Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, the Black Country Studies Centre will be bringing you videos and blogposts about life in the Black Country, past, present and future. Expert speakers will give you insights to their subject and research, as well as sharing their recommendations and links for finding out more. Catch up with previous episodes here.

This week’s episode of Lockdown Learning is from Tara Morton of the Mapping Women’s Suffrage project….

Mapping Women’s Suffrage is creating a legacy of data about Votes for Women campaigners across the country to mark the 2028 centenary – commemorating 100 years since women attained the vote on the same terms as men. Can you help build up our Votes for Women map in the Black Country?

The Votes for Women campaign was a long struggle fought by women and men in towns and cities right across the country. However, popular representations of the movement often focus on the more dramatic ‘deeds’ of WSPU suffragettes in London, including mass vandalism, arson, raids on the Houses of Parliament, along with numerous arrests and imprisonments.

Yet, most women campaigned for the vote in the everyday communities where they lived – whether ‘suffragettes’ setting fire to pillar boxes in the sleepy Warwickshire town of Leamington Spa, or more moderate ‘suffragists’ in Wolverhampton organising afternoon teas to bring politically like-minded women together.

Finding out about such less well-known or ‘ordinary’ votes for women campaigners is not always easy. Many suffrage lives remain undiscovered, some are hidden away from public view in family scrapbooks, or information about others is scattered across and between different physical archives and online locations, creating disconnections in knowledge between family researchers, local historians, archivists, and mainstream academic and published histories. Mapping Women’s Suffrage seeks to bring together on our map, the latest research from academics, local history enthusiasts, family researchers and archivists about campaigner lives, displaying biographies, documents and photographs on the map, accessed at each campaigner’s home location in 1911.

By 1911, the women’s suffrage campaign was flourishing. The three largest societies were the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). 1911 was also the year the government took its decennial census survey recording population statistics. Thus, the 1911 census provides a ‘snapshot’ of useful data about Votes for women campaigners helping to pinpoint many of their home locations for the map. The 1911 census itself became embroiled in suffrage politics. Some campaigners boycotted it in protest at not having the vote. Some graffitied ‘Votes for Women!’ slogans right across their census forms. These can be viewed on our suffrage map which records who boycotted the census and how.

Selective functions on the interactive map will enable everyone to take a fresh look at the people, places, patterns, and diversities that made up the Votes for Women movement in exciting new ways: Who were these ‘ordinary’ women and men? What towns and streets did they live in in 1911? What suffrage societies did they belong to? Were they peaceful or law breaking? What shape did their political protests take?

Wolverhampton suffrage campaigners including Emma Sproson (WFL); Charlotte Taylor (NUWSS); Elizabeth Price (WFL); Caroline Callear (NUWSS); Sarah Dyke (NUWSS); the Carrier and Dilger families (NUWSS) are on our suffrage map. Can you help us add more and in other Black Country towns?

Visit, view & contact us via the website www.mappingwomenssuffrage.org.uk to find out more.

Interested in taking your interest in history to the next level? Find out more about studying History at the University of Wolverhampton!

You can support Black Country Living Museum during this difficult time by buying a ticket for when the museum reopens or by donating here.