Alys Pearsall Smith

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Alyssa Whitall Pearsall Smith in 1892
A poster for a School for Mothers

Alyssa 'Alys' Whitall Pearsall Smith (21 July 1867 – 22 January 1951) was the first wife of Bertrand Russell. She chaired the society that created an innovative school for mothers in 1907.

Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she was the daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith and Hannah Whitall Smith, prominent figures in the Holiness movement in America and the Higher Life movement in Great Britain. She was the sister of essayist and critic Logan Pearsall Smith and the cousin of Martha Carey Thomas.

Her family lived in England from 1873 to 1875 and then again from 1888 onward. In England the family came into contact with George Bernard Shaw, Henry James, and Bernard Berenson, who married her sister Mary.

Alys married Bertrand Russell on 13 December 1894 [1] in the Quaker Meeting House in St. Martin's Lane, London, England. They separated in 1911 and divorced in 1921.

She chaired the Italian Refugees' Relief Committee to help people fleeing Benito Mussolini's Italy.

She chaired the general committee of the St Pancras Mothers' and Infants' Society, which set up a School for Mothers (also known as Mothers' & Babies' Welcome) in Charlton Street, London, N.W. in 1907.[2] This centre provided a range of services aimed at reducing infant mortality, such as weighting babies, providing expectant and nursing mothers with meals, and medical and mothering advice.[3] The vice-chair was Adele Meyer who largely funded the enterprise.[4]

The Exterior of Mothers' & Babies' Welcome


  1. ^ "The Wedding of Bertrand Russell and Alys Pearsall Smith". National Portrait Gallery. 
  2. ^ Evelyn M. Bunting, Dora E. L. Bunting, Annie E. Barnes and Blanch Gardiner (1907). A School for Mothers. London: Horace Marshall & Son.
  3. ^ Davies, Sue (30 May 2014). "The St Pancras School for Mothers". Wellcome Library. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Ellen Ross (2007). Slum Travelers: Ladies and London Poverty, 1860-1920. University of California Press. pp. 53–56. ISBN 978-0-520-24905-9.