Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas message - Vote 1914

Continuing in our series of alternative advent postings from the Globe
A christmas message from December 25, 1914. p. 438 referred to the hardship of war - but recorded that joy comes of service. Interestingly it is international in scope making reference to men and women working for their 'several nations' and the need for a harvest and redemption for European nations. This theme is continued by a balanced discussion of working conditions for married women in Germany.
Recommended reading is a scholarly text by the Fabian Society on women workers in seven professions which is praised for its insistence upon the need for equal pay. The rights of women workers is also raised in the open column where a reader states that one outcome of the war has been to address a previous injustice to allow women to be employed as doctors but the writer would like to know whether these lady doctors would be considered suitable to earn the same salaries as men.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The wolves of fear are upon us - the Vote December 1914

Continuing in our series of suffragette advent postings from the Vote from 4th December 1914
this issue offers insight into wartime activity. During the war overtly political campaigning for the vote was suspended. There are  descriptions of aid for Belgian refugees, work in hospitals and food kitchens. However not all the articles are no-political  interestingly in 'Wednesdays at the suffrage club' there is an account of a speech by Mrs Tanner in which she raises the question of whether war work will help women get the vote after the war - stating that suffrage has never been granted as a reward for good conduct it was necessary for women to continue to safeguard their interests and protest against blunders- certainly in this issue there is significant coverage against measures to attempt to reimpose the contagious diseases act which would limit female freedom

The issue also has a very interesting article entitled Wolves from Pacifist Charlotte Despard which considers the nature of war and its links with  the militarisation of society. She refers to the war being upon them due to the blindness of peoples a state of affairs which could have been avoided. She also states that the ' very men who are acting as defenders' of the oppressed were a very short time ago due to fear of women's citizenship attempting 'to knock the fearlessness out of us' and in the long term calls upon women to engage with the peace making process to help form an international committee.

On a lighter note another article also discusses the creation of a girl scout movement in Mortimer which is seen as a viable alternative to the 'rococo' girl guides who have Victorian attitudes not in line with 'modern girls' and suffragettes.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Are we militant? The Vote December 1913

Continuing in the series of alternative advent calendars from the Womens Freedom League the Vote.
December, 24th 1913
This special christmas issue promises to 'amuse and enlighten.'
An interesting article on page 142 in which the writer discusses common confusion about the differences between the different women's suffrage organisations. She refers to the WFL as being militant in terms of tactics such as tax non payment . However it is  distinguished from other organisations by the fact that they are non-violent. Although she does not criticise the other organisations. She also makes the point that the original label of militant was made in about 1905 when women were labelled as such for holding protest meetings , something that it was quite commonplace for men to do and which would not have been considered out of the ordinary.

Other interesting features intended to amuse a one act play called the Shadow of the Sofa in which this piece of furniture is confiscated as a result of the women of the house not paying their taxes!

see more entries in our calendar 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Women are not 'spoilt children of the Law' The Vote December 1912

This statement was made in regards to a review of divorce laws  in December 21, 1912. edition of the Vote published by the Womens Freedom League. This article shows a scholarly analysis of the history of recent law reforms relating to marriage and divorce. It also focuses upon the economic inequalities suffered by women who found it more difficult to 'earn a subsistence wage'

Economic inequality is again a key issue. There is an article which analyses contemporary statistics on working women and women in employers in France.

There is also a very interesting article entitled drastic measures which considers whether it is necessary to take direct action. It argues that instead of drastic measures being taken against women protestors it is necessary to take action against those who make it necessary for them to rebel. Again the argument is presented in economic terms

finally on the book table of recommended new works-
with Woman and Tomorrow by Mr WL George which is praised for stating that the home is the enemy of the woman! These reviews are useful for discussing issues relating to feminism and the role of women.

catch up with our other entries on the blog.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The WFL suffragette hat - Vote december 23, 1911

Continuing in our alternative series from December 23, 1911
Interestingly the issue gives information on products which were being produced by canny manufacturers with the suffragette market in mind - the word of the song - women join hands which was suitable for meetings was available from Messrs Bach and co at special rates of discount, on page 105 there is a hat made by Louise in WFL colours in green felt with white quills and a gold buckle!

Christmas events arranged by various branches include 'at home' with recitations, whist drives at the London Branch which fostered an air of camaraderie and a xmas fair at the suffragette atelier where crafts were displayed. This has some rather intriguing remarks about the gift of a mangle and the unusual uses to which it might be put. But there was also a serious scholarly note to the journal.

