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About the WI

The Women's Institute (WI) was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation's aims have broadened and the WI is now the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK. The WI will celebrate its centenary in 2015 and currently has 212,000 members in around 6,600 WIs.

The WI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

Who we are

NFWI Board of Trustees

The National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) Board of Trustees consists of twelve elected members, plus the Chair of the Federations of Wales Committee (elected by federations in Wales) who is an ex-officio board member. The NFWI Board can co-opt two further trustees from within the membership, so the Board can be a maximum of 15 trustees in total. The Trustees appoint four officers from their number: the Chair, the Honorary Treasurer and two Vice Chairmen.

NFWI Senior Staff

There are nine members of Senior Staff who head key departments in the organisation. The staff team is led by the NFWI General Secretary.

How to find us

Directions to:

NFWI London 
NFWI-Wales
Denman


The NFWI headquarters is located in Fulham, London. Follow the link for a very brief history about the building.

Phone: 0207 371 9300
Open Hours: 09:00-17:00 Mon-Fri
Address: 104 New Kings Road, London SW6 4LY
Email: hq@nfwi.org.uk


Funding

The majority of the WI's income comes from annual membership subscriptions, which is supported by funds raised by our trading arm, WI Enterprises. Other sources of revenue include grant-making bodies, educational trusts, commercial sponsors and investments.

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Federation Locations

Use the interactive map to locate federations within a region…

A national charity set up to represent WI members across the UK and provide guidance and support to federations and WIs. The NFWI board provides overall leadership to the WI organisation.
Charities providing opportunities for various activities for WI members in their region. There are 69 federations across England, Wales and the Islands.
Charities providing opportunities for various activities for WI members in their region. There are 69 federations across England, Wales and the Islands.
Independent local charities for any women over the age of 18 to join. There are just under 7,000 WIs across England, Wales and the Islands.
Independent local charities for any women over the age of 18 to join. There are just under 7,000 WIs across England, Wales and the Islands.
Independent local charities for any women over the age of 18 to join. There are just under 7,000 WIs across England, Wales and the Islands.

Key document downloads

History

The WI archives contain a brief history of the WI movement from its origins in Canada in 1897 and the first WIs in Britain in 1915, up to the present day.

The material is presented as a time line. After a short piece about the origins of the movement, the time line has been divided into decades. At the beginning of each decade there is a brief summary of events, setting the scene and giving the context to what was happening in the WI during those years. For each year there are headlines for the main events. For many of these events, or people, further information is provided on a linked page, just click on the section underlined.

These archive documents have been kindly compiled by archivist and Denman tutor Anne Stamper, who has drawn on previously published material including copies of the WI's original monthly magazine Home and Country, which dates back to 1919, and other documents deposited in the NFWI archives.

The NFWI and Denman archives are deposited at the Women's Library, which has recently moved to its new home at the London School of Economics (LSE) library, where forms part of a major collection and is accessible to the public The material is now included in the Genesis project, a mapping initiative to identify and develop access to women's history sources in the British Isles. The searchable index is available at http://www.genesis.ac.uk and information is also available on http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk.

The records of many individual WIs and federations are deposited in their local County Record Offices, where they can also be accessed by the public, though it is usually wise to order them in advance.

The origins

The Women's Institute Movement in Britain started in 1915. During the First World War it was formed to encourage countrywomen to get involved in growing and preserving food to help to increase the supply of food to the war-torn nation.

Click here to discover historical events that took place in during the WI's formative years.

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

For archivists and researchers

Quick links