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ISAACS, Lady Stella (1894-1971) marchioness of Reading and Baroness Swanborough

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 7SRE
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: ISAACS, Lady Stella (1894-1971) marchioness of Reading and Baroness Swanborough
Date(s): 1977-1990
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 0.5 A box (2 folders and 3 photographs)
Name of creator(s): Isaacs | Lady | Stella | 1894-1971 | nee Charnaud | marchioness of Reading and Baroness Swanborough | founder of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service
Smieton | Dame | Mary
Dunbar | Elsa
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Lady Stella Reading (1894-1971) was born Stella Charnaud in 1894 in Constantinople where her father worked for the British Foreign Service. She was educated in Europe before becoming a secretary. She was posted to India as the secretary of the new Viceroy's wife before becoming part of the Viceroy's secretariat in Delhi. There, she met John Isaacs, the Marquis of Reading whom she would marry after the death of his wife in 1931. He died in 1935, soon after their return to England. Lady Reading became increasingly involved in social work such as the Personal Service League (PSL) and was elected to a number of committees as well as becoming a magistrate. Her work with the PSL meant that it was her that the Home Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, approached to set up the Women's Voluntary Service for Air Raid Precautions in 1938. The organisation, which soon became known as the simply the Women's Voluntary Service or WRS, recruited and organised female volunteers before and during the war. After 1945, Lady Reading and the organisation continued their work and it was for this that she was created a Life Peer in Jul 1958, becoming the first woman to take her seat in the House of Lords as Baroness Swanborough. She died on 21 May 1971.


Scope and content/abstract:

The archive consists of two typescript memoirs concerning Lady Reading and 3 photographs.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

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

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

7SRE/1 was deposited with the Fawcett Library by Dame Mary Smieton, Feb 1977

7SRE/2 was deposited with the Fawcett Library by Mrs Elsa Dunbar in Jan 1990.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Papers of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service are held by the organisation. Her correspondence with Lord Cherwell (1933-43) is held in Oxford University's Nuffield College Library (ref. Cherwell papers) while that with Sir Samuel Hoare is in the Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives (ref. Templewood Papers).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Finding aid created by export from CALM v7.2.14 Archives Hub EAD2002. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
In compliance with ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description - 2nd Edition (1999); UNESCO Thesaurus, December 2001; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:

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