About this Archive
(1879-1966) co-operative movement activist and politician
Caroline Selena Ganley was born in September 1879 at East Stonehouse, Plymouth to James Blumfield and his wife, Selina Mary (née Norgrove). James Blumfield was a bombardier at the time of her birth, and later a tailor. She attended Plymouth church and national schools, and Ottershaw School, Chertsey. In July 1901 she married James William Henry Ganley, a tailor's cutter. The couple lived in Westminster before settling in Battersea, and raised two sons and a daughter.
Mrs Ganley became active in left-wing politics in opposition to the Second South African War, and in response to the poor social conditions of the working-class communities in which she lived. She joined the Social Democratic Federation in 1906 and campaigned for suffrage. She was instrumental in setting up a socialist women's circle in Battersea and developing it into a branch of the Women's Labour League (later the Labour Party women's sections). In 1914 she was involved in the British committee of the International Congress, a group of anti-war suffragists who detached themselves from the more patriotic National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies to work with European women for peace.
After the war, she continued to campaign for citizenship rights. She joined the Co-operative and Labour parties, and in November 1919 won a seat on Battersea borough council. She chaired the health committee, and through her efforts a well-equipped maternity home was opened in Battersea in 1921. In 1920 she became one of the first women magistrates in London, and for twenty years sat in juvenile courts. She also served as a London county councillor and as a member of the London county education committee.
In the 1930s Mrs Ganley sought nomination as a Co-operative Party candidate. In 1935 she stood unsuccessfully for Paddington North but in 1945 she was elected Co-operative-Labour MP for Battersea South. In 1950 she held the seat but in the 1951 general election she was defeated. Mrs Ganley was appointed CBE in 1953. That same year she was re-elected to Battersea borough council where she continued to serve until 1965.
Ganley was also widely active within the co-operative movement and was an elected director of the West London Society in 1918. She continued as director following the merger with the London Society in 1921 to form London Co-operative Society, and retained that position until 1946.
In 1942 she became the first woman president of the London Co-operative Society. She also belonged to the Lavender Hill branch of the Women's Co-operative Guild and held a number of official positions in the guild's national committee structure, including a place on the south-eastern sectional council. In June 1943 she was honoured by the guild as one of the speakers at its diamond jubilee demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall. Mrs Ganley died in August 1966 at the Bolingbroke Hospital, Battersea, aged eighty-six.
Scope and content
- Typescript autobiography, c1955
- Miscellaneous papers concerning her career and work, including desk diary and miscellaneous papers and correspondence, 1916-1966.