We mark International Women’s Day this year by celebrating the life of Betty Tebbs, a great friend to the Library who died on 23 January 2017 at the age of 98.
From the age of 14, when she protested on discovering that a male colleague in the Radcliffe paper mill where she had started work earned more than she did for the same job, Betty’s passion for justice drove her forward. She became trade union organiser at the mill, where she worked for 17 years, and ensured that eventually women and men got paid the same for work of equal value.
Betty continued to campaign for women’s rights, and became President of the National Assembly of Women.
In 2010 she won the Elizabeth Gaskell award at Manchester Council’s Women’s Awards.
She joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) after her horror at the 1945 bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and worked for peace and against nuclear weapons from then right up until the present day. As Greater Manchester CND have said, ‘Many of you will recall Betty’s indomitable spirit, her absolute refusal to let frailty stop her joining protests and demonstrations even if it meant hiring a mobility scooter to do it’.
Betty was arrested at Faslane nuclear submarine base at the age of 89, as part of an anti-Trident protest. The police let her go – as she told it afterwards, with a straight face, ‘I think they were worried because I didn’t have my pills with me’.
The Library holds papers of Betty’s, including correspondence and reports from peace campaigns and from the National Assembly of Women, as well as an unpublished autobiography. Find out more here.
Here's Betty on her 97th birthday: