Click on Your loving Myra to hear the audio recording created by Beth Moss. Myra was a member of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union. She served a sentence in Holloway prison in 1912 when she went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed. Beth drew upon the letters Myra wrote to her husband while she was in prison, she also interviewed Diana Dollery the grandaughter of Myra. Beth has provided an excellent insight into what life was life like for suffragettes in Holloway prison.
Myra’s Suffragette medal awarded for having been force fed in Holloway prison is now in the collections of the Melbourne Museum and is currently on display until 31st March 2017 as part of their Women’s History Month celebrations.
Abstract of the recent talk delivered by Dr Sharon Thompson in the current series of talks organised by the Friends of The Women’s Library
Edith Summerskill and the Married Women’s Association:
Backstage Revolutionaries of Family Law
Friends of the Women’s Library, 16thJanuary 2019
Dr Sharon Thompson
“If a wife has a right to the money she can save from her housekeeping allowance, she might let her husband go short of food while she builds up a banking account. She might serve him up corned beef instead of roast beef for dinner.”
These are the words of Goddard LJ in Blackwell v Blackwell 2 All ER 579, where it was held that Mrs Blackwell’s savings of one hundred pounds ten shillings in the Oxford and District Co-operative Society were the property of her husband, from whom Mrs Blackwell had been separated for two years. Protection of the husband’s roast beef might have been secured, but the consequences for Mrs Blackwell were severe. Writing in 1967, Labour MP Edith Summerskill described her as ‘helpless and hopeless, a victim of a legal system which still in the twentieth century treats the wife as a chattel of her husband’ (A Woman’s World, 1967, 145).
The Married Women’s Association (of which Edith Summerskill was a member and its first president) financed Mrs Blackwell’s unsuccessful appeal in 1943 and continued to campaign for legal reform of wives’ right to housekeeping money. Twenty years later, Edith Summerskill’s Married Women’s Property Bill gained Royal Assent, and provided that money given by a husband to his wife for housekeeping was to be held by husband and wife in equal shares.
There is no mention of the Married Women’s Property Act 1964 in contemporary Family Law textbooks because on the face of it, this is an ad hoc piece of legislation that has since been repealed in Scotland and is now virtually redundant in English law. However, the story behind this short piece of legislation arguably forms an important part of feminist discourse surrounding the value of care in the family home today.
Drawing on a range of archival material from the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics, my research exploresthe activism behind the 1964 Act and the arguments between members of the Married Women’s Association as to how married women’s work in the home should be valued. The response to this issue was so starkly divided that it resulted in the fragmentation of the Married Women’s Association and the resignation of Helena Normanton (who later established the Council of Married Women in 1952).
Significantly, the feminist debates surrounding the 1964 Act continue to divide opinion in the twenty-first century. Indeed, the concerns of the Married Women’s Association are arguably just as important today as they ever were.
This talk is based on research funded by the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA). Project updates are available on Twitter @MWA_research, or at the website www.marriedwomensassociation.co.uk.
Friends of the Women’s Library AGM 21 June 2018: Report from LSE Library
Friends of The Women’s Library Annual Report 2017-18
This year we have been enabled to honour our commitment to the financial support and diffusion of TWL collections in a substantial way. Within LSE Library’s planned new online resource, we have funded the digitisation of the Annual Reports of the Central National Society for Women’s Suffrage, of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage, and of the British Commonwealth League/Commonwealth Countries League, as well as the suffrage pamphlets and reports of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage Junior Council contained within the Cavendish-Bentinck collection. Material will be released online in tranches, and in November the first tranche will include the Annual Reports of the suffrage societies, and the publicationsVotes for Womenand Common Cause.
We have also, as in previous years, funded new acquisitions: the commemorative 50 pence coin issued to mark the centenary of (some) women’s enfranchisement; and an unusual souvenir napkin printed for the Emily Wilding Davison procession through London and on to her Morpeth burial in 1913, which includes Davison’s biographical details as well as practical arrangements for the day in question. LSE has just purchased a WSPU ‘Arrow’ brooch, and it is encouraging to see that the Library leadership values TWL as a repository for museum artefacts as well as archives, books and newsprint. (Our latest purchases will not be formally listed in our Accounts until next year’s April-to-April financial statement. This year’s April-to-April Accounts will be delivered at the AGM and subsequently posted on our website).
Going slightly beyond TWL, we have also supported a study day at LSE organised by Sue Donnelly in March. ‘Singularity and Solidarity’ focussed on the lives of LSE women, and concluded with a one-woman performance, Mrs Shaw Herself, illuminating the severely under-written contribution of the wife of George Bernard Shaw to the foundation and continuation of LSE, as well as her encouragement and support for women historians – who were also historians of women.
While placing material online clearly advances the project of publicising TWL’s holdings more widely, our programme of afternoon talks continues to open up the potential of collections somewhat ‘hidden from history’, particularly those concerning the interwar period: light was shed on the leisure pursuits of working-class girls (Katharine Milcoy, launching her book When the Girls Came Out to Play); women’s journalism (Catherine Clay, author of Time and Tide, the feminist and cultural politics of a modern magazine); and an attempt to criminalise lesbianism in 1921 (Caroline Derry’s presentation will be published in History Workshop Journal 86). This being the centenary year of women’s (partial) parliamentary franchise, the programme has also highlighted the suffrage campaign: Joan Huffman spoke about her new biography of Lady Frances Balfour; David Doughan offered subtle insights on the ‘non-militant vs. militant’ historical controversy; Jennifer Holmes enthralled us with a foretaste of her forthcoming biography of Ray Strachey; and Peter Barrett spoke on his suffragette ancestress, Alice Hawkins of Leicester.
We are most grateful to LSE for providing the accommodation and refreshments for this programme, and particularly thank Gillian Murphy, Curator for Equality and Citizenship, for ensuring that all runs smoothly on the day – and, indeed, for dealing ably and unflappably with every request for advice and information landing in her in-tray. Our talks provide an opportunity for Friends to meet, are of interest to many Library staff, and furnish a modest and steady income stream. They are good publicity for TWL, and have brought new recruits to the Friends. We will advertise them more widely in the coming year, and hope, with your help, to encourage more ‘friends of Friends’ to attend, and join us.
In a further initiative to widen the scope of research into TWL’s collections the Committee has decided to sponsor at least one essay prize for 3rdyear or MA dissertations by LSE students. We wish particularly to encourage work on interwar material. The project will be launched next term, and we thank Claudine Provencher of LSE Life; Imaobong Umoren, Assistant Professor, International History; Nicola Wright and Martin Reid, Director and Deputy Director of LSE Library; and Gillian Murphy (of course!), for their help in bringing this project to fruition.
As many of you will know, LSE has been marking this suffrage centenary year as ‘S18’, and has mounted a stimulating programme of talks and discussions on the topic of gender equality. LSE’s third and final exhibition this academic year, ‘At Last! Votes for Women’ naturally featured a rich array of TWL material. The first exhibition of the series, ‘Journeys to Independence: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh’ also included items from TWL archives of Maude Royden and Jill Craigie; and at the time of writing we learn that TWL holdings will form part of a forthcoming exhibition on peace movements since 1918. In all of this activity there is much work behind the scenes as well as in public, and we congratulate Gillian Murphy and Debbie Challis, the new Education and Outreach Officer, on their significant achievements in this significant year. Reports from both will be heard at our AGM.
We have recently learned that the archive catalogues of LSE are to be updated and merged so that there will now be one site where TWL and LSE collections can be searched online. As with the printed books catalogue, TWL holdings will have their own unique identifier and will not be confused with any other collections. Those members of the Friends who regret the decline in volunteering opportunities since the move from Aldgate may like to know that volunteers will be called for over the summer, and asked to help in testing the usability of the new catalogue. Tea and biscuits will be served! and we hope that a good number of you will want to lend a hand.
None of the activities reported above could be achieved without the help of many pairs of hands. For assistance and advice at every step, we are, as always, extremely grateful to Nicola Wright and Martin Reid; to Anna Towlson, Archives and Special Collections Manager; to Sue Donnelly, Archivist of LSE; and to Gillian Murphy and Debbie Challis. We most warmly thank Kate Steward and Helen Groves of Gender Studies for their practical help with AGM arrangements. As Chair of the Executive Committee, it is with reason that I have composed most of this Report using the first person plural. Using the singular now, I sincerely thank all the officers and members of the Committee for the constant stimulus of the meeting of minds which they offer, and for their unstinting work for TWL and for the Friends over the past 12 months.
On this occasion one Committee member must be singled out. Diana Dollery is standing down after 30 years of service, having been Chair, Treasurer and most recently Membership Secretary of the Friends. In all this time she has been a fount of wisdom, good sense and historical recollection, and an exemplar of energy and commitment. She fully deserves her retirement (though this is hardly a word that one can associate with Diana), and we will miss her more than we can say!
Anne Summers, for the Executive Committee, May 2018
Membership Report 2018
Numbers have increased slightly during the year at 219. Sadly each year we lose members through death and retirement when people may move away, or restrict their spending. Fortunately they have been replaced by new members.
In this Centenary year of at least some women getting the vote, I would hope that Friends might be talking to their friends. Why not point them towards our website where they can find a membership form, or use our email address friendsofthewomen’firstname.lastname@example.org to make enquiries ?
Diana Dollery Hon Membership Sec Friends of the Women’s Library
New Director of the School, Dame Minouche Shafik, started in September 2017. Focus on improving student satisfaction and performance in Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). A consultation on a new School strategy is underway.
LSE Library developments
- Collection Evaluation: As previously reported we have been undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of all of our archive and print collections, including TWL, in order to identify unique and distinctive collections and assess their value and importance so that we can prioritise work on preservation and storage, identify opportunities for digitisation and maximise their contributions to research, teaching and public engagement.
The project is now largely complete and we have a detailed picture of the collections and their strengths. We have divided the collections into 4 categories, from ‘Flagship’, which are the most important, through ‘Heritage’ to ‘Current Research and Teaching’ support, ending with ‘Lower Priority’. Flagship materials are collections of national or international significance. They are about events, people, movements, ideas or organisations which have had a recognised and lasting impact on society. They are of special significance, being central to the understanding and appreciation of their subject, and are extensive in relation to other collections not just in terms of the number of items they contain but also in relation to other collections on the same subject.
