Archive for category Collecting Suffrage

Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘Pank-A-Squith’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Pank-A-Squith

Pank-A-Squith

Pank-A-Squith was a board game, first advertised in Votes for Women, 22 October 1909.

The board is green and purple and the spiral track illustrates the difficulties encountered by Mrs Pankhurst and her supporters. It is played by throwing a die to move figures around the board – like Snakes and Ladders.
As issued the board was square but this particular board was altered at some point in order to set it within a circular wooden frame.

All too often the figures that were issued with the game – and were moved around the board – are missing.

In December 1909 Mary Blathwayt, a keen WSPU supporter from Bath, recorded in her diary that she had bought a game of Pank-A-Squith and in July 1910 that she and Annie Kenney played it together as they passed an anxious time while Annie’s sister, Jennie Kenney, was being operated on at Mary’s home, Eagle House, Batheaston.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WFL ‘Holloway’ Brooch

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Women's Freedom League 'Holloway' brooch

Women’s Freedom League ‘Holloway’ brooch

This is the award that was given by the Women’s Freedom League to its members who had been imprisoned. The brooch is in silver with the reverse engraved with the name of the prisoner and the date of arrest. The one in the picture was presented to Elsie Cummin upon her release from Holloway in July 1909.

Elsie Cummin had been born in 1877, one of the large family of Rev Joseph Cummin and his wife, Elizabeth. By 1901 the family had moved into Easebourne Vicarage, where Joseph Cummin was vicar. Mrs Cummin, who died in 1910, had been a suffrage supporter and gave the West Sussex branch of the Women’s Freedom League its velvet banner. Elsie Cummin was both honorary sec and honorary treasurer of the branch, which had been founded in 1908. She spoke at local WFL meetings and held WFL ‘At Homes’ at Easebourne Vicarage.

The Times, July 13, 1909

‘Four members of the Women’s Freedom League were charged on remand with obstruction. [Among] the defendants were ….Elsie Cummin, 32, Easebourne Vicarage, Midhurst….

Chief Inspector Rolfe said that on Friday afternoon he saw the defendants Hicks and Cummin standing by the doorway of the Prime Minister’s residence in Downing-street. They were carrying a roll of paper bearing the word ‘Petition’ and they said that they wished to present their petition personally to Mr Asquith. They were afterwards joined by the other two defendants. Meanwhile Miss Hicks had handed her petition personally to Mr Asquith when he alighted from a motor-car at his residence. At one time there were 300 people in Downing-street, and considerable obstruction was caused. After seeing Mr Asquith’s private secretary the witness told the defendants that Mr Asquith could tell them nothing further, but would send them an acknowledgment in due course. The defendants said that they wanted a date and time fixed for the reply; otherwise they would wait until they got it..

Police Constable 109A said that when Mr Asquith drove up one of the defendants said, ‘We have a petition, will you receive it?’. Mr Asquith asked her to hand it to his messenger, and Miss Hicks replied, ‘No, we want to hand it to you personally.’ Mr Asquith then said, ‘Very well, hand it to me,’ and he then received the petition from Miss Hicks.

[Defence counsel] submitted that the defendants did nothing but stand upon the pavement in a perfectly orderly manner.

The magistrate said that if the defendants would undertake that there should be no kind of disturbance of any description until the appeal in the somewhat similar case of Mrs Pankhurst had been decided he would adjourn the case sine die.

[Defence counsel] said that he could not give any undertaking on behalf of the defendants.

The defendants, on oath, denied that they caused any obstruction.

The magistrate imposed a fine of £3 in each case, with the alternative of three weeks’ imprisonment in the second division.’

Elsie Cummin and her three co-defendants refused to pay the fine and went to Holloway – and it was on her release that she was presented with the ‘Holloway’ brooch.

The reverse of Elsie Cummin's Holloway brooch

The reverse of Elsie Cummin’s Holloway brooch

Elsie continued her association with the WFL for at least two more years. On the night of the 1911 census she was at home with her father and one sister. However, the census enumerator recorded two other of the sisters, who were not present, as ‘Suffragettes wandering about all night’. Elsie Cummin reported that seven members of the branch had boycotted the census. Clearly the Cummin family took the question of women’s suffrage seriously.

The Women’s Freedom League had first presented these brooches as early as December 1908 when Muriel Matters and Mrs Emily Duval received theirs from Mrs Despard at a ceremony in St James’s Hall, Piccadilly. The Women’s Social and Political Union copied the idea and in April 1909 instituted a Sylvia Pankhurst-designed ‘Holloway’ brooch to reward their members who had been to prison. As so often, however, it is the WSPU’s insignia which has had the wider publicity.

Sarah Benett, sometime treasurer of the WFL, wearing her WFL 'Holloway' brooch

Sarah Benett, sometime treasurer of the WFL, photographed by Lena Connell wearing her WFL ‘Holloway’ brooch

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WSPU ‘Flag’ Brooch

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

WSPU flag badge

An enamelled WSPU brooch – in the shape of a purple, white and green flag.

