IALS Contribution to History Day 2023

Written by IALS Library. Presentation created by Information Resources Team |
Photos and documents scattered on a sepia background taken from the IALS archives
IALS logo at the top with Ancestry logo beneath.  Underneath this is a photo montage of records and photographs from the IALS archives with the title of the presentation overlaid under the Ancestry logo.

History Day Presentation for 2023

Digitisation of legal education examination records from the IALS archives.

The IALS presentation for History Day 2023 looks at legal education examination records held by the Institute.  We also look at a collaborative project with Ancestry to digitize archival lists of candidates for the Law Society examinations along with related correspondence.

For more information on the archives held by the Institute please take a look at our dedicated archives section on the website, and our archives guides.

The Project

In 2021, the Institute collaborated with Ancestry to digitize 440 volumes the Law Society’s lists of candidates for examinations along with examination results.  The digitization project covered the period from 1836-1947.  

History Day 23 Focus

For History Day 23, the IALS looks briefly at,

  • UK and Commonwealth law Examination Records from 1836 with reference to the Law Society Final examinations:
    • Council of Legal Education examinations
    • Colonial Examinations

Famous Names 

Found amongst the records are some famous names, including the first women to enter the legal profession after the Sex Disqualification Act (Removal) Act of 1919 came into force.

The First Four Women to Qualify as Solicitors in England

Page from the Law Society's examination records with the four first women to qualify as solicitors circled in red


Maud Crofts (1889-1965)

Mary Pickup (1818-1923)

Mary Sykes (1896-1981)

Carrie Morrison (1888-1950)



The First Black African Woman Called to the Bar 

Entry from the Council for Legal Education examinations for Stella Thomas, the first Black African woman to be called to the bar. Her name is circled in red on the far left of the page with examination results on the right

Stella Thomas (1906-1974)

Stella Thomas was first called to the Bar in 1933.  She was a founding member of the League of Coloured Peoples, an organisation aimed at promoting the rights of African and Caribbean peoples in the UK and Commonwealth. 

On her return to West Africa, she established her own law practice and became West Africa's first female magistrate.


Access from Ancestry

The records digitised for the project can be found on the Ancestry website at link:
https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/62335/. An account will be required to view scanned pages in full.

Find Out more

Find out more about individuals mentioned in the presentation by clicking on our further resources links.  We've also included links to legislation and sites of interest.

Further Resources


Sex Disqualification Act (Removal) of 1919

Source link: https://legislation.gov.uk

King's Printer copy as originally enacted available in PDF format.

Maud Crofts

Scrapbooks of Maud Isabel Crofts 

Source:  Archives Hub (JISC)

“We women want not privileges but equality”

Source: The First 100 Years

Kickass Lady Lawyers: Maud Crofts

Source:  The Portia Post

Maud Crofts: Celebrating the Centenary of Women Lawyers (audio)

Source:  Celebrating the Centenary of Women Lawyers.  An audio file of an article Maud Crofts wrote for The Evening News published on 14 March 1914.


Women under English law by Maud Crofts

IALS Library holds two editions of this book.

Mary Elizabeth Pickup

Mary Elizabeth Pickup

Source:  The First 100 Years

Trailblazing solicitors: the women who broke the barrier

Source:  The Law Society

Mary Sykes

Mary Elaine Sykes, “The Wise Little Owl”

Source:  The First 100 Years

Mary Sykes: ‘a rather independent manner’

Source:  The Law Society Gazette

Mary Sykes: Celebrating the Centenary of Women Lawyers (audio)

Source:  Celebrating the Centenary of Women Lawyers. Includes an interview given by Mary Sykes to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner on 30 June 1949.

Carrie Morrison

Carrie Morrison: “Men say the law is too rough and tumble for women”

Source: The First 100 Years   

Carrie Morrison

Source: The First 100 Years 

Carrie Morrison – an unlikely solicitor

Source:  The Law Society Gazette 

Carrie Morrison: Women's Legal Landmarks

Source:: Women's Legal Landmarks 

Stella Thomas

Stella Thomas, 1906 – 1974

Source:  The Inner Temple 

Stella Jane Marke First Woman Lawyer (Nigeria)

Source:  African Women in Law

Stella Thomas becomes the first West African woman to be called to the Bar

Source:  The First 100 Years 

History Day

History Day is a collaboration between Senate House Library and the Institute of Historical Research and takes place every November.

History Day Collections