When people think about the Edwardian suffrage movement, Emmeline Pankhurst and the violent tactics of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) always come to mind. Not surprisingly, the ‘Suffragette’ film follows in this tradition and makes a good story.

While the work of the suffragettes remain memorable, there were many other suffrage groups which did equally important work towards getting the vote for women.

TWL/1999/32/3 National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’ poster

TWL/1999/32/3 National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’ poster

The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, founded in 1897, and led by Millicent Garret Fawcett, is one suffragist group that is always forgotten. They believed that the vote was to be won through constitutional methods: by lobbying, petitioning, and peaceful demonstrations; and this was how women’s suffrage was finally achieved in 1928. The suffrage campaign took 62 years and Millicent saw it through from the beginning to the end.

 

 

 

 

7JCC/O/01/177 Millicent Garrett Fawcett speaking at rally in Hyde Park

7JCC/O/01/177 Millicent Garrett Fawcett speaking at rally in Hyde Park

Another forgotten suffrage group is the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). This grouped formed in 1907 as a break-away group of the WSPU. They were protesting at the organisation’s undemocratic leadership. Charlotte Despard, Teresa Billington-Grieg, Edith How-Martyn, Dora Marsden and Helena Normanton and 70 others initially made up this group. Although the WFL was a militant organisation, it was non-violent and opposed the WSPU’s campaign of arson and vandalism. The banner image illustrates the WFL’s colours white, yellow and green and its motto ‘Dare to be Free’.

TWL/1998/05 Women’s Freedom League banner

TWL/1998/05 Women’s Freedom League banner

Sources held in LSE library:

*2NSW- National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies

*2WFL – Women’s Freedom League

*7MGF – Papers of Millicent Garrett Fawcett

Other suffrage groups include:

*2LSW – Fawcett Society and its Predecessors [notably the London Society for Women’s Suffrage]

*2ASL – Artists’ Suffrage League

*2AFL Actresses’ Franchise League

Also lots of personal papers of suffragettes and suffragists.

Use LSE’s main library catalogue ‘LibrarySearch‘ for printed material.

Also browse the TWL @ LSE book collection available on open access on the third floor of the Library.

Also use the TWL@LSE archive catalogue.

 

Gillian Murphy

About Gillian Murphy

Gillian Murphy is an Assistant Archivist in LSE Library.