Unusually, it’s possible to date this brooch pretty accurately. It is marked on the back with the maker’s name ‘Toye’, which was in usage between 1898 and 1909 when the passing of a new Companies’ Act meant that henceforward it was known as ‘Toye & Co. Toye produced much of the WSPU merchandise, including the hunger-strike medals. The company is still in business and re-produced the hunger-strike medals that you will able to see being worn in the film ‘Suffragette’.

The 31 December 1908 issue of Votes for Women lists all merchandise that the WSPU was selling at that time – and the flag design is not listed.

However we can see from the 14 May 1909 issue, dating from the time that the WSPU was about to launch its big fund-raising event – the Exhibition at Prince’s Skating Rink in Knightsbridge -, that the number of items the WSPU was selling had increased – and now included this brooch.

It is described as ‘Flag (words “Votes for Women”) 1/- each.’ I fear that over the last 108 years the brooch has rather risen in value. But I think we can be pretty certain that this design was manufactured no later than the Spring of 1909.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Christina Broom Photographs The Putney and Fulham WSPU Shop

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

 

Today’s image:

Putney WSPU shop photos 001

My visit yesterday to the exhibition of photographs by Christina Broom at the Museum of London (which I highly recommend – for details see here) reminded me of an intriguing page of photographs that passed through my hands a little while ago.

The key that unlocks the story behind the photographs is the postcard of the Putney and Fulham WSPU shop, positioned in the bottom right-hand corner. This photograph, taken by Mrs Broom, is shown in the exhibition and is discussed in detail by Diane Atkinson in Joannou & Purvis (eds), Women’s Suffrage Movement: feminist perspectives.

The photograph shows a young mother holding her baby, standing outside the shop, which opened at 905 Fulham Road in February 1910. The baby looks to be about 9 or 10 months old. I have identified the copy of Votes for Women that is displayed in the window as the issue for 9 September 1910. The shop windows are packed with WSPU propaganda items – much of which, especially the postcards – such as ones of Christabel Pankhurst, Lady Constance Lytton, Charlotte Marsh and Mary Gawthorpe – are readily recognisable. A poster advertises a meeting to be held by Lady Constance in the Queen’s Hall on 3 October 1910 and there are items of merchandise, such as WSPU scarves and stationery, together with the more homely items, such as eggs and jam that the local branch reported it was pleased to accept to sell for the Cause.

You can see into the shop (the door is open) and there in the background is the banner ‘Taxation Without Representation.is Tyranny’, just as described in the 18 February 1910 Votes for Women issue.

Adjacent on the sheet to the photograph of the shop is a loving shot of the same mother with her baby  – annotated ‘5 months’ – photographed, I would think, in a bedroom. Above that is the same woman and baby, photographed, I think, outside and annotated ‘4 months’. The other three photos are of the baby alone, photographed at 3, 4 and 5 months. Although the photos are glued to the page I’ve peered into their backs and think they were sent to the baby’s grandfather.

The sheet is captioned ‘Joan Morris’ in the same hand as the annotations of the baby’s age, Or, at least, I think it is ‘Joan Morris’. The last two letters of the surname read more like ‘ei’ or ‘el’ than ‘is’ – but there was no ‘Joan ‘born in the baby’s timeframe with a name such as ‘Morrel’, which might be a reading.

There was, however, a Joan Morris born in Fulham on 6 January 1910. In April 1911 she was living with her parents at 19 Arundel Mansions, Fulham Road. If my identification is correct, they are an interesting couple.

The baby’s father was Geoffrey Bright Morris, son of William Bright Morris, the artist (not to be confused with the other William Morris) and his first wife, who was a grand-daughter of Leigh Hunt and who may well have died at his birth.

Baby Joan’s mother was Helen Kathleen Morris (née Macleod), who in the 1901 census, was an actress boarding with William Bright Morris and his family. She would have been about 31 years old in 1910, which, again, accords with the apparent age of the woman standing outside the WSPU shop. The couple had married in January 1909; they had clearly known each other for a long time for William Bright Morris’s second wife was Helen’s aunt. Helen McLeod’s father was a paymaster in the Royal Navy. William Bright Morris died in 1912 – so could have been the grandfather to whom the snaps were sent.

I wish I had been able to find a mention of Helen Morris in the reports for the Putney & Fulham branch of the WSPU – but I must admit that I cannot. She does seem just the kind of person to have taken an interest in suffrage – but, with a young baby to care for, may not in 1910-1911 have been able to devote much of her time to it. However, as Diane mentions in her discussion of the photo, the woman – without coat or hat – and the baby, dressed in a light frock, do seem to have come out from the shop specifically to have been photographed.

