This toolkit will develop over the coming months and will provide ideas and information support for local projects and will include:
· Where do I begin? An outline of the project and the local approach
· Tips on how to connect with existing organisations and projects
· Model letters to invite suggestions for a local nomination
· How to write a press release
· How to use social media
· How to contact and appear on community radio
· How to write your nomination
· Examples of who to look for with thumb nail personalities
· Working with local archives
· Sources of local archives and academic contacts
· A schools’ pack with tips to fit the curriculum
· How to develop local commemorations
· Examples of suffrage walks and how to prepare them
· Tips for building an exhibition
· Ideas for a format for a local concert or play
· How to apply to place a plaque or plant a tree in a park etc
· Ideas for the legacy project
· How to participate in civic life
· Be a councillor information
· Sources of volunteering information
* Finding your local pioneer
Have you ever looked at those pictures of women marching on Parliament and wondered where they all came from? Or perhaps you heard about the rally in 1913 when 50,000 suffragists came to London from all corners of the country. The chances are that there were many who campaigned for ‘votes for women’ in your town or village.
We will use this website to build up tips on how to find them.
* Ask an expert
Local archives may hold records of meetings of local suffrage groups. Some local history libraries also keep indexes to newspaper cuttings. Drop them a line or an email asking if you can come and talk to someone about who your local women activists were. We will be uploading a list of contacts to this site, but to start you off, click here
The National Archives provide details of how to research women's suffrage here
Is there a local Civic Society? Click here for a map. If there is a society near you, they might know of an expert who has already researched this topic.
* Find a relative
You won’t need to go back many generations to find someone who campaigned on suffrage issues locally – and who knows, you might find hidden treasures in someone’s attic.
Send a letter to your local newspaper asking if anyone remembers a suffrage campaigner in their family. Ask if they would like to work with the community to find out more about them and commemorate them in the area.
* Work with schools
One school in Buckinghamshire decided to write to all their parents letting them know that they will be developing a local suffrage to citizenship project and asking for local examples or if parents had relatives that they knew were involved in the suffrage movement or indeed were a suffragist. A similar exercise has been undertaken by schools searching for those in the First World War who were awarded the VC with the thought of acknowledging these men in ceremonies a century on. This could be a similar exercise for schools to undertake.
* Look around you
A stroll through the town or a visit to the town hall might help you spot a portrait or street name that can sometimes give you a clue. Look at the list of Mayors on display in your civic building. When was the first woman mayor? Who was she? Was she active in the suffrage campaign? Ask your mayor’s office if they or councillors may help find out more about them; contact the National Association of Civic Officers for your local contact. Email: email@example.com
* Have a read
Some reference books will help. Elizabeth Crawford is a good starting point and her book might be in your reference library. The title of her book is ‘The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928’. It includes 400 biographies and details of 800 organisations. Another book to look for is ‘The Women's Suffrage Movement: a regional survey’. This might just mention your town. Jill Liddington also has a couple of good books on women’s suffrage in the North of England.
1918 wasn’t just about winning the vote for women. We are also looking for examples of those suffrage pioneers who contributed to their local communities in other ways. Many suffrage campaigners were campaigning for other rights as well or were working locally to improve things.
Suffrage pioneers who were also councillors
More women could stand as local councillors after 1918. You might need to pop into the local reference library or town hall, district council offices, county hall or civic centre (they often have different names according to the type of council) to find out about councils in your area. Your local library or archives will have minute books and should be able to guide you.
London was much smaller in the early twentieth century and roughly covered the area we now call Inner London. There were many more councils, and the current borough of Southwark, for example, used to be three separate councils – Bermondsey, Camberwell and Southwark. Major towns and cities were administered by County Boroughs. These changed as urban populations grew. County Councils covered the rest of the country, with Urban or Rural district councils in all county areas. Women were able to stand as councillors on district councils earlier, but were not often elected to County Councils in the 1920’s – with the exception of the London County Council.
