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Isabel Salt Collection

Items from the life of a traveller, campaigner, and suffragist

Isabel Salt was the daughter of Titus Salt Junior and Catherine Salt, and granddaughter of Sir Titus Salt. Like her forebears, she was a political and social campaigner on such issues as progressive education and the vote for women.

The Isabel Salt Collection contains evidence of this campaigning, as well as more personal items such as letters to her mother, items of childhood clothing, and even a tin box of acorns collected in the Kaiser's garden.

The collection

Isabel (1876-1968) was the youngest of the four children of Titus Salt Junior and Catherine Salt. You can read a brief biography of Isabel on our website.

We have many items from the whole of Isabel’s life, including notebooks (from the age of 13 3/4) and photographs and postcards from her travels in Europe; letters to and from her friends and her mother Catherine and brother Lawrence; newspaper cuttings of letters to the editor and reports on her speeches on various subjects including votes for women, pacifism, and education; some clothing; household receipts and recipe books; and a wide selection of photographs of family members and homes. And there's an intriguing tin of acorns gathered in the Kaiser's garden.

The collection was created by Isabel and kept by Rosemary Golege (Betty) Steel (1917-2016).  It was donated to the Saltaire Collection by Rosemary's daughter Penny Howden in November 2017.

View all items in the Isabel Salt Collection


'I suppose one ought really to keep a foreign journal for memoirs(?) of a foreign land', wrote Isabel 'aged 13 3/4' at the start of her first travel notebook from 1890. That contains details of her trip with her mother Catherine to France. We have 3 other notebooks covering trips to Italy in 1899, Germany (written in German) in about 1906 and to Cornwall in 1920. All have been transcribed (and translated).

The Collection also contains postcards, photographs, tickets souvenirs and other ephemera collected as part of these and other trips.

Altogether, the items give an insight into the impressions of a provincial English gentlewoman on travelling in Europe - from appreciating the beauty of an Alpine pass where 'The veiw [sic] from the top was just perfect' to being rather less impressed by Naples where she was obviously shocked by the poverty she saw.

And there's the curious tin of acorns containing a note written by Isabel stating they had been collected in the gardens of the Kaiser's palace when in exile in the Netherlands. (See our World Connections exhibition for more on this).

View items related to travel in the Isabel Salt Collection


Over several decades, Isabel was a steadfast campaigner on a range of progressive issues: concern for the welfare of the poor and disadvantaged; education; pacifism; international relations; and votes for women, although she clearly stated she was a suffragist, not a suffragette.

The Collection contains several sets of newscuttings saved by Isabel concerning her campaigning. There is a set of 'Reports of speeches' mainly related to women's suffrage and Isabel's role in the Women's Liberal Association. Other sets concern her full range of issues, and cover the period of the First World War when her pacifism became prominent as did her concern for the role of women in work and society with many men away at the war in Europe.

View items related to campaigning in the Isabel Salt Collection

Correspondence and documents

The Collection contains many items of correspondence involving the Salt family. There areletters to Isabel's mother Catherine from Isabel and from Titus Salt Junior when he was in the United States, possibly on business related to the Salt's investment in Dayton. There are exchanges involving Isabel from the 1890s to the 1950s; and somewhat sadly, three letters from Isabel's brother Lawrence concerning his will and arrangements after his death.

There are legal and financial papers. These include wills and related documents concerning Catherine Salt, Lawrence Salt and Isabel herself. Isabel's domestic life is reflected in receipts, notes and items relating to her disposals, auctions and household expenses, and wage and household account books.

Isabel continued her support for various causes later in life. We have receipts and other items concerning her donations between 1939 and 1959 to the South London Mission, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and the Saltaire Congregational Church (built by her grandfather Sir Titus Salt and now a Grade I listed building).

View correspondence and documents in the Isabel Salt Collection


We have many assorted garments, shoes and accessories for adults and children. The children's items were likely worn by Isabel and her brother Lawrence during the 1880s, including some that may be featured in studio photographs of the two children.

There are coats and dresses, gloves and scarves, jackets and shoes, and a large selection of lace and other fabrics.

View clothing items in the Isabel Salt Collection

You may also be interested in

2018.9.4.11: Isabel Salt in later life
Isabel's biography Read a brief biography of the life and times of Isabel

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Denys Salt in Shipley College, Saltaire in 1995
Denys Salt Collection Explore the items donated to the Collection by Isabel's nephew Denys

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E1b-009a: Albert Road Board School infant class, 1910
Education Explore the theme of education in the Collection, an important subject for Isabel and other members of the Salt family

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2018. Excerpt from The Women's Liberal Review 1918 featuring Isabel Salt
Politics Find items in the Collection concerning political issues, another important subject for Isabel

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