Papers of Winifred Adair-Roberts

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of correspondence and memorabilia relating to Adair-Roberts' involvement in the women's suffrage movement. It comprises a signed photograph of Emmeline Pankhurst in prison costume, [1909]; a 'broad arrow' pin badge as worn by suffragettes after imprisonment, [c.1912]; menu for the celebratory breakfast held by the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) on the release of Muriel Roberts and other suffragettes from Holloway Prison, Mar 1909; a telegram from Sylvia Pankhurst to Miss Adair Roberts; a letter to Adair Roberts from Beatrice Saunders of the WSPU, Nov 1913.

Administrative / Biographical History

Winifred Adair-Roberts (fl.1910-1974) was brought up in Hampstead, the seventh child of a family of nine; all girls bar one. Her parents were Irish and her father co-owned a chemical works (Boke, Roberts) in Stratford. It moved to Walthamstow in 1974. Winifred was educated at private schools including, briefly, St. Felix, South Wold and Polam Hall (Durham). Winifred also attended a short course at the Gloucester Domestic Science College. She did voluntary work with the ‘Women’s Voluntary Reserve’ in the First World War but did no paid work as she seems to have suffered lifelong poor health. In an interview conducted by Professor Brian Harrison, c.1974, Winifred was thought to be well into her eighties. In the interview she described her family background. All seven sisters went to school (several boarding schools are specified) and to college. She also recalled selling Votes for Women standing in the gutter on Finchley Road, near John Barnes store and stewarding at large Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) meetings. She claimed to have brought hot dinners (cooked at home in Hampstead) to Mrs Pankhurst, hiding out in the WSPU office at Lincolns Inn. They were smuggled in under the noses of the police. Her eldest sister, Muriel, a doctor, was imprisoned as part of the suffrage protests. Ethel, a PE specialist, was apparently good at helping to hide Mrs Pankhurst, who apparently looked like ‘Dresden China’.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Miss Winifred Adair Roberts, through Dr Brian Harrison of Corpus Christi College. Precise date of acquisition unknown, but c.1974. Rediscovered during the move of the Library, 2002 among 'unsorted archival miscellany' and formally accessioned, July 2003.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library holds an oral history interview with Mrs Roberts (see 8SUF) and a handkerchief with suffragette signatures collected and embroidered by Mrs Roberts. The Women's Library holds the records of a number of militant, Women's Social & Political Union members, including Emily Wilding Davison (7EWD) and Louisa Garrett Anderson (7LGA). The records of the Women's Social & Political Union are held at The Museum of London. The Women's Library Printed Collections also holds a number of publications by the Women's Social & Political Union.