In ‘Votes for Women’ the co-organiser of the branch and the shop is given as ‘Mrs H. Roberts’, although no further information about her activities is, as far as I can see from reading through successive copies, ever given and I have been able to find out nothing about her.

So, all in all, an interesting story to be deduced from what might at first glance have appeared to have been an anonymous sheet of photographs. Mrs Broom’s photograph is, of course, the prize. Photographs of suffrage shops are always delightful and this image – taken on an early autumn day more or less exactly 105 years ago – is both artfully arranged and very crisp and clear.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Christina Broom Photographs The 1911 Suffrage Coronation Procession

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Coronation Procession - NCS Banner

A close-up photograph by Mrs Albert Broom of a section of the 1911 suffrage Coronation Procession showing the tail-end of the ‘Pageant of Queens’.  Immediately behind, as decreed in the plan for the day, is the banner of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, one of only two images of it that I have ever seen.

The queens are, mainly, dressed in medieval costume and the photograph allows a clear image of faces, dresses and jewellery. At the head of the New Constitutional contingent can be seen a couple of figures in graduate dress – and I wonder if they are Alexandra and Gladys Wright – for more of whom see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary.

I am going this very day to visit the Museum of London Docklands exhibition ‘Suffragettes and Soldiers: The Photography of Christina Broom’. See here for details.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: The 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition

Today – 7 June 2016 – marks the 150th anniversary of the first petition presented in Parliament in support of an attempt to gain for women the parliamentary vote.

I have just attended an event sponsored by the Fawcett Society to celebrate this anniversary – held in the Speaker’s House in Parliament. At this event it was announced that efforts would be made to erect a statue to Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square. See also my post  published some time ago – Make Millicent Fawcett Visible – http://wp.me/p2AEiO-qD

Below is a short article I published earlier setting out the facts behind the petition.

 

 

First page of the 1866 women's suffrage petition

First page of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition

This is – I think – the most important document of the women’s suffrage campaign. It was the foundation for all that came after.

Back in the days when the world was young, there was no internet, and antiquarian booksellers – as well as the layman/woman book-buyer – had to search their quarry among the stacks of brick and mortar bookshops, my time, when not engaged in child care, was spent touring London and the market towns of southern England in search of the books and ephemera with which I and my customers might resurrect the women that were famously ‘hidden from history’.

These days have long passed away – now we need only sit at home and search internet book-selling sites,  trawling through the print-on-demand dross in the increasingly forlorn hope of finding the odd nugget of treasure. The corollary, of course, is that there are now precious few brick and mortar bookshops selling second-hand/antiquarian books.

In those olden days I even thought it occasionally worthwhile to take a tour down Portobello Road on a Saturday morning, not something I have  done  for a long time, now that Portobello’s landlords are handing the antiques arcades over to fashion chain stores. But that particular Saturday-morning visit was memorable because it was in a bookselling alcove in the warrens that stretch behind Portobello Road that I came across one of the most interesting finds of my bookselling career – a copy of the pamphlet edition of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition.

The petition itself comprised  a long scroll onto which were pasted the signatures of the (circa) 1500 women who, in the spring of 1866,  were prepared to put their names to a request (it was certainly not yet a demand) that women who met the requisite  property qualifications , as set out in the Reform bill then under discussion, should be able to cast a parliamentary vote alongside men. The petition had been organised by a group of women who formed themselves into a small informal committee – among their number being Barbara Bodichon, Bessie Rayner Parkes, Elizabeth Garrett, and Emily Davies.  John Stuart Mill, for whom they had campaigned when he had contested – and won – the Westminster parliamentary seat the previous year, had agreed to present the petition.

Emily Davies was the businesswoman of the group and it was she who decided that the names of those who had signed the petition should be printed in pamphlet form and sent to  the weekly papers so that, as she wrote on 18 July 1866 to Helen Taylor (Mill’s step-daughter), ‘ in case they take any notice, they make know what they are commenting on.’  Copies of the petition pamphlet were also sent to members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The copy of ‘my’ 1866 petition pamphlet is, as you see, addressed to Earl Cathcart –  the 3rd Earl, Alan Frederick Cathcart. I suspect he was not overly interested in the rights of women.

I did sell the pamphlet almost as soon as I found it but, before parting with it, had the sense to take a photocopy. That sounds nothing extraordinary, but back in those days photocopiers were not the casual desk accessory that they are today and in order to process the petition’s 38 pages I had to visit the machine in the local library. How glad I am that I bothered to do so. For having easy access to those 1499 names allowed me not only to build up the pattern of political and friendship networks supporting the suffrage campaign that lies at the heart of The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guidebut also provided a starting-point for researching The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey, in which the part each region, county and town played in the campaign is detailed.