We have established that our Flagship collections are in the areas of:
- British political and economic history from mid-19thcentury onwards
- Internationalism from the 20thcentury onwards
- LGBT+ equality from the late 1950s onwards
- The history of LSE itself
- And of course Women’s equality from the late 19th onwards as a result of taking in
TWL collection in 2013
The evaluation of TWL collections confirmed that the majority of both the archive and printed collections are in the Flagship category, with the following areas being particularly strong:
- Women’s suffrage movement UK, from 1866 to 1928
- Broad-issue pressure groups for gender equality, including Fawcett Society, Rights of
Women, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations, Six Point Group, Status of
Women Committee, Women’s Liberation Movement
- Single issue campaigns for gender equality e.g. around equal pay and flexible working, ordination of women, the representation of women in the media, single mothers, prostitution and trafficking
- Prominent campaigners for gender equality e.g. Millicent Fawcett, Philippa Strachey,
Agnes Maude Royden, Helena Normanton, Angela Mason, Sheila Rowbotham
- Prominent women in politics and economics e.g. Eglantyne Jebb, Louisa Twining
- Pioneering citizenship groups for women e.g. Women’s University Settlement National Federation of Women’s Institutes
- Pioneering support/philanthropic groups aimed at women e.g. Girls Friendly Society,
Women’s emigration societies
- Education & Outreach Officer: Dr Debbie Challis joined the team in October 2017
- Fabiana Barticioti, project cataloguer, returned from maternity leave in August 2017 and we have been able to extend her contract until May 2020
- Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2018:
- LSE Library has been nominated in the category ‘Outstanding Library Team’ for our work on redeveloping the Ground and Lower Ground floors of the building and introducing LSE LIFE.
Women’s Library developments
Acquisitions – archives
We continue to actively develop the collections:
- Typescript by Edith Fewins describing a tour in the Midlands by a group of suffragettes
- 2 very rare suffrage objects, brought to our attention by Elizabeth Crawford.
- Printed souvenir napkin in memory of Emily Wilding Davison, purchased for the collection by the Friends
- WSPU BROOCH in the shape of a broad (convict) arrow – enamelled in purple, white and green within a silver surround, purchased for the collection by LSE Library
- Additions to existing collections:
- Fawcett Society
- Only Women Press
- Women’s Research and Resources Centre
- Diaries of Jennie Chappell, 1873-1903, detailing her work as a writer including her (successful) efforts to get work published.
- Women’s Liberation movement papers collected by Mandy Honeyman, including material on the Liaison Committee for Women’s Peace Groups and Maureen Colquhoun Action Committee
- Ephemera related to women’s peace campaigns collected by Jill Truman, including Greenham Common and Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Camp
- Friends also might also like to know about related acquisition to main suite of collections – papers of peace activist Pat Arrowsmith, deposited by CND as an addition to their archive.
Acquisitions – printed
Printed materials have continued to be added to the collections through purchase and donation. The excitement over the suffrage anniversary has led to a number of offers and new publications commemorating the anniversary, many of which have used TWL. Thanks to Diane Atkinson and Jill Liddington (long-time supporters and Friends) for copies of their latest works, Rise Up Women and Vanishing for the Vote.
The House of Commons Library also sent 10 books mainly relating to women’s ordination.
Thanks again to everyone who has and who continues to send materials. You can keep up with new acquisitions and newly catalogued collections by following the Library on Twitter.
Over 400 boxes of TWL material has been catalogued this year. Activity has focussed on accruing collections, cataloguing new additions and bringing them up-to-date.
The following all collections are now all completely catalogued and available through online catalogue (Thanks to Nick White for his dedicated work on these):
Archives of Gingerbread, London Association of University Women, Only Women Press, Women in Entertainment, papers of Sally Alexander (focussing on her involvement in the women’s liberation movement)
Work on following collections nearing completion and will be available online later this year
- British Federation of University Women
- Papers of Jill Craigie
- Fawcett Society archive. Catalogue for Executive Committee minutes available online, a further tranche of papers will be available by the end of July, the catalogue by the end of October 2018
- Work underway to merge The Women’s Library archives and museum catalogue with the Library’s main archives catalogue, to enable users to discover the Women’s Library archive and museum collections alongside our other archive collections
We are making good progress with the creation of a digital resource based on TWL suffrage collections. This focusses on journals, annual reports and pamphlets created by suffrage campaigners and campaign groups and while it is only a small proportion of the whole collection it a significant starting point and indication of what is possible. We are very grateful to the Friends for the contribution you have made to financing that project, specifically funding the digitisation of:
- Suffrage pamphlets from the Cavendish Bentinck collection
- Annual Reports of the British Commonwealth League/Commonwealth Countrie
- Annual reports of the Central National Society for Women’s Suffrage
- Annual Reports of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage
- Reports of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage Junior Council
- Annual reports of National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship
When it is ready the resource will enable free-text searching of the full text of the contents of the material and it will be released in November to mark the end of our year-long celebration of the centenary of the 1918 Act.
Using the collections
There continues to be strong use of the collections in the Reading Room
- From August 2017 to May 2018 there have been 1301 visits to consult TWL material (which is very similar to the number of visits for the same period last year (1317); and 2974 items were issued for consultation, an increase on 2736 for same period last year.
- Workshops for students
TWL material formed the basis of a number of sessions Gillian Murphy did with students from LSE and other HE institutions
- 3 teaching sessions with LSE students
- 14 teaching sessions with external students
- introductions to The Women’s Library
- workshops on women’s suffrage
- workshops on Women’s Liberation Movement
From the feedback we received it is clear that participants really value looking at original primary sources, making comments such as “I’m never going to look at a pdf again” and “I had my doubts about feminism but I think this was a turning point”
- Essay Prize
We are also very grateful for the funding you have allocated to create an essays prize for LSE students based on use of the Women’s Library’s 20thcentury collections. This follows consultation with Dr Claudine Provencher, the Head of LSE LIFE, the School’s centre for life and study skills support for students, and will be awarded for the first time next academic year.
