Sandra Margolies on the significance of Betty Tate’s presence at the university club
The obituary of Shirley Williams (12 April) said that she was the first woman to chair the Oxford University Labour Club. However, this role had been held 16 years earlier by Betty Tate (née Morrison, 1912-2010). In reporting a meeting with Sir Stafford Cripps in the Oxford Union Hall in 1934, the Isis magazine reporter wrote: “The other unique moment in the evening was when the Chairman of the Labour Club, Miss Betty Morrison, stepped onto the dais and took her seat in the President’s chair … No woman has ever sat in it before and we offer a special Isis palm to her for making so welcome a break from tradition and for managing the meeting so well.”
A photograph of this historic occasion has pride of place in her three daughters’ homes, and it was used in the Guardian obituary (Other lives, 1 April 2010) and the one I wrote for St Hilda’s College Report and Chronicle, 2009-10.