Emily Phipps and Avril Rolph

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Apart from Hendrefoelan House (former home of previous blog subject Amy Dillwyn), our closest neighbour in the Hendrefoelan Student Village is the Emily Phipps Building. It has been utilized by numerous departments over the years, but visitors are often unaware of the history and significance of the eponymous woman herself.

This blog explores her life and achievements and is also a tribute to Avril Rolph, an authority on Emily’s life. Avril was a founder member of Women’s Archive Wales, and a good friend to the Miners’ Library, and we were very sorry to hear of her passing earlier this year. Avril’s career as a librarian, archivist and researcher made her an authority on feminist history and a well-respected figure in her field. She became an honorary Vice President of the Women’s Archive Wales in 2011, a reflection of her pivotal role in the organisation.

Emily Frost Phipps was born in Devon in 1865. A career as an educator was marked from a young age when she became a pupil teacher in an  elementary infants school while still a student herself. Following her acceptance to Homerton Training College, Emily’s teaching career continued to flourish with increasing responsibilities and prestige. When she was appointed to Swansea’s Central Higher Grade School, the Board of Education inspectors praised it as one of the best schools in Wales, attributing its success largely to her.

Avril Rolph sourced an article in the South Wales Daily Post from 1897 which succinctly captured Emily’s impact on the school:

“Miss Phipps and her hardworking, able and conscientious staff continue to raise the character of the tone and instruction, which now reflect great credit upon all concerned.”

Teaching was not Emily’s only passion; she was also committed to political causes that furthered the rights of women. According to her biography, she joined the Women’s Freedom League in outrage at Lloyd George’s anti-suffrage behaviour at a Swansea meeting. As well as establishing a Swansea branch of the organisation, Emily gave speeches, participated in boycotts and supported numerous early feminist causes. As a member of the National Federation of Women Teachers – a pressure group within the National Union of Teachers – Emily campaigned for equal pay and became the president of the Swansea chapter in 1915. Eventually, due to a lack of support, she oversaw the separation of the NUFT as an independent union.

Emily’s life afterwards spans numerous roles and positions, all united by underlying feminist causes. She was the president of NUFT, editor of the journal Woman Teacher and, in 1925,  became a barrister and the standing counsel for the National Association of Women Teachers. In 2013, a blue plaque was placed on Orchard Street in Swansea to commemorate her achievements. Avril Rolph was the main speaker at the unveiling, a testament to her expertise.

Avril’s essay, ‘Definitely not a doormat: Emily Phipps, feminist, teacher and trade unionist’ appeared in Minerva:  The Swansea History Journal in 2014 and discussed key moments in Emily’s life. For instance, it reveals that she initially withdrew her application for the headteacher role in Swansea, seemingly only accepting again when her companion Clara Neal was offered a position. It also describes Emily’s census boycott in 1911, which was meant to demonstrate that if women were not considered citizens in terms of voting then they should not contribute to Government statistics. As well as providing more details about Emily’s bid to become an MP in 1918, it also contains quotations from newspaper articles and photographs of Emily throughout her life.

Such critical work has allowed Emily to be appreciated as an early feminist and, due to her relationship with Clare Neal, she is also occasionally included in histories of lesbian women. The Miners’ Library holds books about Emily (such as Deeds not Words by Hilda Kean) and books written by her: “A History of the National Union of Women Teachers“. For more information, please get in touch.

Sources

Rolph, Avril, ‘Definitely not a doorma: Emily Phipps, feminist, teacher and trade unionist’, Minerva (2014)

Kean, Hilda, ‘Emily Phipps’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2008)

The National Library of Wales holds a number of newspaper clippings, as part of Welsh Newspapers Online, detailing aspects of Emily’s time at Swansea.

Emily Phipps ac Avril Rolph

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Ar wahân i Dŷ Hendrefoilan, (tŷ Amy Dillwyn o blog blaenorol), ein cymydog agosaf ym Mhentref Myfyrwyr Hendrefoilan yw Adeilad Emily Phipps. Mae nifer o adrannau wedi defnyddio’r adeilad dros y blynyddoedd, ond nid yw rhan fwyaf o ymwelwyr yn ymwybodol o’r fenyw eu hun.

Mae’r blog yma yn edrych ar fywyd a chyflawniadau Emily a hefyd yn deyrnged i Avril Rolph, awdurdod allweddol ar y pwnc. Roedd Avril yn aelod sylfaenol o Archif Menywod Cymru ac yn ffrind da i Lyfrgell y Glowyr ac roeddwn yn drist i glywed am ei farwolaeth. Fe wnaeth gyrfa Avril – fel llyfrgellydd, archifydd ac ymchwilydd – gwneud hi awdurdod ar hanes ffeministaidd ac yn bwysig iawn yn y maes. Fe ddaeth hi’n Is-lywydd Anrhydeddus o Archif Menywod Cymru yn 2011, sy’n adlewyrchu ei chyfraniad enfawr yn y sefydliad.

