Scottish Equalities Bulletin 2007 Issue No. 5



Mary Macarthur was born in 1880 in Glasgow. She became a major figure in organising women into trade unions beginning with the Shop Assistant’s Union in 1902, then the Women’s Trade League and eventually she set up the National Federation of Women Workers by amalgamating a number of small unions.

She became the Federation’s General Secretary. From this position she led the strikes and organised support for the jam and pickle workers, bottle washers, tin box makers, cocoa and distillery workers. She was also to the forefront of the fight for legally regulated wages, forcing employers to pay legal minima and made early attempts to argue for equal pay. Her seemingly boundless energy in putting the case for women workers through every channel open to her (and some not) failed her in 1921 when she died of cancer but not before she had joined her union to mainstream unions by amalgamating with the National Union of General and Municipal Workers and put into motion the transformation of the Women’s Trade Union League into the Women’s Section of the TUC General Council.

The Trust
The Mary Macarthur Scholarship Fund was set up in her memory in 1922 by leading Labour Movement personalities. Their purpose was to have the monies raised in Mary’s name used for “the improvement of the educational position of women”. Later a sister fund – the Mary Macarthur Educational Trust – was set up with more detailed objectives all applying to women over the age of 20, which both trusts later adopted as their common aims.

The Criteria for Awards
Please read these carefully before completing the form:
Eligibility: Non-graduate women over the age of 20 who have shown their desire and aptitude for further education by attendance since aged 16 at educational courses or establishments including trade union, co-operative society or political courses. Priority is given to women whose early education was limited, who left school at an early age but have since, through their own efforts, tried to further their education. NO GRANTS for study or travel abroad, or for foreign students studying in the UK, NOR FOR THE STUDY OF SECOND DEGREES.

Type of Grants: (1). One year scholarship awards of approximately £900 for women who gain a
place at one of the following Adult Residential Colleges: Coleg Harlech, Gwynnedd; Fircroft College, Birmingham; Hillcroft College, Surbiton; Newbattle Abbey College, Dalkeith; Northern College, Barnsley; Ruskin College, Ocford.
(2) Exceptionally, if the grant total is not exhausted by awards of type (1), a few
awards may be made of smaller bursaries or grants for women to attend summer schools or lectures or other activities to promote further education up to first degree level. These are to help cover books, transport, childminding etc.

Annual Grant Total: About £4,000 including all grants of both types.

(1). Through the Adult Residential College at which you have been given a
place, on a form supplied and signed by the College for consideration normally July/August, or
(2) To the Secretary in January, May or August for consideration in March, July
or October. A stamped addressed envelope must be enclosed if there is to be any response to the application. Two testimonials from referees should be included.

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