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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleSmieton, Dame Mary
Ref No8SUF/B/154
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 32
Date31 May 1977
Extent86:24 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biography for Mary Smieton
DescriptionInterview took place at 14 St George's Road, St Margaret's, Twickenham, Middx.

Interview summary:
0:00 mins: Her introduction to and involvement with the Junior Council of the London and National Society for Women's Suffrage (LNSWS): what she gained from it in terms of her work. Her interest in women and employment and her own experience of this as a woman civil servant. Her movement from working for the Public Records Office to the Ministry of Labour. The National Association of Women Civil servants (NAWCS). The Council of Women's Civil Servants and its demise. How she benefited from the National Society for Women's Suffrage (NSWS) - her introduction to feminism and views about militancy.

15:00 mins:
Working for The Ministry of Labour as a woman and not feeling isolated. Joining the Oxford and Cambridge Club. Junior Council meetings. Recollections of Ray and Philippa Strachey. Philippa Strachey's elusive character and how she got women to speak. Ray's extrovert, enthusiastic and passionate personality - their sense of humour and appearance. How Ray and Phillipa complemented each other. Miss Douie. Mary Smieton's lack of interest in women's groups per se.

30:00 mins:
Her family background. Her mother's career in the Post Office and attitude to women working. Financial struggle to get Mary to university. Her father's interest in the church and theology, his breakdowns and death. Her education at Wimbledon High School, Bedford College and Oxford University. Organisations and pressure groups supporting women civil servants. Her involvement with the Women's Employment Federation (WEF). Miss Hilton. The Women's Consultative Committee (WCC) and Ernest Bevin's formation of it into an official Ministry of Labour Committee. Irene Ward and the WCC. Caroline Haslett, Mary Sutherland and Dorothy Elliot. Her conferences with Bevin about women's concerns.

45:00 mins:
Bevin's negotiations and approach to women's employment and issues. His opinions of her and vice versa. Trade unions. Caroline Haslett's considerable capabilities and energy as a publicist - the great service she did for women in technical jobs. Mary Smieton's work for the Ministry of Labour. Her radio broadcast with Eleanor Rathbone. Her extensive involvement with the Women's Voluntary Service (WVS). Ernest Brown. Lady Reading (Stella Isaacs) and civil defence work of the WVS.

60:00 mins:
Civil defence work. Her working relation with Lady Reading. Authoritarianism in the WVS. Views about the Townswomen's Guilds and the Women's Institute. Lady Reading's incredible drive and effectiveness. Mary Smieton's essay about Lady Reading at The Fawcett Society. Her administrative work in the office at the WVS and working with the volunteers. Approach to recruitment and the relationship with other women's organisations.

75:00 mins:
Her valuable experience with the WVS paving the way for her future work. Lady Reading's fascination with people. How Mary Smieton found working with volunteers. Her ambivalent views about women's organisations, especially their longevity, and equal opportunities for women. Her personal experience of women doctors compared to men doctors.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 57
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