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Memorabilia - Equal Rights

February 12, 2018

"Recently rediscovered 100-year-old posters showing the struggle for votes for women are going on show for the first time. They pull no punches in their depiction of the strength of feeling among the women who fought for equal rights."

 

But this trove went ignored for more than a century: "Addressed simply to "the Librarian", a bundle wrapped in plain brown paper was delivered to Cambridge University Library sometime around 1910, and it took over 100 years for the contents of the parcel to be rediscovered, in 2016, preserved in their original wrapping. Underneath the faded paper was one of the largest surviving collections of suffrage posters from the early 20th Century. They had been sent by a leading figure of the suffrage movement, Marion Phillips, who became Labour MP for Sunderland in 1929.

 

"By the end of the 19th Century, women were allowed to study at [Cambridge] university but were not given full degrees at the end of their studies. When an 1897 vote proposed to change this, there was outrage. An effigy of a lady cyclist - a symbol of the new woman - was torn down and destroyed to the delight of the jeering crowds of male students.

"Posters also tried to appeal to working-class women, such as those working in textile factories or at home as seamstresses. Some pointed out that these women were not even able to vote on laws that concerned women's regulations and rights. This meant men were voting on what they believed to be best for women.

"But just to stand on a box in the marketplace, as many women did, provoked public fury, pelted with rotten vegetables and even police brutality. To be a female suffrage activist of any kind was a militant act."

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