The description of an evening event in honour of John Hampden gives accounts of speeches by Mrs Despard who expresses her opinions on why it is necessary for women to break the law by withholding their taxes. The issue also considers the attitude of individual cabinet ministers towards the suffrage cause.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tax resistance is the most logical and dignified action - The Vote December 1911

Continuing in our alternative advent series. from the Vote December 16th 1911.
This issue describes one of the key moves taken  by the League - the withholding of taxes. On Page 88 it gives an account of the Tax resistance League which passed a resolution declaring it the most dignified and logical form of protest against non-representation on the grounds that women could not influence or express an opinion on how the taxes were spent.

Also this week the League discussed the injustices of a man-made parliament legislating about women's work against their wishes. It referred to discussion of limiting women's work at the pit head on the grounds that it was too physically demanding without consulting the women workers themselves.
It also considered whether men should be admitted to the membership. on page 89. In an open letter the editor raises it as a means to address criticisms that suffragists are anti-men.

Finally on a lighter note.
in a Good Idea for christmas shopping page 88. one reader describes how the value of the Vote was in helping her on a 'voyage of discovery ' to local shops in Croydon. where among a group of women one as able to purchase some foot easers for 7s 6d!

See more of our entries in this series in the  blog.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Why Men protest - The Vote Dec 24, 1910

Continuing in the advent calendar series from December 24, 1910
Why men protest an account from a member of the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement which gives interesting insight into the reasons why some men supported or did not support the cause.
The issue also shows the wider interest that the WFL had in the cause of working women as in an article on page 105 it urges readers to consult an article on married working women. This rebuts the criticism that married wives are unintelligent or poor at managing their households. Instead it quotes extensively from findings relating to the working class poor where women are supporting households and managing money.

Another interesting feature is the international focus. The WFL showed an interest in the rights of women worlwide as this issue alone features a biographical sketch of an American campaigner, a discussion of the vote for women in India, an advert for the International Womens Franchise Club and a letter from a Russian Women's organisation.

see more of our entries in this series.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The cellar was full of police - The Vote December 1910

 Continuing in our series of alternative suffragette advent calendars.
December 3rd 1910 of the Vote has some interesting articles focussing upon the police treatment of suffragette activities and events in the run up to the general election.
In the account of the at Home at Caxton Hall p.63, the writer refers to a heavy police presence around Westminster, resulting in the  the cellar of the meeting hall being full of police - a fact which must have pleased 'criminals in other parts of London'.
On page 70 a male supporter refers to the slander, criticisms and violence he and his fellow comrades have faced  by politicians for supporting women's suffrage
The rest of the edition decribes in some details the run up to the election. It setts out dissatisfaction with Keir-Hardie's pledges and the strong desire for the date of change to be set for 1911.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

the Characteristic of the militant suffragette is self-sacrifice - The Vote 5th December 1909

 Continuing in our series of alternative suffragette advent calendars.
9th December 1909
This issue  has on page 75 a useful introduction to the early history of the Women's Freedom League which sets out the opinion of the members on its aims . On this is written the 'characteristic of the militant suffragette which distinguishes her from all others is the spirit of self-sacrifice'. The writer then gives her  perspective on why the WFL split  from the suffrage union created by Mrs Pankhurst. It also contains the interesting fact that at the time of the establishment funds equalled only £2 2s 1d.
Another insightful article is
'On why I want the vote'  which shows a range of opinions about the motivations of women suffragettes and the conflict between female domesticity and equality.  One members writes that home is 'still the happiest place for a woman' but she feels women should have the vote in order to 'not become an encumberance'. However, for others like Ethel Snowden the aims are much broader to fight for equal rights and pay for working women.
Interesting adverts in this issue- extracts from the forthcoming women's yuletide pageant as well on page 31 a recommendation for a biscuit that cures - well at least diabetes !

