Dr Jacqui Turner’s research of the Astor Papers, held at the University of Reading Special Collections, has uncovered an array of letters and documents that chart Nancy Astor’s career and life.

A digital exhibition ‘An Unconventional MP’: The political career of Nancy Astor in 50 documents’, showcases documents to illustrate Nancy Astor’s political career and her legacy. The digital exhibition appeared week by week on Twitter (@LadyAstor100) from 28th November 2018, and a permanent digital exhibition is scheduled to follow. It will make available documents and images from the Astor Papers which communicate key milestones in the career of Nancy Astor and illustrate her legacy from her election in 1919 until the anniversary of her maiden speech in February 1920.

A curated blog series written by an eclectic mix of campaigners, internationally renowned academics, researchers and past and present parliamentarians accompanies the digital exhibition.

We are also very pleased to announce that the long needed ‘go to’ Special Collection on Nancy Astor ‘Nancy Astor Public Women and Gendered Political Culture in Interwar Britain’ is now live at the Open Library of Humanities. The Special Collection is edited by Dr Daniel Grey (university of Hertfordshire) and Dr Jacqui Turner (University of Reading). Daniel Grey is Head of History at Hertfordshire and has published extensively on women, crime and the state. Jacqui Turner is Associate Professor of Modern British Political History and curator of the national Astor100 centenary programme.

Collection launched: 06 Jul 2020

2019 marked the centenary of Nancy Astor’s election to the British Parliament becoming the first woman to take her seat and thus changing democracy forever. Astor was ‘An Unconventional MP’ and this collection considers the parliamentary politics and the gendered culture of the early C20th in which she operated. It engages with ways in which history has influenced the present, conceptualising a ‘future’ grounded in the gendered restrictions of the past. It considers how the identities of Astor and other women were constructed and deployed and how her career has generated gendered discourses on government, citizenship and transformation. This special collection is eclectic in its contributors and contributions; articles address a range of approaches to Astor and her period – new perspectives on Astor, and beyond engagement with Astor as an individual, consideration of issues of gender identity, difference and representation. They provide a new voice and a new legacy.

(Cover image Courtesy of The Box Plymouth in association with Astor100).

OLH Special Collection: Nancy Astor Public Women and Gendered Political Culture in Interwar Britain

Articles will be added on an ongoing basis – keep an eye on this space!


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The Nancy Astor Papers are the most comprehensive collection of papers of any female politician and include political correspondence 1919–1945 and parliamentary papers, general correspondence 1900–1964 and a large volumes of newspaper cuttings 1908–1964.

Image: Dr Jacqui Turner (centre) exploring the Astor Papers with students Melanie Khuddro (left) and Rachel Newton (right).