In this anniversary year we have of course mounted a major exhibition commemorating the centenary of the 1918 Act:
‘At Last! Votes for Women’ opened in April and will be on display until September when it will be transferring to the Museum of Cambridge for a further month. It is based on archives and objects from the Women’s Library collection – including three banners, sashes, badges and much more and shows the campaign methods of the three main groups for women’s suffrage, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). It concentrates on the last (and often bitter) years of the long campaign of the struggle for women’s right to vote from 1908 – 1914, with the inclusion of prison diaries and leaflets detailing tactics, such as ‘rushing’ the House of Commons, and concludes with 1918 act, giving an insight into Millicent Fawcett’s tactful diplomacy and her drive to get at least a limited franchise in 1918. So far there have been 3821visitors. Please do visit if you have not already done so! These samples from the comments made in the visitors’ book give an insight into the way people are engaging with the display and show how positively it is being received:
*An extremely informative and creative display of documents and personal items enjoyed by two generations.
*The enamel badges are beautiful and poignant. The letters show the thoughts of the women in ways often not seen. An excellent, balanced exhibition showing the suffragists, and Millicent Fawcett mattered too. There is usually too much emphasis on the suffragettes. Well done!
*The account of being force-fed is harrowing and a remarkably preserved item. The visual impact of so many beautifully-designed badges is also great.
*It’s amazing how much can be done in a small space. Excellent!
*A really well-coordinated set of historical documents and very clear narrative. My children and I really enjoyed reading the letters of Millicent Fawcett. It brings this important message and period of history to life for all of us.
*Absolutely wonderful. So interesting – it’s brilliant that LSE is looking after these significant artifacts.
Material from the collections has also featured in some of the other exhibition we have produced this year, specifically:
- Journeys to Independence(Michaelmas Term 2017): an exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the independence of India from British rule and the birth of West and East Pakistan.
- Who Cares? Women, Care and Welfare(Lent Term 2018): an exhibition exploring women’s roles as providers of social care and welfare, organised as part of LSE’s Beveridge 2.0 Festival in Lent Term this year
There has been exceptional demand for loans from the collections this year, with so much focus on women’s suffrage and women’s equality. Over 90 items are on loan to 11 separate institutions, including Tate St Ives, the Houses of Parliament, V&A, Spirit of 2012, Photographers Gallery, and the Frankfurt Historical Museum.
Google Arts and Culture
We also have been a major contributor to a Google Arts and Culture project on the theme of women’s equality. We provided images from our collection and an editorial piece by Gillian exploring two centuries of independent feminist press. We worked with the Mayor of London’s office to produce the site and as part of the partnership have created an LSE Library platform on the Google Arts & Culture site featuring over 650 images from the collection along with 8 stories based on The Women’s Library suffrage collection, all but one written by Gillian Murphy. These are on:
- Mary Lowndes banners
- Women’s suffrage pilgrimage
- Elsie Duval and Hugh Franklin
- Emily Wilding Davison
- Vera Jack Holme
- Sexual revolutionaries of the suffrage movement
- 1866 suffrage petition
- Rosa May Billinghurst
In addition to Education and Outreach projects, the collection has been used in a number of other activities based around the 1918 anniversary:
- Gillian Wearing statue of Millicent Fawcett – GW used collection extensively in her research for this and some images from the collection feature on the plinth
- Artichoke Processions – we advised on this, and images and replicas of TWL suffrage banners featured in BBC coverage
- Royal Mail Commemorative Stamps – drew on images in our collections
Mayor of London’s Make A Stand installation which was exhibited in Trafalgar Square on 6 February 2018 included many of the images from TWL collection.
Talks/papers/articles re TWL collection
Library staff have also continued to use their expertise and knowledge of the collection to give talks and contribute to the literature:
- Gillian Murphy gave a talk on the TWL suffrage banners at Birkbeck’s Arts Week on 15 May.
- Gillian was also guest editor of a special suffrage edition of the Social History in Museums journal.
- Fabiana Barticioti spoke on the Movement for the Ordination of Women collection at event on 15 June 2018 at celebrating the role that women have played in the life and work of the Cathedral throughout its history.
Looking forward to coming year
Publishing digital resource based on TWL suffrage collections, launch in November 2018
- Publishing digital resource based on TWL suffrage collections, launch in November 2018
- Active collecting, focussing initially on pamphlets (digital) and ephemera which evidence current campaigns for women’s rights and equality
- Focus in 1919 on women in the professions, marking 100 anniversary of Sex Disqualification Removal Act. In particular:
- exhibition based on TWL collections in Gallery space in summer term and
vacation,form the basis of our public programme
- host Women’s History Network conference on this theme in early September
LSE Suffrage 18: mid-term public engagement report
21 June 2018
This is a collection of figures relating to the Suffrage 18 programme organised by LSE Library. The events, group visits and collaborative activities listed are only those part of LSE Suffrage 18, visits to At Last! Votes for Women exhibition or connected to the centenary anniversaries, i.e. not listed are general introductions to the Women’s Library.
Hard to position the demographic data against other activities such as the Beveridge festival or other events run by the library as I’ve not processed those yet. Also, data wasn’t collected for all events – there’s no demographic breakdown for the Rachel Kolsky, Dianne Atkinson, Ann Oakley, Suffragette Gaming and Asunder screening events.
