Celebrating the local voices of women’s suffrage

Helen Antrobus & Adam Jaffer from the People's History Museum with the Manchester suffragette banner
Ahead of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the trailblazing women who fought for women’s liberation in their local communities.

National Lottery funding is helping projects across the UK to explore the legacy of these groups and the ways that we can learn from them today.

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #PressForProgress. Get inspired by the women who were pressing for progress 100 years ago:

1. Manchester Suffragette banner

The People’s History Museum is working on a major five year project called Voting for change, 150 years of radical movements for democracy: 1819 – 1969.

In partnership with the Working Class Movement Library, they aim is to improve collections and promote key moments in democratic history, including 100 years since women won the vote.

2. The March of the Women – Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Surrey played a central role in the fight for women’s rights. From Emily Davison stepping out in front of the King’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby, to Emmeline Pankhurst being implicated in the bombing of David Lloyd George’s (then Chancellor) new house, some of the most memorable suffragette campaign moments were based in the county.

Now, Surrey County Council’s History Centre is exploring these compelling stories through a treasure trove of letters, photos, books and newspaper cuttings which will be brought together online for the first time accompanied by travelling exhibitions, school workshops and events.

3. East End suffragettes

The East London Federation of the Suffragettes was a radical group who split from the WSPU in 1914 and fought for working women’s rights throughout the First World War. The East End Women’s Museum led on the project which included Four Corners, Alternative Arts, and Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

The project tells the story of the East End suffragettes and they are now on the hunt for volunteers. Events will be held throughout the year.

4. Rebellious sounds in the South West

The Rebellious Sounds Archive (RSA) is creating the very first oral archive of women’s activism stories in the South West. Connecting contemporary accounts with the women’s suffrage campaign, the archive is currently on tour and sharing unheard voices across the region.

5. Forgotten Champions of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Leicestershire

Suffragette Alice Hawkins hit the headlines last month as a statue was unveiled in her honour in Leicester Market Place.

Year 7 and 8 pupils in Leicester will share the stories of other lesser-known Leicestershire suffragettes through a new film. The Forgotten Champions project will enable young people to take part in workshops at the Leicester Record Office and visit the Houses of Parliament.

6. Not Words – How sometimes words fail but art and image speak

Pomegranate Youth Theatre in Derbyshire is exploring the powerful images and symbolism used by the suffrage movement and female war artists, such as local Marjorie Hamilton.

The project will involve the whole community, from care homes to schools, in revealing the legacy of Derbyshire’s suffragettes, and creating a new play and artworks inspired by their research.

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