Ganwyd Emily Frost Phipps yn Nyfnaint yn 1865. Roedd gyrfa mewn addysg yn amlwg o oes gynnar pan ddaeth hi’n athro disgybl mewn ysgol elfennol babanod pan oedd hi dal yn astudio. Ar ôl cael ei derbyn i Goleg Hyfforddi Homerton, wnaeth gyrfa addysg Emily cynyddu gyda mwy o gyfrifoldeb a phwysigrwydd. Pan ddaeth hi fel pennaeth i Ysgol Ganolog Gradd Uwch Abertawe, wnaeth yr arolygwyr o’r Bwrdd Addysg yn ei ganmol fel un o’r ysgolion gorau yng Nghymru, yn esbonio llawr o’r llwyddiant fel gwaith caled Emily.

Wnaeth Avril Rolph dod o hyd i erthygl yn South Wales Daily Post yn 1897 sydd yn dangos effaith Emily ar yr ysgol:

“Miss Phipps and her hardworking, able and conscientious staff continue to raise the character of the tone and instruction, which now reflect great credit upon all concerned.”

Heb law am ddysgu, roedd Emily hefyd yn angerddol am achosion gwleidyddol i ymwneud a hawliau menywod. Mae ei bywgraffiad yn sôn fe wnaeth hi ymuno a’r ‘Women’s Freedom League’ ar ôl gweld Lloyd George yn dangos ymddygiad sarhaus tuag at Swffragetiaid mewn cyfarfod yn Abertawe. Ar ôl sefydlu cangen yn Abertawe, fe wnaeth Emily roi areithiau, cymryd rhan mewn protestiadau a rhoi ei chefnogaeth i nifer o achosion menywod cynnar. Fel aelod o Undeb Gwladol Athrawon Benywaidd – grŵp pwysedd yn Undeb Gwladol Athrawon – fe wnaeth Emily ymgyrch am daliadau cyfartal a ddaeth hi arlywydd adran Abertawe yn 1915. Ymhen, oherwydd diffyg cefnogaeth, wnaeth hi oruchwylio’r undeb menywod yn gwahanu.

Mae gyrfa Emily ar ôl hyn yn cynnwys nifer o swyddi, wedi’i uno gan achosion ffeministaidd. Fe ddaeth hi’n Arlywydd y NUFT, golygydd cylchgrawn Woman Teacher a, yn 1925, bargyfreithiwr ar gyfer Cymdeithas Wladol Athrawon Benywaidd. Yn 2013, osodwyd plac glas ar Orchard Street yn Abertawe yn coffáu ei chyflawniadau. Avril oedd prif siaradwr ar gyfer y dadorchuddio, ac roedd hwn yn cymwys oherwydd ei ymchwil arbennig ar fywyd Emily.

Fe gyhoeddwyd traethawd Avril, ‘Definitely not a doormat: Emily Phipps, feminist, teacher and trade unionist’ yn Minerva: The Swansea History Journal yn 2014 ac mae’n trafod nifer o ddigwyddiadau allweddol. Er enghraifft, fe wnaeth Emily ymneilltua ei chais am y swydd pennaeth yn Abertawe, ac yn derbyn eto pan wnaethon nhw hefyd cynnig swydd i’w chydymaith Clara Neal. Mae’r erthygl hefyd yn disgrifio ei phrotest y cyfrifiad yn 1911, a oedd yn dangos i bobl ni dyle menywod cyfrannu at ystadegau’r llywodraeth os nod oedd y wladwriaeth yn gweld nhw fel dinasyddion. Ar wahân i ddarparu mwy o wybodaeth am gais Emily i ddoed yn aelod o’r senedd yn 1918, mae’r erthygl hefyd yn cynnwys dyfyniadau o erthyglau papur newydd a lluniau o Emily.

Mae gwaith beirniadol fel hwn yn gadel i Emily cael ei gwerthfawrogi del ffeminist cynnar ac, oherwydd ei pherthynas gyda Clare Neal, mae rhai hanesion lesbiaidd yn cynnwys hi. Mae Llyfrgell y Glowyr yn cadw llyfrau am Emily (fel Deeds not Words gan Hilda Kean) a llyfrau ganddi hi: “A History of the National Union of Women Teachers“. Am fwy o wybodaeth, cysylltwch â ni.

Ffynonellau

Rolph, Avril, ‘Definitely not a doorma: Emily Phipps, feminist, teacher and trade unionist’, Minerva (2014)

Kean, Hilda, ‘Emily Phipps’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2008)

Mae Llyfrgell Wladol Cymru yn cadw nifer o bapurau newyddion, fel rhan o Bapurau Newyddion Ar-lein, sy’n darparu manylion o fywyd Emily yn Abertawe.