Events and People
17 Public Events: 1038 people
1 internal event: 27 people
3 Sector Events: 74
1 Private View of Exhibition: 50 people
3 external public events with active participation by LSE Library staff: 312 people (Museum of London, Tower of London, Kings College London)
Top ten for audience numbers:
- Helen Pankhurst, Deeds not Words, 9 February 2018 (170)
- Jane Robinson, Hearts and Minds, 11 January 2018 (150)
- Rachel Kolsky, Women’s London, 25 January 2018 (135)
- Dianne Atkinson, Rise up Women!, 12 February 2018 (133)
- Ann Oakley, Women, peace and welfare, 27 March 2018 (65)
- Elizabeth Crawford, Who were the suffrage artists?, 23 March 2018 (63)
- Sumita Mukherjee, Indian Suffragettes, 22 May 2018 (55)
- We Are Here panel, 14 March 2018 (52)
- June Purvis, Christabel Pankhurst, 16 February 2018 (48)
- 10.Kat Banyard, Pimp State, 10 May 2018 (41)
Most diverse audiences:
- We are here panel, 14 March 2018 (52)
- Sumita Mukherjee, Indian Suffragettes, 22 May 2018 (55)
- Helen Pankhurst, Deeds not Words, 9 February 2018 (170) Youngest audience:
- We are here panel, 14 March 2018 (52)
- Suffragette Gaming, 16 May 2018 (32)
- Pimp State, 10 May 2018 (41)
lecture / talk by external speaker, book talk with external speakers, screening with external speakers, show and tell with objects and library staff, hands on workshops.
External programmes involved in:
Women’s History Month, Museums at Night (Culture 24), London History Day (Historic England)
Broadcast Media Highlights:
Processions event 10 June 2018:
- Promotions (social media, news items, adverts) heavily used and credited LSE Library images. The replica banners featured in BBC’s Britain celebrates live: 100 years of Women’s Votes
- Curator supported organisers with guidance on history and collections.
BBC season ‘Hear Her’featured images and objects from collections - curator worked closely with BBC:
- BBC Parliament documentary Suffragette Allies – collection items feature. LSE Library included in credits.
- BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour 14 Jan 2018: feature on Millicent Garrett Fawcett included letters from LSE collections
- BBC local radio used suffrage oral histories and images from the collection.
- BBC Breakfast featured NUWSS badges and the Women’s Library collection was mentioned on 6 February.
- BBC online articles reference and use images of collections
- BBC celebrates live: 100 years of votes for women – coverage of Processions. Featured replica banners in film clips along with images and objects from LSE Library
- Antiques Roadshow – Emily Wilding Davison ticket featured. LSE Library credited.
- Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley – Elsie Duval hunger strike medal featured. LSE Library credited.
- Emmeline Pankhurst: the Making of a Militant- Use of image collections. LSE Library credited.
Print Media Highlights:
- The Art Newspaper feature on 2018 exhibitions including LSE Library.
- Telegraph 6 Feb 2018 – interview with Helen Pankhurst filmed at LSE Library and features Women’s Library Uncovering the secrets of the suffragette archive
- We are Here art collective pop-up exhibition by BME artists in LSE Escape and panel discussion event gained a lot of coverage
- 11 Fresh Images That Sum Up Being A Modern British Woman
- We are here an exhibition by British women of colour
- Featured on London Live and Evening Standard
- The Stylist feminist event listing includes LSE Library exhibition .
- The Sunday Telegraph featured the banner collection.
- Images from The Women’s Library were used for Royal Mail Stamps, the coin presentation pack, postcards and Year Book. They are also doing a book on postcards.
Social Media Snap Shot
Engagement on social media has been strong with a wide network engaged with suffrage centenary activities and feminist organisations and heritage institutions: Big crowd here listening intently to @janerobinson00 on the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage 1913 #LSEsuffrage18
Thank you so much @LSELibrary for the fantastic talk and lively discussion from Dr Helen Pankhurst last night about 100 years of feminism and her new book: ‘Deeds Not Words’.
So pleased to have been able to attend #LSESuffrage18 tonight to hear Shami Chakrabarti, Baroness Hale & others. Reflections on the incomplete success of suffragettes 100 years ago, and the important work still required for gender equality, and wider socioeconomic justice today. – at London School Of Economics & Political Science
LSE Students Union Women Leaders of Tomorrow – participation in panel discussion.
On behalf of WLT’s Executive Committee, I’d like to thank you for attending our coffee morning as a panelist and for helping us approach this event in its early stages. We all agreed it was one of the most insightful and relevant coffee mornings we’ve hosted as a society, with very high engagement with the event’s attendees.
Many thanks @ProfJunePurvis & @LSELibrary for an illuminating talk about #suffragette Christabel Pankhurst. Learned a lot & it was also great to catch up with @teadevotee. Most excellent evening!
Stunning Women’s Freedom League items from the Women’s Library collection on show in the exhibition at @LSELibrary - including a 1911 Census Boycott badge I’d never seen before. Moving stuff. #LSESuffrage18 #vote100
At the launch of At Last @LSELibrary I found myself in awe of the Women’s Library collections – they are just incredible! Well done to those women who realised the historical significance of what they were doing. #lsesuffrage18 #Archive30 #favouritearchive
I love these Women’s Freedom League items on display @LSELibrary #WomensLibrary #AtLast especially the minutes of the first WFL meeting in 1907
Thank you so much @smukherjee_hist for the informative and eye opening presentation. I’m excited to add Indian Suffragettes: Female Identities and Transnational Networks to my 2018 reading list!
