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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleToomer, Miss Mabel re Mary Toomer
Ref No8SUF/B/075
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 16
Date19 Mar 1976
Extent58:14 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biography of Mary Toomer
DescriptionInterview took place at 1b Carlyle Walk, Lincoln. Interviewee is a relative of Mary Toomer.

Interview summary:
0:00 mins:
Mary Toomer was a member of the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU), but did not support militant action and so joined the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) branch in Dorking. The family moved to Lincoln before the First World War. Her father managed a co-operative grocers. Toomer joined the Women's Co-op Guild and became president of the Lincoln Guild. She then became involved with the Worker's Educational Association (WEA) as branch secretary, and was active in the WEA for many years. She also became involved with a local nursery school, St Cuthbert's Lodge. She helped to set up the People's Service Club for the unemployed, including workshops for unemployed men, a garden where the unemployed could grow vegetables, and owned a bungalow where unemployed families could have free holidays. Together with a group of female friends she started a recreation room for soldiers stationed in Lincoln during the First World War called the 'Common Cause Recreation Rooms' after the NUWSS newspaper.

15:00 mins:
She and a district nurse were the only 'ordinary women' in the NUWSS in Lincoln. Mary was a good speaker, a good chairman and a good secretary. She was a member of the Labour Party, but didn't play an active role. In the early 1930s she started a youth club on the new St Giles estate in Lincoln. She was co-opted onto the Lincoln City Council Education Committee in 1939 and served on the Committee until 1969. She enjoyed bicycle-riding and rode until she was seventy. Walking holidays with her sister.

30:00 mins:
Attitude to the home and clothes. She liked sewing as was very good at it, and during the Depression of the 1920s she held a weekly sewing class for wives of unemployed men. Her cooking skills. She pursued her own education through the WEA, and read a lot at home as well. She encouraged her daughters to read, and the family also used to listen to the radio. She was a great supporter of public libraries. During the Second World War she continued with her work for the WEA and the Council's Education Committee, but did not take on any additional war work. She was a strong supporter of comprehensive education.

45:00 mins:
Her strong sense of public duty. She took in a young teacher, Joan Staples, who stayed for six years and became a family friend. She was asked to study for a year at Oxford to become a WEA tutor, but did not want to leave her family. She was asked several times to stand for election to the Council, but she always declined.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 23
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