New online Women’s Suffrage Movement collection from TNA published by Findmypast

The Findmypast Suffragette Collection consists of more than 3,000 Metropolitan Police and Home Office records from The National Archives, many of which are now available online to the public for the first time. It has been launched to mark the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, the act that gave property owning women and female graduates over the age of 30 the right to vote for the first time in British history.

This release marks the first phase of this ground-breaking collection and additional records will be added throughout 2018. To celebrate this historic anniversary, Findmypast is making these new records completely free to search and explore until International Women’s Day (March 8th). All UK and Irish census records, civil births, marriages and deaths will also be free until February 8th, allowing family historians to explore their connection to this pivotal period of British history.  

The collection brings together the stories of women from all classes who actively supported women’s suffrage, either by attending demonstrations and meetings or opting for militant “direct action”. Researchers can expect to find photographs, cabinet office papers, calendars of prisoners and Home Office papers on suffragette disturbances and prosecutions. The collection also includes an index of women arrested between 1906 and 1914, the official police watch list recording the details of over 1,300 militant suffragettes, reports of prison conditions, force-feeding, police surveillance and much more.

Victoria Iglikowski, Principal Records Specialist - Diverse Histories, at The National Archives, said: “The National Archives collection offers a fascinating insight into the campaign for women’s suffrage. Our records often highlight personal experiences of female and male campaigners in their own words. Many of the files provide a first-hand account of demonstrations, court cases, imprisonment and force feeding. What is revealed is a highly organised, national movement from the smallest villages to the biggest cities, crossing class lines, in the first step towards voting equality”.

 

The collection records cases of arson, window breaking, public disobedience, the destruction of post and the vandalism of artwork as well as protests targeting cabinet ministers and members of the Royal Family.

Key items included in the collection include:

●        Detailed reports on the confinement of Suffragettes at prisons in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Newcastle

●        Home Office case files on the prosecution of prominent suffragettes and lawsuits brought against their supporters

●        A detailed report on Emily Wilding Davison and her death after stepping in front of and being struck by King George V's horse Anmer at the 1913 Epsom Derby

●        Details of prominent male supporters including MPs, magistrates and other influential activists

●        A secret service file on Sylvia Pankhurst

●        Police files containing photographs and fingerprints

●        Postcard photographs of leading Suffragettes and male actors lampooning them in female costume

●        Government considerations of potential future targets including lighthouses, polling booths and Royal Parks

●        An original address to Queen Victoria, mounted on silk

 

To find out more about the collection, visit the Findmypast website

 

This and other useful collections for tracing your women ancestors will be featured in the SoG's forthcoming study afternoon on Saturday Feb 3rd at 2pm. "Tracing Your Female Ancestors and Suffragettes"

Further information and booking details can be found on the Society's website    

 

An SoG tour of the Women's Library to view the library's Suffrage Collection will take place on Friday 9 February at 2pm. Tickets are available from the SoG Website

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