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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleSoper, Mrs Marjorie
Ref No8SUF/B/128
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 26 & Disc 27
Date22 Feb 1977
Extent128a - 46:03 mins, 128b - 64:40 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biography for Eleanor Rathbone
DescriptionInterview took place at New Hall Farm, London Road, Harlow, Essex CM17 9LU. Interviewee was an employee of Eleanor Rathbone. Also see other interviews related to Eleanor Rathbone [8SUF/B/137, 8SUF/B/140, 8SUF/B/169]. Interview is in two parts 8SUF/B/128a and 8SUF/B/128b.

Interview summary, 8SUF/B/128a:
0:00 mins:
Eleanor Rathbone a puritan. Marjorie Soper starting work for the Family Endowment Society (FES), possibly in 1929. Always keen on family allowances. Gilbert Murray and Eleanor Rathbone at the job interview. FES a low profile organisation run by volunteers. Rathbone thought Soper - then Miss Green - too young for the job. After Sir Archibald Sinclair asked her to remain with the Scottish Young Liberals, Rathbone offered her the FES job. Rathbone portly and motherly-looking, creative but unsuited for parliament. Formidable but conscious she was not a social success. She would never have obeyed a whip. After the 1936 debate on equal pay she was cold-shouldered by feminists.

15:00 mins:
Rathbone criticised for having shares in an armaments company. Marjorie Soper with the FES from 1930-1939, involved in research and propaganda for family allowances. Published The Family Endowment Chronicle. At the time of the New Deal in the United States of America, Marjorie Soper wrote a New Deal for Children in the Chronicle, signing it Hiram P Pocklewater. Rathbone furious to find out Pocklewater was Soper. Rathbone not fun but interesting and demanding. FES office across from the House of Lords. Two organisers went around the country. Rathbone popular with miners and cotton workers. One of the organisers, a Mrs Freeth, wrote reports.

30:00 mins:
Many schemes for family allowances. Rathbone quick to give credit. Soper ghost wrote articles for Rathbone. Rathbone hard-working and absent-minded. Rathbone and Eva Hubback admired each other. Hubback a strategist with contacts, Rathbone the thinker and leader. Mary Stocks a 'disciple' of Rathbone, more original than Hubback.

Interview summary, 8SUF/B/128b:
0:00 mins:
Soper's job to propagate family allowances. Rathbone's enormous load of work. Rathbone financed and directed the FES. The two organisers' roles. Soper's canvassing in south Wales.The FES less active in the depression; its income decreased. Soper took on two roles - family allowances and secretary for the National Council - later Union - for Equal Citizenship, an umbrella organisation like the Townswomen's Guild. Rathbone considered family allowances an integral part of the 'new feminism.' Soper's job in the National Council.

15:00 mins:
Soper moved to Thames House and had a typist. Hubback organised; Rathbone aloof. Both dedicated, with high expectations. Elizabeth Macadam like a wife to Rathbone, and much loved. Soper thought her fussy and patronising. Rathbone regarded Mary Stocks 'as a daughter.' Soper proposed a scheme whereby surplus milk would be sold to the government at cost price for malnourished children.

30:00 mins: Children's nutrition (subsidised milk, increased children's allowances, unemployment compensation and extended school meals) a better battle than family allowances. The British Medical Association's (BMA) report on minimum nutritional requirements. Children's Nutritional Council lunch on the BMA diet. Soper's memorandum criticising the Chief Medical Officer over malnutrition. Ramsay MacDonald received a deputation, along with Robert Boothby, Harold Macmillan and Duncan Sandys. A woman called Mrs Burton donated £2,000.

45:00 mins: The National Union for Equal Citizenship appointed Sybil Wingate as part-time secretary, later became the Townswomen's Guild. Soper worked on the bill to prevent wives being disinherited. After the Second World War she worked for the Royal Agricultural Committee. Lost contact with Rathbone and Hubback. Rathbone a model of integrity. Hubback's Jewishness irrelevant. They belonged to a network of women who had attended university. Mary Stocks a brilliant speaker.

60:00 mins: Eleanor Rathbone eliminated her own kind, educated and wealthy. The Women's Leader edited by Enid Goulden Bach, Mrs Pankhurst's niece. Soper's opinion of Christabel Pankhurst.
Related Record8SUF/B/137
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 45
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