Petition p 20-21

You can see, if your mind works along the same way as mine, what pleasure can be had in attempting to identify all these women. For instance, on this page – chosen at random:

Mrs Kenrick of 9 Dorset Square in 1873 was a member of the executive committee of the Ladies’ Association for the Education of Women for the Medical Association.

Gertrude King of 18 Carlton Hill East, was a member of the Kensington Society (a group of women who met and corresponded in order to discuss the position and prospects for women) and by 1874 was secretary of the Society for the Employment of Women.

Fanny and Jane King, 9 Eden Grove, Holloway, were the wife and daughter of John King, a pianoforte maker, who was one of the oldest acquaintances of William Lovett, the Chartist leader (one of King’s sons had ‘Lovett’ as a middle name). King was a long-standing member of Lovett’s National Association for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People. Artisan radicals such as the Kings were one of the groups contacted by the organisers of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition.

Notice that appeared in the Alexandria Magazine, May 1st, 1864. NB Isa Craig as member of the committee

Notice that appeared in the Alexandria Magazine, May 1st, 1864. NB Isa Craig as member of the committee

Isa Craig Knox of 14 Clyde Terrace, New Cross  – a close friend of Bessie Rayer Parkes – was assistant secretary of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, a founder of the Kensington Society and a leading member of the Society for the Employment of Women. For more on Isa Craig see her entry in my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

Fanny Aiken Kortright of  21 Eldon Road, Kensington, was a writer of sensational novels.  She must quite soon have regretted signing this petition, for in 1869 she printed for private circulation a pamphlet AGAINST the Woman’s Right movement, entitled Pro Aris et Focis, which won the approval of Queen Victoria and the sympathy of the then Prime Minister. Eliza and Harriet were her older sisters. Another, married, sister also signed the petition.

Miss Kunz (Miss Mina Kunz) of 19 Royal Circus, Edinburgh was in 1868 on the executive committee of the Edinburgh Ladies’ Educational Association and by 1874 was a member of the Edinburgh Ladies’ Debating Society.

Philippine Kyllman, Fallowfield, Manchester, was the wife of Max Kyllman, a wealthy young Manchester businessman interested in Co-operative matters.  Kyllmann provided capital for a mill established in Manchester by George Holyoake and Edward Owen Greening on a profit-sharing basis – though it quickly failed. For more about Philippine Kyllman see her entry in my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

As for Sarah Kersey of Aldeburgh you can find a little more about her in an earlier post I published about Aldeburgh and the petition.

And for many of the others on these two pages – as on all the others that comprise the petition – something can be discovered about the lives of most of the women who were sufficiently bold as to sign it.

As far as I know the only printed copy of the Petition held in a public collection is that which resides in the  Emily Davies Papers in the Girton Archive.

The Parliamentary Archives have now digitised the petion – using my ancient photocopy – see http://www.parliament.uk/documents/parliamentary-archives/1866SuffragePetitionNamesWebJune16.pdf > Many happy hours can now be sent searching to see who the women were who were prepared to put their name to this revolutionay document.

 

STOP PRESS: THE COPY THAT I SOLD HAS BEEN LENT TO THE ‘ENDLESS ENDEAVOURS’ EXHIBITION SHOWING  AT LSE – http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/exhibitions/home.aspx.

 

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Edith Downing’s Hunger Strike Medal

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands in the very many years that I have been dealing in suffrage-related books and ephemera.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Edith Downing's Hunger Strike Medal

Edith Downing’s Hunger Strike Medal

Edith Downing was a sculptor, living in Tite Street, Chelsea, who joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1908. Earlier, certainly as early as 1903 – if not before – she had been a member of the London society associated with the non-militant National Union of Suffrage Societies.

Edith Downing in her studio

Edith Downing in her studio

She put her artistic talent to the suffrage cause and in June 1910 she was one of the organisers of the WSPU/WFL’s spectacular ‘Prison to Citizenship’ Procession. As well as the hunger strike medal I also once, quite coincidentally, acquired  a small statuette that she had sold at a suffrage bazaar held to raise money for the WSPU.

Edith Downing was, however, equally prepared to take militant action and in March 1912 took part in the WSPU’s West-End window-smashing raid. As a result she was imprisoned and while in Holloway took part in the hunger-strike and was forcibly fed.

She was awarded the WSPU’s hunger strike medal on her release. For more details of Edith Downing’s involvement with the suffrage cause see her entry in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

Scenes of both the window-smashing raid and of forcible feeding are shown very effectively in the film ‘Suffragette’. And I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that a hunger strike medal plays a small part in the lead character’s conversion to the cause.

The hunger strike medal awarded to Edith’s sister, Caroline Lowder Downing, is now held in the Houses of Parliament collection –  see here. For details about the Suffragette Season of talks and tours (which will, I’m sure, include a chance to see Caroline Downing’s medal) that Parliament has launched to coincide with the release of ‘Suffragette’ see here.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement

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