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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleBartels, Miss Olive
Ref No8SUF/B/078
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 17
Date27 Mar 1976
Extent78a - 56:53 mins, 78b - 76:57 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biography for Olive Bartels
DescriptionInterview took place at The Witterings, Grove lane, Iden, Rye. Interview in 2 parts: 8SUF/B/078a and 8SUF/B/078b.

Interview summary:
0:00 Mother one of the 'Nine graces'. Family background. Mother's involvement in suffrage work and deputation to House of Commons. Working with Grace Roe in Ipswich, Chelmsford and Cambridge. Relation between National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU). Tour in America with Christabel Pankhurst [1914]. Disliked Christabel Pankhurst's attitude to war. Successor to Grace Roe. Leaving WSPU. Went to France with the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). Joined National Union of Women Teachers in the 1930s, organising on equal pay and lifting the marriage bar. Class dimension of the suffrage movement. Hostility when standing in gutter selling newspapers or chalking pavements.
15:00 Difficulties of public speaking - at one rowdy meeting had cow dung thrown in her face. Interruption of Herbert Henry Asquith's visit to Cupar, Scotland. Received £2 a week as expenses and instructed not to get caught. Worked for the National Union of Women's Teachers for 7 years. Market garden venture in Guernsey with a woman friend wasn't financially successful. Employed within the Land Settlement Association in the early 1930s. Lady [Stella] Reading a personal friend. Joined the Women's Voluntary Service [WVS, later to known as the Women's Royal Voluntary Service] in the Second World War. University of Dublin gave her mother cap and gown (BA) - unusual for women to receive. Mother married beneath her social class to Mr Bartels, an army contractor with large debts.

30:00 Family background; her mother's side were a military family. Death of elder sister, brother and father. At 13 moved to Dulwich, so her brother could go to school there. Went to girls' public day school at Streatham after home-schooling.

45:00 Mud March whilst still at art school. Joining WSPU and losing friends. Sisters involved in the WSPU, chalking pavements. Mother sold papers outside Charing Cross Post Office once a week in her fifties. Olive sent to Ulster, Northern Ireland to get militancy going. Night she arrived, suffragettes committed arson. Hostile WSPU meeting at Cambridge University - stink bombs were set off. WSPU rules for militancy. Inciting young female teacher to commit act of arson at Storey's Way at Cambridge University, Olive created an alibi for herself. The teacher was caught and imprisoned. Olive's involvement in pillarbox arson.

0:00 mins:
Strategies for escaping arrest during the Cat and Mouse Act [1913]; using a decoy and the WSPU Bodyguard to remove Emmeline Pankhurst from guarded flats. Strain of suffrage work. History of women's suffrage too focused around leaders and not the rank and file. Women's involvement in the First World War. Charm of Emmeline Pankhurst. [Lady] Stella Reading not a suffragette. Men in WSPU. Understudying Grace Roe.

15:00 mins:
Canvassing houses. Work at Chelmsford and Cambridge - making posters, booking meetings. Humour in the movement. WSPU Bodyguard. Getting Annie Kenney - a mouse - on the platform to speak in Glasgow. Emmeline Pankhurst's dress code. Correspondence from Christabel Pankhurst from USA about her book. Grace Roe's reticence to speak about Christabel Pankhurst's turn to religion. Christabel's life in Paris and loss of influence after First World War.

30:00 mins:
Family support of [Charles] Parnell and Home Rule. Christabel Pankhurst's single-issue campaign for the vote. Olive's voting tendencies now. Dressing as a veiled widow, hiding from police at the Ivanhoe Hotel. Experience of becoming chief WSPU organiser when Grace Roe was arrested. Women who acted as go-betweens in the WSPU, including [Mildred] Mansel. Grace Roe's ability as an organiser. First experience of militancy: [Marion] Wallace-Dunlop briefing women on window breaking attempt, before the action ceased under the command of the Pethick-Lawrences.

45:00 mins:
Organisers role in inciting militant acts. Opinion about suffrage papers and the Suffragette Fellowship. Work with National Union of Women Teachers against the marriage bar. Dislike of Sylvia Pankhurst. Olive's older sister, Margaret, interrupting church service at Westminster Abbey to deliver pro-suffrage message.

60:00 mins:
Younger sister, Ruth, chalking pavements. Brother joined the Irish Republic Movement. Family background. Disdain for the Women's Liberation Movement - trying too much to be like men. Decline of reticence on sex matters during her lifetime. Her overall political outlook in later life. Her mother's family reaction to marrying a man of a 'lower' socio-economic class.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 24 / Tape 25
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