 Remember that you can also view our earlier entries  of alternative suffragette advent calendars.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The ideal Christmas present : the Vote blotter, December 23rd 1909

in the December 23rd 1909 edition of the Vote there is an advert for the ideal Christmas gift
the vote blotter  which is described as 'moderate in price' and 'inspiring in design'. This  sums up my sense of the movement as a whole. Even in this pre-Christmas bumper special of the focus is upon struggle as the editor begins with a column in which she writes

'To arms with thoughts of our tortured prisoners of war! This refers to the conditions suffered by women suffragettes in prison at this time, many of whom were suffering forced feeding

It then follows with the critique of chivalry and the notion of women as a protected sex- of fairy princesses by giving the example of a woman working as ‘scrubbers’ who after a full day’s work must do household chores until 2pm in the morning. WFL editors often focussed upon the rights of working women and they call in this instance for better pay and conditions to enable women to work in better conditions.
Indeed the author writes.
'there are no male votes clamouring for the scrubbing and washing tasks of the physically weaker sex  (p.1)

Other articles are also extremely intellectual covering the moral basis of enfranchisement
profiles of situation in Holloway prison. And a satire on cabinet ministers suffering from 'suffragititis 'which is commonly exhibited in shows of cowardice!

Recommended xmas gifts apart from the blotter – include:
Page 5 a tailored silk shirt for 10/9, A useful xmas tea service with 40 pieces for 15/9

Derry and tomes Russian peasant bazaar with lace and embroideries representative of Russian ideas which shoppers might find ‘distinctively quaint and interesting'

for more entries see we are not going to give away woolly waistcoats.

2nd December 1909: We are not going to give away patterns of woolly waistcoats for men ...

 In our first entry from the Vote and its coverage of women's suffrage

One very interesting column on how to increase circulation of the paper sets out its aims:
writing that 

"We are not going to give away patterns of woolly waistcoats for men  or hints on making ottomans out of egg-boxes’ (p.67)

The editor argues that the  ordinary women’s newspapers are based on false boundaries of what men think is women’s role – housekeeping, clothes, and cookery 

Instead the Vote  aims to offer stimulating writing on  a wider range of topics. Certainly in this issue the  largest article is coverage of the old Bailey trial of 2 suffragettes Mrs Chapin and Miss Neilans who were accused of tampering with a ballot box . In this  coverage the journalist strongly criticises the way in which the justice system works against  women and sentences them to 'torture' .For those with access to the Times digital archive report of the same case . There is a great contrast  between the passion of the Vote commentary and the unemotional language of the Times.Central Criminal Court, Nov. 24." Times [London, England] 25 Nov. 1909: 4. The Times Digital Archive.

However one problem the Vote faced was low circulation. In this issue the editor addresses  the conflict of needing to accept advertising in order to operate,  but states that we do need to buy these things and the suppliers are reputable!
Adverts appearing in this issue include  the Women’s Printing Society, Farrows Bank (advertising services for women) as well as  'how to grow in beauty using pomeroy skin food', p69 advice on removing the 'unsightly blemishes of facial hair' facial hair using the Pomeroy electrolysis

What Christmas activates were going on in the branches?
The issue describes the Pageant of women’s history at the Albert Hall which enacted the history of great women from history including saints, warriors and artists.

All this for one penny!

a different type of advent calendar - suffrage

This year for our advent special ALISS will focus on December issues of the Vote which was published by the Women's Freedom League from 1909-33. This is the advent of the new suffragists
The aim is, through examination of content and coverage from December issues,  to gain some insight into the concerns and interests of women suffrage campaigners during the early 20th century. This title was choosen as it is on open access via Google Newspapers.


The Women's Freedom League was formed in 1907 by former members of the Women's Social and Political Union who sought to create an activist organisation militating for change but without advocating violence.
The WFL favoured peaceful lawbreaking such as demonstration, disruption, and refusal to pay taxes and complete the census. They backed the continuation of the campaign for votes during the First World War. Archival papers are held at the Womens Library@LSE
The constitution can be viewed online via the British Library website. 
Its newspaper the Vote was first published in October 1909. It was a response to publications from other suffrage organisations,  notably the WSPU's Votes for Women. While it was intended to publicise the campaign It also had a wider concern for supporting women's rights in society in general
In the first edition Charlotte Despard wrote 
.".we hope and believe that through its pages the public will come to
understand what the Parliamentary Franchise means to us women. Now it
will be both a symbol of citizenship and the key to a door opening out on
such service to the community as we have never yet been allowed to render, " October 30th 1909
Further good sources on the history of the WFL include:
The Evolution of women’s political identities in the Womens Freedom League 1907-1930
 Claire Eustance. PhD thesis1993, University of York 

The women's suffrage movement : a reference guide, 1866-1928
Elizabeth Crawford. The author also has a website with a useful blog - Woman and her sphere