Held annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and across nations.
The Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds material for a range of women whose contribution in many spheres is worthy of mention. For this blog we will focus on Edith “Edie” Noble, née Davidson or Davidovitz (MS 381).
Born in Hull in 1910, she was one of nine brothers and sisters born to Annie and Hyman Davidovitz. She and her two sisters, Sophie and Min, married three London-born brothers, Ziggy, Charles and Bernard Noble. Edie and her husband Charles joined South London Liberal’s Synagogue in 1939, a year after they married.
Edith was heavily involved with the South London Liberal Synagogue, holding the position of Treasurer in the Women’s Society and as a member of their Council.
Passionate about promoting friendly relations among Jewish women, Edith became a founding member of the Streatham Group of the League of Jewish Women as its Vice-Chairman in 1953.
“From that time in 1953, she has worked untiringly with a will and dedication to make the name of L.J.W. respected in many spheres”. [MS381 A4136 1/4]A year later, as group representative, Edith was elected to the League’s National Council. She went on to become founder Chairman of the League’s Publicity Committee in 1957 and National Honorary Secretary in 1961. As the League’s first Extension Officer, Edith worked tirelessly to ensure the organisation was reaching Jewish women all over the country, opening 25 UK groups and achieving thousands of new members between 1967-72.
Edith held many positions in the League of Jewish Women, including President in 1973, as well as positions in the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) and the National Council of Women. This reflected her commitment towards raising the profile of these organisations, and strengthening connections between Jewish women nationally and internationally.
Using her links around the world, Edith succeeded in widening the communication net of these bodies, such as by setting up the 13th International Convention for ICJW in Bournemouth in 1984, which she chaired.
Keen for women to keep well-informed of social issues, Edith was the League representative on the Women’s Consultative Council, a government sponsored forum, from 1961. In 1969 this group became the Women’s National Commission, a body that still enables the government to obtain women’s thoughts on current issues.
Alongside these committee positions, Edith also completed welfare work, which included visiting patients on a Thursday morning at the Birchlands Jewish Hospital, serving tables at the South London Day Centre, and hosting and supporting Jewish girls who came to England from Morocco and Iran to work in the London Jewish Hospital.
The correspondence, working notebooks, papers and other documents relating to the Jewish Women’s organisations that Edith was involved in, provides a wealth of information on the work of the League of Jewish Women and International Council of Jewish Women from a committee member’s perspective.
From Edith’s final speech as President of League of Jewish Women:
“It has been said that if it be true that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, then eternal participation is the price of a good society. May the League never lack women to identify with us and participate in the Jewish contribution to the good society.” [MS381 A4136 1/4]For other blog posts we have completed on women, please click on the following links:
- Gladys Helen Rachel Montagu, Baroness Swaythling (MS 383)
- Sarah Laski (née Frankenstein)
- Unlocking an archival treasure trove
The University of Southampton will be hosting a number of events to mark international women’s day and details can be found at the following links:
University blog –
Events page –