Archive of Margaret Reardon
The papers comprise correspondence, personal papers and ephemera; literary papers; photographs, slides and digital images; and miscellaneous items. Most of the papers were used in Margaret Reardon's autobiography.
- Creation: 1940-2015
0.6 Linear metres (6 physical shelfmarks; 5 digital shelfmarks)
Language of Materials
Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 602
Full range of shelfmarks:
MSS. Brit. Emp. 602, MSS. Digital 67-71
Collection ID (for staff)
CMD ID 11869
Papers, 1940-2015, of Margaret Reardon (b. 1920), relating to life as a colonial wife in Eritrea, Tanganyika, Bechuanaland, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Biographical / Historical
Biographical/Historical note written with reference to An Unexpected Journey.
Margaret Reardon neé Chapman was born on 16th February 1920 in Mayfair, London. She was educated at St Augustine's Primary School and the Central School in Cambridge from 1925 to 1937.
During World War II she joined the Civil Defence organisation in Cambridge. In 1942 she enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service and was attached to the Royal Signals Corp 'Y' Branch until 1945.
On 27 October 1945 she married Captain Patrick William Reardon of the Essex Regiment. He was shortly posted overseas as a Civil Affairs Officer in Eritrea and she joined him there in 1946 where they stayed until 1952. Their son Timothy was born in Asmara in May 1950.
After Eritrea Patrick joined the Colonial Service and was appointed to the District Administration in Tanganyika. Their daughter Catherine was born in Dar-Es-Salaam in November 1957.
In 1961 they were posted to the Bechaunaland Protectorate. After independence Patrick Reardon was appointed Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry (Mines) and Water Affairs. In 1968 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his service.
In 1973 Patrick Reardon was appointed Deputy Financial Secretary of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and was later promoted to Financial Secretary and Acting Governor. From 1979 he was Chief Secretary of the Turks and Caicos Islands and was Acting Governor in 1981 before being appointed Governor of the British Virgin Islands. He died suddenly of a heart attack in September 1981 before taking up the appointment.
Margaret returned to England and went to live in Cambridgeshire. She wrote a book about her life in the Colonies entitled An Unexpected Journey: Life in the Colonies at Empire's End: A Woman's Role. She died in 2018.
The arrangement generally reflects the original order of the collection, with some papers moved out of strict chronological grouping to reflect a more topical arrangement of the four series. These are grouped into correspondence, personal papers and ephemera; literary papers; photographs, slides and digital images; and miscellaneous items.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Margaret Reardon on 10th February 2016.
- Margaret Reardon, A Unexpected Journey: Life in the Colonies at Empire's End: A Woman's Role, (Catherine Armstrong: 2015)
- Catalogue of the archive of Margaret Reardon
- Finding aid prepared by Emily Chen
- Language of description
- Script of description