Historical & Field Society

HISTORICAL & FIELD SOCIETY

Our speaker this month was Gay Hill and her topic was ‘West Midlands Struggle for the Vote’. She was

dressed as a ‘Suffragette’ sporting the movement’s colours of Purple, White and Green representing

Dignity, Purity and Hope. She pointed out that there were Suffragists and Suffragettes with the former

being relatively peaceful and the latter being more violent in the manner in which they conducted their

campaigns.

The demand for votes for women had been raised by Mary Wollstonecraft as early as 1792 during the radical

surge following the French Revolution. The 1832 Reform Act gave the vote to ‘male persons’ but the issue of

votes for women languished until the 1860s. By the early 1900s the Black Country had become the heartland

of Women’s Suffrage but despite public support for the cause, the governments of Gladstone and Asquith were

violently anti-women’s suffrage and all bills were defeated.

In 1908, Wolverhampton Wanderers won the cup-final at Crystal Palace and Suffragette leaflets were distributed at

all railway stations and a kite was flown over the ground. Stories of militancy, violent demonstrations, imprisonment

and force-feeding in prison are well documented. However, the local political struggles of the National Unions for

Women’s Suffrage are less well known even though they ultimately had more impact. Finally in 1918 after the

First World War, the vote was granted to all men at 21 and to women at 30. This was one year later than women

in Russia had obtained the vote as a result of the Russian Revolution. Full emancipation did not come until 1928.

Our next meeting at St Saviour’s Church Hall is on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 at 8.00pm with a presentation

entitled “The REP at War”. Visitors are most welcome at all our events – see hhfs.org.uk for details and contacts.

Jeff Cope
884820
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Last update: Friday 29 September 2017

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