Spirited - Telling the story of the young women who fought for the vote...

Spirited is a brand new take on the suffrage story, focused on the girls and young women who fought for the vote 100 years ago.

Centring on Manchester as the birthplace of the suffrage movement, it features women from across the northwest, all of whom became activists in their teens or twenties.

Although they fought with courage, creativity and some cunning for the right to vote, they did not qualify to do so when the Representation of the People Act was finally passed in 1918.

Either they were too young or else they didn’t meet the property ownership qualification. One, cruelly, died the year after the Act was passed – but three years before she would have been old enough to cast a vote.

Spirited is funded by Spirit of 2012, which disburses funds from the National Lottery. Spirit funds projects that bring people together and that leave behind a social legacy of increased wellbeing at an individual level, as well as happier and more connected communities.

Spirit of 2012 wanted to mark 2018, the centenary of some women winning the right to vote, with a celebration of the young people that were pivotal to movement but whose names we might not know, and use their stories to inspire a new generation of young activists.

Spirited was therefore designed as a positive, youth-focused celebration of gender equality, and a provocation to today’s young people to embrace the opportunities on offer to them to be the change they want to see.

As well as a physical exhibition which ran at the Portico Library in central Manchester, Spirit commissioned this digital archive so that the stories of these remarkable young women aren’t lost again.

It is hoped that they will act as a provocation: think about what you want to be different; consider how you can challenge inequality; find your way to make positive change.

We thank:
BBC archives
Bishopsgate Institute
British Film Institute
British Library
Museum of London
Natalie Koffman
National Portrait Gallery and
The Women’s Library at LSE for the loan of the items in this exhibition.

This archive is funded by Spirit of 2012.

KS3 Teaching Resources

We have a 25 page teaching pack available to download in PDF - Download Teaching Resources

The following resources are designed according to the requirements of the KS3 history and English language curricula. This pack contains:

  • Glossary of key phrases, terms, organisations and people (for students’ reference)
  • Timeline of the women’s movement in context with activities
  • Suffrage movement in context: historical context for teachers and separate student activities
  • Deeds and words: historical context for teachers and separate student activities
  • Law and media: historical context for teachers and separate student activities
These resources have been created by HerArchivist for Spirit of 2012 using archive material about the early women’s movement in the UK.

Timeline

1792
Mary Wollstonecraft writes “A Vindication of Rights of Women” (a pamphlet on women’s rights).
1832
Mary Smith presents the first women’s suffrage petition to parliament arguing that women should not have to pay tax if they are not allowed to vote.
15 July 1858
Emmeline Goulden (later Pankhurst) was born in Moss Side. Soon after her birth the family moved to the outskirts of Salford, where her father had a small business and was active in local politics.
1867
Lily Maxwell is accidentally recorded on the electoral register (she owned both a business and property) and exercises her vote on 26 November 1867 at Chorlton Town Hall, accompanied by Lydia Becker of the Manchester Suffrage Society. Her right to vote is challenged in the courts and it is eventually ruled that women could not vote in British elections.
1870
Queen Victoria said: ‘The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad wicked folly of woman’s rights, with all its attendant horrors on which her poor sex is bent’.
1870
The Married Women Property Act is passed (allowing women to keep own property when they married).
1880
Primary school is made compulsory and opened for girls. Prior to this, children were educated at home or in their Sunday School at their local place of worship.
1897
Various local women's suffrage societies form the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, under the leadership of Millicent Fawcett. The NUWSS campaigned for votes for women through non-violent tactics. Its members were known as the suffragists.
1903
The Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) is formed in Emmeline Pankhurst’s Manchester home, to campaign for votes for women – it’s motto is Deeds Not Words. Its members became known as the suffragettes.
1907
The Women's Freedom League is formed by a breakaway group following a split in the WSPU after Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel come into conflict with other members of the WSPU's executive body who object to its militant and violent tactics.
1909
Suffragettes go on hunger strikes whilst in prison.
1911
Some women hide from the census, protesting that if they do not get the vote then they do not count as citizens.
1913
Suffragettes shatter the glass on 14 expensive paintings at Manchester Art Gallery.
1914
The First World War starts and the NUWSS, WSPU and Women’s Freedom League suspend their campaigning.
6 February 1918
The Equal Representation Act gives women who are over 30 and who own their own home (or whose husbands do), and all men over 21, the vote. Although this added 8.5 million women to the electoral register, it represented less than half of the adult women in the UK.
11 November 1918
The First World War ends.
1928
Men and women given equal voting rights at 21 years old.
1929
Women deemed legal “persons” in their own right

Spirited women to watch out for

Meet five of our Spirited women – look out for their stories as you make your way around the exhibition. Explore each woman's story below.

Annie Kenney

Elsie Duval

Ada Nield Chew

Lilian Lenton

Esther Roper

Deeds

There were individual acts of rebellion as well as mass demonstrations carried out in the name of female suffrage. Huge protest marches organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) gathered tens of thousands of women from across the country as participants, and many hundreds of thousands more as spectators. The imprisonment of suffragettes also led to another form of political protest: the hunger strike.
c.1905
Photo of Annie Kenney
16 October 1905
Manchester Guardian describes the arrest of Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst
1908
Flora Drummond on barge outside Westminster advertising Women's Sunday
21 June 1908
Women's Sunday
17 June 1911
Map of the Great Demonstration
17 June 1911
Official programme from the Great Demonstration
26 July 1913
NUWSS members arriving in London as part of the Great Pilgrimage
26 July 1913
Diary of the Great Pilgrimage
26 July 1913
Diary of the Great Pilgrimage
26 July 1913
Diary of the Great Pilgrimage
26 July 1913
Diary of the Great Pilgrimage
26 July 1913
Diary of the Great Pilgrimage
5 July 1909
Grace Roe's hunger striking medal
1 May 1913
Daily Sketch shows the method used for force-feeding suffragettes
1913
Olive Wharry on her release from Holloway Prison
c.1914
'Let them starve' billboard
1968
AUDIO: Eleanor Higginson and Grace Roe on joining the WSPU
1958
AUDIO: Winifred Starbuck discussing her campaign
c.1909
Grace Roe's embroidered suffragette brooch

Words

The fight for the vote was also conducted through a sustained writing campaign. Women’s suffrage gave birth to a lively publishing industry, with women writing, printing and selling their own suffrage publications to raise money and awareness for their cause. The WSPU’s official paper was called Votes for Women, the Women’s Freedom League’s was The Voteand the NUWSS had The Common Cause. Suffrage campaigners also wrote letters to the mainstream press to make their arguments for having the vote.
1894
Life and writings of Ada Nield Chew
1892
Printed pamphlet written by Millicent Fawcett
1892
Printed pamphlet written by Millicent Fawcett
1892
Printed pamphlet written by Millicent Fawcett
1892
Printed pamphlet written by Millicent Fawcett
1892
Printed pamphlet written by Millicent Fawcet
1892
Printed pamphlet written by Millicent Fawcett
1907
WSPU manifesto
1907
WSPU manifesto
1907
WSPU manifesto
c.1910
Photo of WSPU editorial department
c.1911
Photo of girls selling Votes for Women
c.1911
Propaganda poster – Is a Woman a Person?
c.1913
Propaganda poster – Torturing Women in Prison
c.1913
Anti-force feeding pamphlet
1978
AUDIO: Elizabeth Dean on working class women’s suffrage involvement
c.1908
Letter from Annie Kenney to Mary Ann Rawle
c.1908
Letter from Annie Kenney to Mary Ann Rawle
c.1908
Photo of Mary Ann Rawle
1907
Portcullis prison brooch given by Emmeline Pankhurst to Anne-Mary Rawle

Love

Many men fought alongside their girlfriends, wives, sisters, daughters and mothers for the right for them to vote, setting up male suffrage societies such as the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage. There were also women within the suffrage movement who were in romantic relationships with other women, and who similarly drew support and strength from their partners as the battle for equal rights waged on.
1920
Photo of Esther Roper and Eva Gore-Booth
c.1905
Photo of Esther Roper at work with other suffragists
28 April 1938
Photograph of the grave of Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper
1913
Elsie Duval's prison diaries
1912
Letter from Elsie Duval to her boyfriend Hugh Franklin
1912
Letter from Elsie Duval to her boyfriend Hugh Franklin
1912
Letter from Elsie Duval to her boyfriend Hugh Franklin
1912
Letter from Elsie Duval to her boyfriend Hugh Franklin
1 August 1912
HMP Holloway discharge note to Elsie Duval’s parent(s)
11 December 1911
Programme for Elsie Duval’s Complimentary Dinner
28 April 1913
Elsie Duval’s Notice for discharge under Temporary Discharge Act
28 September 1915
Photo portrait of Elsie Duval and Hugh Franklin on their wedding day
c.1912
Photo of Hugh Franklin

Law

Frustrated that peaceful protest was being ignored by the Government, a more militant form of suffragism developed during the 1910s. Women began to smash windows, start fires and plant bombs in an effort to draw attention to their cause. Many were imprisoned and new laws were passed to manage their protest efforts while in jail. Some were radicalised, while others became very uneasy about rising levels of violence – committed both by, and against, suffragettes.
c.1913
Photograph of Lilian Lenton
21 June 1913
Newspaper coverage of Lilian Lenton’s evasion of police
19 March 2018
Newspaper coverage of Lilian Lenton’s evasion of the police
22 October 1913
Newspaper coverage of Lilian Lenton’s evasion of the police
10 May 1913
Newspaper coverage of Lilian Lenton’s evasion of the police
25 April 1913
Copy of the ‘Cat and Mouse Bill’
25 April 2013
Copy of the ‘Cat and Mouse Bill’
25 April1913
Copy of the ‘Cat and Mouse Bill’
c.1910
Helen Craggs campaigning for Votes For Women
1912
Calendar of prisons for trial (including Helen Craggs)
1912
Calendar of prisons for trial (including Helen Craggs)
1912
Calendar of prisons for trial (including Helen Craggs)
25 April 1913
Photo of a burnt-out cricket pavilion
c.1910
Photo of Alison Neilans
1910
Book detailing the account of the trial of Alison Neilans
1910
Book detailing the account of the trial of Alison Neilans (2)
1961
AUDIO: Mary Richardson describes slashing the Rokeby Venus
10 March 1914
IMAGE: Photo of Mary Richardson, the suffragette 'Slasher' : 1914
26 July 1912
Notice to be bound over for £1,000, Helen Craggs

Media

The suffrage movement was expert at manipulating the media to spread its messages. It staged stunts, wrote letters, and published its own journals and magazines in order to put across the ‘Votes for Women’ message. It even boasted campaign songs and ‘propaganda’ films in its arsenal of materials for rallying support.
27 April 1906
Daily Mirror front page shows Annie Kenney, Teresa Billington Greig, and Grace Roe
21 October 1913
Newspaper clipping detailing Annie Kenney's appearance on a stretcher at a suffrage meeting
28 February 1913
Newspaper clipping of 'Woman's Suffrage' section of newspaper
1909
Photo of suffragettes about to be chained to railing
18 June 1910
Still from suffragette marching film
c.1913
Photograph of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh selling 'The Suffragette' newspaper
c.1910
Colour postcard - Comparisons are Odious
1913
Front cover of NUWSS pamphlet showing ‘tree’ of societies across UK
8 March 1912
Newspaper clippings of Christabel Pankhurst absconding

Make

As was fitting to their role in a society that still limited them to the roles of homemakers and mothers, or else consigned them to drudging work in manufacturing or domestic service, women made use of their skills in sewing and other crafts to come up with ingenious ways to promote their campaign. There were even suffrage tea sets – and tea! – to be put to use when gathering to discuss tactics.
28 May 1913
Newspaper coverage of Christabel Pankhurst absconding
11 March 1912
Newspaper coverage Christabel Pankhurst of absconding
18 May 1913
Newspaper coverage Christabel Pankhurst of absconding
6 August 1912
Newspaper coverage Christabel Pankhurst of absconding
7 April 1912
Newspaper coverage Christabel Pankhurst of absconding
1912
Elements of Elusive Cristabel card game
22 October 1909
Photo of Pank-A-Squith board game
c.1909
Cards, box and rules for 'Panko' game
c.1909
Cards, box and rules for 'Panko' game
c.1909
Cards, box and rules for 'Panko' game
c.1909
Box for 'Votes for Women' playing cards
c.1907
Photo of Oldham NUWSS shop
c.1909
Women's suffrage campaign badges produced by NUWSS/WSPU
c.1909
Women's suffrage campaign badges produced by NUWSS/WSPU
1913
Votes for Women - WSPU - rosette
c.1909
Strainer for 'Justice tea'

100 Banners Project

To commemorate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, the 100 Banners project commissioned communities across London to create their own suffrage banners. These honour the decorative and crafting skills used by the women who campaigned for the vote 100 years ago, and bring their fight for equality into the present with a new range of issues and asks.
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