Wonderful event with @smukherjee_hist @LSEnews giving a preview of her book on I Indian suffragettes. Out on Thursday and I can’t wait to read it!
Waiting for @womensliblondon to open @LSE gives me a chance to admire scores of fabulous #suffrage #100banners created with the support of @Digidrama. Historically the traditionally feminine skill of stitching was supposed to keep us quiet & out of trouble – hah! #heartsandminds
So pleased that I have got around to visiting the At Last! exhibition @LSELibrary, do visit, it’s brilliant!
Another must-read is @LSELibrary’s online exhibit on the banners Mary Lowndes designed and created for the June 1908 NUWSS demonstration. Such a beautiful, vibrant collection of suffrage banners that continue to inspire women today, 110 years on: http://bit.ly/2xY5NQZ
We’ve worked with 22 fab cultural partners, including @MayorofLondon, @feministlibrary, @MuseumofLondon, @HistoricEngland, @BarbicanCentre, @LSELibrary, @1418NOW, @womenslibrary to pull together 65 online exhibits covering #feminism and #womensmovement activism past and present.
Merging The Women’s Library and LSE Archives catalogues
The project follows on from the Women’s Library Transfer Project and will allow users to discover the Women’s Library collections alongside those of the LSE Archives. The system will be the same as is used for the Women’s Library catalogue now (CalmView). Although there will be a single catalogue users will still be able to search just The Women’s Library collections, and The Women’s Library collections will have a new unique identifier applied to all records. The main aim is to improve the ease discovery for both The Women’s Library and LSE Archives, and to make searching more efficient. It will also make the workflows for staff more efficient as they will only have to search or catalogue in one interface as well. In the summer we’re planning to invite Friends of the Women’s Library (along with other users of the collections) to help us with some usability testing of the catalogue. Volunteers will be served tea and biscuits! We are able to make some changes to the ‘look and feel’ of the catalogue as part of this project,but this work will also help inform future developments. The merge should be completed in December 2018. While hiccups are not expected, backups of both versions of the catalogue will be retained. The team involved in this project include Fabi Barticioti (Archivist), Nigel Boeg (Library Systems and Application Analyst), Emma Wilson Shaw (Online Services and Systems Manager), Anna Towlson (Curation Team Manager) and Anna Grigson (Head of Content and Discovery).
Interviews and biographies of living feminists chosen for the British Library’s Sisterhood and After project. https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood/biographies <https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood/biographies
The Sisterhood and After project describes sixty-six UK feminists alive today who have spent their lives striving for political and social equality, who struggled for changes that would grant both women and men new freedoms.
The link describes women took up the challenge in an extraordinary period of British history – feminists like Lesley Abdela and other women at the forefront of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s and 80s. What they fought for, what they achieved and how they achieved it.
The Women’s Liberation Movement was formed of young women living in a period of rapid social and cultural change. Many were also active in civil rights, peace and new left movements and had the skills to spread their message in powerful and varied ways. In addition to the interviews, explore the themes to discover the background to the movement.
The Sisterhood and After website is part of a wider Leverhulme Trust funded project whose aim is to create an original and extensive oral history archive of the lives of feminist change-makers of the 1970s and ‘80s. The archive provides the resources for new studies of this important social movement and its legacy, capturing the voices of a unique generation before it is too late.
Here is the image of the badge purchased by the Friends. It is catalogued so can be viewed in the reading room (TWL.2016.5).
It was possibly made by a craftswoman who, on occasion, supplied goods for bazaars, rather than being a commission direct from the NUWSS.
Professor Richard Pankhurst OBE 1927 – 2017
Ethiopia bids farewell to its greatest friend - click below to learn more
More women commemorated in stained glass
There is an attractive, modern window in Guildford Cathedral, Surrey, celebrating the first 60 years of Soroptimist International, a women’s organisation dedicated to the advancement of the status of women and to promoting the human rights of women and children internationally, nationally and locally. The window was designed by Lawrence Lee.
The central Soroptimist symbol was designed by Anita Houts Thompson of the USA, in 1928. It seems partly derived from suffrage propaganda (see The Appeal of Womanhood poster designed by Louise Jacobs of the Suffrage Atalier, 1912, page 214, The Spectacle of Women by Lisa Tickner). Laurel leaves symbolise achievement and oak leaves, strength. Womanhood, liberated from restrictive tight-lacing, wears a Grecian gym-slip, ready for action (or eurythmics). She reaches up to accept responsibility for the greatest and highest good. Behind Womanhood radiates the New Dawn for Women’s Rights (see New Dawn Women by V. Irene Cockroft; for book order details email: email@example.com.
Suffragettes Mary Allen (Commandant of the pioneer First World War, Women’s Auxiliary Police Service) and ‘General’ Flora Drummond were early presidents of SI clubs in the SI Great Britain and Ireland federation. Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, was an honorary member of the SI Greater London club.
The presidential insignia made by suffrage art-enameller Ernestine Mills for the SI London Mayfair club, is displayed in the Victoria & Albert Museum jewellery collection, reference M.28:1, 2-2010. The historic chain on which names of presidents are engraved, is in store.
Photograph © V. Irene Cockroft
Women in stained glass at Crown Court Presbyterian Church
Just a short walk away from the LSE Library, in Covent Garden, is one of London’s best-kept-secret churches. The entrance door to Crown Court Church of Scotland, next to the Fortune Theatres in Russell Street, is worth seeking out. As the “Kirk of the Crown of Scotland”, it is the longest-established Presbyterian church south of the Scottish border, dating from 1711 (though the present building dates from 1909).
Funding for re-building was raised by the indomitable Lady Frances Balfour (incidentally president of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage among other commitments). The architect was her husband Eustace, who worked wonders with a severely restricted site. The church’s unique stained glass includes a window of women from the Bible, and a window depicting Lady Frances Balfour and her sister Lady Victoria Campbell.
Friends member Dr Joan Huffman of Macon, USA, will be speaking to us about her forthcoming biography of Lady Frances in September.
Photograph © David Cockroft
Crown Court Church address and contact details:
London WC2B 5EZ
Telephone: 020 7836 5643
© V. Irene Cockroft, 26 Feb 2017
CHRISTIAN AND JEWISH WOMEN IN BRITAIN, 1880 -1940
This book offers an entirely new contribution to the history of multiculturalism in Britain, 1880-1940. It shows how friendship and co-operation between Christian and Jewish women changed lives and, as the Second World War approached, actually saved them. The networks and relationships explored include the thousand-plus women from every district in Manchester who combined to send a letter of sympathy to the Frenchwoman at the heart of the Dreyfus Affair; the religious leagues for women’s suffrage who initiated the first interfaith campaigning movement in British history; the collaborations, often problematic, on refugee relief in the 1930s; the close ties between the founder of Liberal Judaism in Britain, and the wife of the leader of the Labour Party, between the wealthy leader of the Zionist women’s movement and a passionate socialist woman MP. A great variety of sources are thoughtfully interrogated, and concluding remarks address some of the social concerns of the present century.
Recent Visit to the Christina Broom Exhibition
On 28 September, Friends paid a group visit to the Museum of London at Docklands to see a remarkable exhibition of work by the pioneer female press photographer Christina Broom (1863-1939). Our visit included a fascinating lecture from the Curator, Anna Sparham, about Broom’s unusual career, and about the emergence of new techniques of producing and marketing photography at the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition was titled ‘Soldiers and Suffragettes’. Broom obtained remarkably close access to military quarters in London, and it was impossible not to be touched by the intimacy and directness of her group portraits of servicemen, especially those made during World War I. However, the suffrage photographs (the title notwithstanding, the constitutional movement also featured here) which were taken between 1908 and 1913 were inevitably the most moving and interesting for us. We saw many familiar and unfamiliar faces, pictured at indoor and outdoor meetings,in pageants, processions, drum and fife bands, wearing historical costume: these were all wonderfully vivid images, hitherto largely unseen. Now that the exhibition is closed, we can only recommend that Friends purchase the fully illustrated catalogue from the Museum of London as a Christmas present for themselves.
The Women’s National Memorial at York Minster.
Yes, cathedrals, and cathedral windows, can tell us a lot about women and their history.
At Bristol, as the notes below show us, the windows give a vivid, pictorial account of women’s civilian war work. In York Minster, by contrast, the Five Sisters window that fills the end of the minster’s north transept with its grisaille glass, invites us to ponder rather than read a story. The window forms a memorial to women who died in the First World War. The names of over 1,500 are recorded on the panels of a screen to the side-chapel of St Nicholas, also in the transept. The window is very ancient, dating from the mid-thirteenth century; the panels were installed ninety years ago. There are no images and little colour, only the greenish-grey tones of the glass and the gleam of polished and gilded oak. This almost abstract statement of loss and absence leaves a very powerful impression.
The creation of this memorial is intriguing, combining as it does touches of mysticism with clear-sighted planning. The initiative came from a woman named Helen Little, who lived in York. Searching for a way to bring into being the national memorial she longed to see raised to the women who had died, she conceived the idea of a restoration of the Five Sisters window in a dream, or vision, of her two little sisters, long dead, as they stood in the north transept. This vision came to her in the autumn of 1922 and continued to guide her interpretation of the memorial. The Dean and Chapter of York Minster gave their backing. The practical aspects of fundraising were then put in the hands of Mrs Almyra Gray, also of York, a JP and past president of the National Council of Women.
The restoration of the Five Sisters window formed part of a comprehensive post-war restoration of the minster’s glass. The sum required for this particular project was £3,000. In the first instance Mrs Gray proposed a direct approach to every woman in Yorkshire, who would be invited to donate and raise further funds. Princess Mary, the daughter of George V and Queen Mary, gave her patronage to the scheme and contributed £50. The appeal took off when women living in other parts of Britain and, further afield, in the British Dominions—the Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa—requested that they too might be allowed to donate to the fund. Within nine weeks of its launch in February 1923, the appeal had produced £3,555, enough to cover the restoration of the window and to permit the erection of a screen and memorial panels.
