela (nee Congers-Reeve). Nigeria. No contribution.
  2. BARNES, Lesley (nee Wanchope). Nyasaland. No contribution.
  3. BELL, M.P. Tanganyika. Box I (1), letter to ODRP only.
  4. BOWMAN, Dorothy (nee Ross). Tanganyika. Box I (1A).
  5. BROWN, Helen E. (formerly Mrs. Collins). Tanganyika. Box I (2).
  6. BURNESS, Margaret. The Gambia and Nigeria. Box I (3).
  7. CLAYTON, Aileen Bowen (nee Morris). Nigeria. Box I (4).
  8. COLLINGS, Jean Munro (nee Bruce). Tanganyika. Box I (5).
  9. CORRIE, Morag. Nigeria. Box I (6).
  10. CRAUFURD-BENSON, Kathleen Mary (nee Evett). Northern Rhodesia. Box I (7).
  11. DANIELS, Margery (nee Bell). Nigeria. Box I (8).
  12. DAVIES, Carol (nee Allen). Nigeria. Box I (9).
  13. DAVIES, Marjorie Eileen (nee Wilkinson). Nigeria. Box I (10).
  14. DRENNAN, Marjorie (nee Haworth). Tanganyika. No contribution.
  15. DUFFUS, June Rose (nee Betteridge). Tanganyika. Box I (11).
  16. FOREMAN, Catherine H. Tanganyika. No contribution.
  17. FOTTRELL, Zelma Louisa (nee Wood). Nigeria. Box II (12).
  18. GORDON-SMITH, Christine A. Nyasaland. Box II (13), correspondence with ODRP only.
  19. HADOW, Lady Marie (nee Moiser). Tanganyika. Box II (14), correspondence with ODRP only.
  20. HEANEY, Kathleen (nee Chapman). Tanganyika. Box II (15).
  21. JAMES, Anne Rebecca. Tanganyika and Nyasaland/Malawi. Box II (16).
  22. JENKINS, Carolyn Mary. Nigeria. Box II (17).
  23. JOHNSON, Mary (nee MacIntyre). Tanganyika. Box II (18).
  24. KING, Mary Margaret (nee Beaton). Nigeria. Box II (19).
  25. LESLIE, Ann Muriel (nee Burkinshaw). Tanganyika. Box III (20).
  26. LONGDEN, Janet Mary (nee Lloyd). Nigeria. Box IV (21).
  27. MACDERMOT, Patricia Mary. Nigeria. Box IV (22).
  28. MACFEE, Joan Margaret (nee Cunliffe). Tanganyika. Box V (23).
  29. MACIVER, Kay. Uganda. No contribution.
  30. MACKAY, Doreen I.G. Tanganyika. Box V (24), correspondence with ODRP only.
  31. MAHON, Maureen. Nigeria. No contribution.
  32. MILLER, Maureen L. (nee Swindlehurst). Tanganyika. Box V (25).
  33. MORRIS, Mair A. (nee Evans). The Gambia. Box V (26).
  34. PECK, Lady Alison M. (nee MacInnes). West Indies. Box V (27).
  35. PHELPS, Nancy (nee Till). Tanganyika. Box V (28), correspondence with ODRP only.
  36. POPPLEWELL, Isabel D.E. (nee Matthews). Tanganyika. Box V (29).
  37. PRINCE, Christine. Nigeria. Box V (30).
  38. PURDY, Elizabeth (nee Sharp). Nigeria. Box V (31).
  39. REID, Nancy S. Tanganyika. Box V (31A), correspondence only.
  40. STEELE, Dr. Beryl (nee Lake). Tanganyika. Box V (32).
  41. STROUD, Daphne I. (nee Vandepeer). Kenya. Box V (32A), correspondence with ODRP only.
  42. TAYLOR, Pamela (nee Risley). Tanganyika. Box V (33).
  43. TERRY, E. Daphne. Tanganyika. Box V (33A), letter to ODRP only.
  44. TILNEY, Rosalinde H. de R. (nee de Renzy-Martin). Tanganyika and Kenya. Box V (34).
  45. TREITEL, Phyllis Margaret (nee Cook). Nigeria. Box VI (35).
  46. TUNSTALL, Mabel. Tanganyika. Box VII (36).
  47. TURNER, M.C. Pamela. Tanganyika. Box VIII (37), correspondence with ODRP only.
  48. WAND-TETLEY, Felicia Marie (nee Bloxham). Nigeria. Box VIII (38).
  49. WATKINS, Ariel (Hilda). Tanganyika. No contribution.
  50. WATT, Maud Cochrane. Tanganyika. Box VIII (39).
  51. WATTS, Alexandra Grizel (nee Budge). Uganda. Box VIII (40).
  52. WHITE, Stella Mary (nee Bentley-Goddard). Gold Coast. Box VIII (41).
  53. WHITFIELD, Gillian Mary (nee Forrest). Nigeria. Box VIII (42).
  54. WILKIN, Eleanor Mary (nee Lewis). Tanganyika. Box VIII (43), correspondence with ODRP only.
  55. WINNINGTON-INGRAM, Maude E.M. (nee Lee). Tanganyika. Box VIII (44).
  56. WREN, Anne Davies (nee Maltman). Nigeria. Box VIII (45).
  57. WRENCH, Sheelagh Mary (nee Lynch). Nigeria. Box VIII (46).


  1. (Box I) Bowman--Duffus
  2. (Box II) Fottrell--King
  3. (Box III) Leslie
  4. (Box IV) Longden--MacDermot
  5. (Box V) MacFee--Tilney
  6. (Box VI) Treitel
  7. (Box VII) Tunstall
  8. (Box VIII) Turner--Wrench

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 838 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford: 1996).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated to the library through the Oxford Development Records Project.


  • Women Administrative Officers in Colonial Africa, 1944-1960 by Pat Holden. Oxford Development Records Project Report 5 (Oxford: [1985]).
Catalogue of papers of Women Administrative Officers in Colonial Africa
c.1984; edited, converted to EAD and published online 2016
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom