TO BE PUBLISHED ON 6 MARCH 2014
As readers of this blog will know, since 2009 I have been involved in research on the suffrage boycott of the 1911 census. With Dr Jill Liddington, I worked to uncover the women who followed the call to boycott the census. We studied the circumstances of those who did – and those who did not – refuse to complete the census form and produced, first, a paper for the Women’s History Network Conference, held in Oxford in September 2009, and then an article ,‘Women do not count, neither shall they be counted’: Suffrage, Citizenship and the Battle for the 1911 Census‘ published in the History Workshop Journal in 2011.
It was intended to develop this research into a book, but I decided to pursue other projects – such as the setting up of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery and writing Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary – as well, of course, as running my bookselling business,’ Woman and Her Sphere’ – while Jill turned the census research into Vanishing for the Vote.
I continued, however, to be very interested in uncovering 1911 census boycotters – and wondering about their lives – and, at odd moments, wrote up my discoveries for the Woman and Her Sphere blog – and gave a paper, ‘No Vote No Census’ ,at the National Archives Conference on the 1911 census, held in the autumn of 2011. You can listen to it here.
Jill later asked me to help compile the extensive Gazetteer of Suffragettes/Suffragists that constitutes the end section of Vanishing for the Vote. This is based on the original research we carried out, supplemented by details of many additional boycotters that prolonged acquaintance with the digitized census has now uncovered.
I am sure that all who are interested in the Edwardian suffrage campaign will be delighted to read Vanishing for the Vote – which takes us right into the lives of the women – and their families – who were prepared to defy the census enumerator in order to highlight their lack of citizenship.
Vanishing for the vote recounts what happened on one night, Sunday 2 April, 1911, when the Liberal government demanded every household comply with its census requirements. Suffragette organisations urged women, all still voteless, to boycott this census.
Many did. Some wrote ‘Votes for Women’ boldly across their schedules. Others hid in darkened houses or, in the case of Emily Wilding Davison, in a cupboard within the Houses of Parliament.
Yet many did not. Even some suffragettes who might be expected to boycott decided to comply – and completed a perfectly accurate schedule. Why?
Vanishing for the vote explores the ‘battle for the census’ arguments that raged across Edwardian England in spring 1911. It investigates why some committed campaigners decided against civil disobedience tactics, instead opting to provide the government with accurate data for its health and welfare reforms.
This book plunges the reader into the turbulent world of Edwardian politics, so vividly recorded on census night 1911. Based on a wealth of brand-new documentary evidence, it offers compelling reading for history scholars and general readers alike.
Sumptuously produced, with 50 illustrations and an invaluable Gazetteer of suffrage campaigners.
To be published by Manchester University Press: