Special Collections colleagues in the Weston Library have released the online Catalogue of Papers of Women Administrative Officers in Colonial Africa, 1944-1984. This includes 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.
“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.
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)).” from http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/online/blcas/waoca/waoca.html, accessed 20 July 2016