Alys Russell, Suffrage Campaigning and Work for Graduate Women, 1888-1930. Campaigning during the 1918 election for her niece, Ray Strachey, Alys Russell wrote to her cousin, M.Carey Thomas, Dean of Bryn Mawr College, USA, ‘it is absolutely bliss to have a Vote, even better than I expected. All the political parties and Agents are so polite to us, and they are so anxious to please and to get our votes. I have always worked at elections, but hating my undignified position. Now it is absolutely different and I really feel free’. Although ‘blissful’ Alys was also realistic. The day after the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1918, she had written to M.Carey Thomas, ‘Though we have the vote we still have to fight every point of equal opportunity and equal status.
The paper draws on letters from Alys to M Carey Thomas (deposited in the Bryn Mawr archive) to discuss Alys’ active assistance in Ray Strachey’s 1918 parliamentary campaign in Brentford and Chiswick and Alys’ nomination (together with her brother Logan Pearsall Smith) of the ‘sensible schoolmistress’, Emily Phipps BA, in the Chelsea ward. The paper will also use Alys’ letters to explore some of the continuities pre and post 1918 in her work towards ‘equal opportunities and equal status’ for women in and beyond higher education. Here she drew on familial links with M.Carey Thomas at Bryn Mawr (where she was an alumna and acted as Examiner), the contacts she developed as a college wife (of Bertrand Russell), her position as a council member of Bedford College, and networking through (and on behalf of) the British and International Federations of University Women.
Presented at Education, College Women and Suffrage: International Perspectives, Royal Holloway University of London, 13-14 June 2018