From May 1923, the window’s sixty-five panels were progressively removed to the minster’s workshops. There the grisaille glass of which they were largely formed was restored and re-leaded. (Grisaille was produced through painting panels of clear or white or silvery-grey glass with designs, often geometric or of foliage, in black or brown pigment. The pieces were re-fired, then held together with lead rods to form an intricate whole. The resulting effect is a pearly or grey tone.) Construction of the screen and twelve commemorative panels and collection of the names to be recorded were put in hand. On the panels, military ranks mingle with civilian organisations, and the names of British women with those of women from the Dominions. Well over half of the women had been active as nurses, medical and hospital workers and doctors. Women members of all three branches of the armed forces appear. Women munition workers are recorded in large numbers, accompanied by nearly fifty stewardesses who had served in the Mercantile Marine. A further panel lists women from seven small civilian organisations, some engaged in relief work.
Finally, on 24 June 1925, the restored window was unveiled by the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth, wife of George VI) and the screen dedicated. The memorial remembers the women who died, but also celebrates an initiative conceived and funded by women for other women.
There are many good reasons for visiting the Cathedrals of this country, but one might not think of them as places for exploring and celebrating modern women’s history. On a recent visit to Bristol, I realised how mistaken I had been. On entering the Cathedral, you are almost literally dazzled by gorgeous modern stained glass windows celebrating women’s and men’s war work.
Arnold Wathen Robinson (1888-1955), a local artist of great distinction, executed four windows commemorating civilian services in Bristol during World War II, when the city suffered severe bombardment. The window nearest the entrance is dedicated to the St John Ambulance and Nursing Services, showing a St John stretcher-bearer, a matron at her medicine cabinet and a nurse with a sick child. The next window is dedicated to the British Red Cross and the Fire Service, and includes a Red Cross stretcher-bearer and a nurse with trolley; both a firewoman and a fireman are shown for the Fire Service. Next to them is a depiction of the Wardens’ Service – a male air-raid warden with axe, stirrup pump and bell and a female warden with rattle – alongside two officers, male and female, of the Bristol Police. The fourth window shows on one side two Home Guardsmen, and on the other the Women’s Voluntary Service, illustrated by a WVS telephonist and a woman caring for a small girl clutching her teddy bear.
Walking round the Cathedral I saw a memorial to an earlier representative of the female tradition of voluntary work.
Mary Clifford (1842-1919) is a more recognizably modern figure than one might guess from the rather 18th-century headgear she is wearing in this relief portrait. One of a cohort of late 19th-century women who stood for election as Guardians of the Poor, she was also involved at an early stage with the National Union of Women Workers (which became the National Council of Women) and served a term as its President in 1904-5. A devout Christian, she is said to have ‘feared the secular spirit of the foreign Women’s Unions’, but this did not prevent her representing Britain at the International Council of Women in Berlin in 1904 and speaking on the contemporary-sounding topic of ‘The Unmarried Mother and her Child’. She was also a staunch Anglican, saying of a meeting concerning an NUWW conference in 1890: ‘the tone was on the whole, one felt, rather Churchy, and I think it’s very sweet of the Non. Cons. [sic] to endure with entire meekness the unconscious attitude of superiority that Church people take. At the same time, it seemed to be a proof that they recognised the value of our ways and our stand’.No surprise, perhaps, to find such a loyal churchwoman commemorated in the Cathedral where she must often have attended divine service.
But the third commemoration which I found on my visit was of a member of a distinguished family of Unitarians. Mary Carpenter (1807-77) was a passionate social and educational reformer, who pioneered special provision outside adult prisons for children and adolescents who fell foul of the law.
The ‘Red House’ where she offered residence and training to girls can still be visited in Central Bristol. Her interest in social reform in India is also mentioned on her memorial plaque. Clearly, her influence extended far beyond the circles in which she grew up; and her fellow-citizens in Bristol took pride in her achievements ‘in this City and Realm’.
In Search of Muriel Carew Hunt
In 1941 Newnham College, Cambridge received a bequest of funds to create a memorial in stained glass to ‘the noble work done by women in the Great War’. The bequest came in fulfilment of the will of Miss Muriel Ada Sneyd Carew Hunt, made in 1931. The money was eventually used to commission a series of four sculptures in glass and steel, representing the Four Seasons, from the distinguished sculptor, Geoffrey Clarke. His description of the works appears below. They are displayed in the glass corridor which connects Strachey and Pfeiffer Buildings in Newnham College.
Newnham College would like very much to know more about this benefactor. If you are able to help, please contact the College Archivist, Anne Thomson at Newnham College, Cambridge CB3 9DF or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Miss Carew Hunt was not an alumna of the College and according to her brother, her only surviving close relative, had no connection of any kind to Newnham. One hypothesis is that she knew of and shared the commitment of the College and its students to the work of Dr Elsie Inglis and the Scottish Women’s Hospital Units. The Units, who worked predominantly on the Eastern Front, were supported with funds and supplies throughout the War by the students of Newnham and Girton; and a number of them went to work in various capacities for the Units after completing their courses. The remainder of Miss Carew Hunt’s estate was bequeathed to two London hospitals.
The sculptures continue to make a powerful impact. They have perhaps added resonance because they are one of only two examples of twentieth century glass in Cambridge colleges; and because in these years we mark the centenary of the Great War.
The Four Seasons – an allegory
Geoffrey Clarke ARCA
Each season is represented by a plant-like form in various stages of development. The plant symbolises man. The horizontal represents the surface of the earth in each instance. The beginning is really in winter. The young shoot, on the right, is appearing.
Upward movement of young plant form. The root is undeveloped.
Plant opens revealing bloom. The sun is high. Root develops.
Plant physically past its prime. Seed drops. Identity of root almost complete.
Plant dies, Root life continues now fully developed, more obviously a cross, symbolising man’s soul.