Suffrage pioneers were also ‘aldermen’, committee members and campaigners. Not all women who contributed to council life were elected. Some were appointed as Aldermen, and council committees like Education and Maternity and Child Welfare had to co-opt women.
Women were also elected as Poor Law Guardians. Poor Law boards eventually merged with County Councils around 1930. At that time there were known to be over 2,000 women who were Poor Law Guardians.
Dr Anne Logan, a Senior Lecturer in Social Science in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, has researched the work of early women JPs and found that many of them had also worked in the suffrage movement. Her doctoral thesis was called ‘Making Women Magistrates: Feminism, Citizenship & Justice in England & Wales 1920-1950’ and she also wrote 'Feminism and Criminal Justice: A Historical Perspective', which is an examination of the involvement of women in penal reform pressure groups and the relationships between these and the feminist movement in the period between 1920 and1970 (Palgrave 2008).
Women’s involvement with local committees grew during the war. They joined Food Control Committees, which had been organised to support troops and refugees. They carried on organising locally afterwards, with organisations like Women’s Institutes, Women Citizens Associations and the National Council of Women spreading.
Women used their new powers and their new organisations locally to lobby and campaign. They worked for better housing, contributing to design ideas for new estates. They worked for birth control and for equal employment rights.
* Legacy – recruit women volunteers now
As part of the legacy of local projects that nominate suffrage pioneers, we would like to see a new generation of women who are inspired by the stories to become active on councils and committees and in local organisations and campaigns.
Find out how to get involved locally by looking at posters in your library and council buildings, find a local Women’s Institute or a trade union , look up volunteering here and here or visit your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
* Making your project grow
Once you have identified the pioneers in your area who deserve to be celebrated, you will need a plan to make those celebrations happen in 2018. This is the year of the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, so you will be part of a national campaign and celebration.
* Find a friend or two to help.
We have asked all local councils to identify someone who will help coordinate events in your area as a ‘Member Champion’. The local ceremonial Mayor or Chair of Council may also be interested.
Ask local women’s organisations to nominate someone to join a planning group. Local schools may be interested in planning a project with you; one sixth form has apponted ‘ambassadors’ to promote the project and find a local suffrage pioneer. Another school has an after-school group: ‘Deeds not Words’ with students across the year groups. Their focus is on freedom and democracy with discussions and research on our democratic process. They started by watching the film ‘Suffragette’ and trips to Parliament and the Public Records office are planned, as well as local ‘suffragette walks’.
Younger students are being encouraged to carry out a Level 2 qualification focusing on the Suffragettes and to make an artefact or video or to write an essay, with older students mentoring them through the process. We will be producing a ‘schools pack’ of these and other ideas for next year.
Try and identify a date to work towards, when you can put on an event or hold an exhibition. Ask your library or council if they are willing to host an exhibition – perhaps they could take it in turn with other local organisations so that more people have the opportunity to have a look? There’s an example here
You could try putting together a short film, writing a play, holding a concert or publishing a booklet about the life of your pioneer. Perhaps there is a local drama group or a college whose students would be pleased to help.
Some communities have organised suffrage walks to visit places linked to local activism. Why not try to inspire the local press. Ask to meet a reporter or the editor and send them information about your plans.
Click here to help you find out more about using social media. Is there a local Facebook group who might be interested?
* Finding Finance
Many District and County Councillors have either a Ward Budget or Community Fund from which you could request a grant to help with the cost of commemorating a local suffrage pioneer.
Councils sometimes offer grants to be used within the local community. Check the website of your local council or visit the civic centre to find out who to contact.
Small grants can also be requested from local newspapers, local branches of large supermarket chains such as the Coop, Sainsburys and Waitrose (you may have used their green tokens in-store to choose between the current three choices of local causes to support!)
You can find out more information about who to approach in your area from a Government website by clicking here:
There are more ideas to be found here