To what extent did women become involved in public life before 1901?

Notes on women in public life in Britain before 1901 including some notes on some key people. Thought they might be helpful..

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  • Created by: Kirsty
  • Created on: 22-02-13 04:22
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Kirsty 03/10/2012
Key question:
To what extent did women become more involved in public life before 1901?
Poor Law
Local Councils
Timeline/Key dates
1859- Workhouse Visiting Society formed- Louisa Twining
1869- Municipal Franchise Act- unmarried women ratepayers could vote in municipal elections
1870- Education Act- women ratepayers could vote and serve on school boards
1875- First women elected on Poor Law Boards
1881- First Women's Liberal Association formed
1883- Primrose League established, gave women a chance to see what politics was like.
1887- Women's Liberal Federation established- centres all around the country, united them all, and
wanted their women's group to be more effective.
1894- Local Government Act- married women could vote in local elections and women could stand
for election as municipal councillors. Women could now be the mayoress of their town.
Education Act 1870
Education not compulsory before this
Liberal MP for Bradford, WE Forster, wanted elementary education for all
Districts run by School Boards
Women allowed to be elected onto School Boards
However, 1902 Local Authorities replaced School Boards and women declared ineligible.
Education was seen as quite a female thing because they were considered nurturing and
mothering so being able to be involved in education was seen as a natural step up for
Poor Law:
1875- First woman Poor Law Guardian
By 1901 around 1000 women
1859 Louisa Twining set up Workhouse Visiting Society
Also seen as a natural step up for women because of their nurturing nature.
How active were women in politics before 1901?
Conservative Party and Primrose League 1883
Liberal party and Women's Liberal Association (WLA)
1894- Local Government Act

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Kirsty 03/10/2012
1851-1914- The situation for Women
Poor Law
First Female Poor Law Guardian in 1875 and by 1900 there were around 1000 female Poor
Law Guardians who tried to improve the worst aspects of workhouse life
They did things such as replace broken chairs or make things more comfortable for people
Agatha Stacey, a Birmingham Poor Law Guardian also found homes for the homeless, single
mothers and those with special learning needs.…read more

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Kirsty 03/10/2012
1861- 26.3% of 2.709 million people employed women
1871- 26.8% of 3.118 million people employed were women
1881- 25.4% of 3.93 million people employed were women
Domestic service was a very important job for women as in rural areas going into service
work was about the only opportunity of work for unmarried and widowed women in order
to be self-supporting, especially since employment of women in agriculture was declining.
Domestic servants were increasing from under 1 million in 1851 to 1.…read more

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Kirsty 03/10/2012
1857- Matrimonial causes Act meant easier divorce as before divorce was only allowed if
couples went through a private Act of Parliament which was expensive and time consuming.
Before the Act divorce was also discriminatory as men could divorce their wives if they
proved she had committed adultery whereas the wife had to prove that her husband had
been cruel or deserted her as well as proof that he had committed adultery.…read more

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Kirsty 03/10/2012
When the Second Reform Act was passed the vote was given to adult male householders
(and lodgers with one year's residence) in the towns which also meant that skilled tradesmen
could get the vote. In 1884 male householders in the country were also given the vote. This
gave campaigners for women's suffrage fuel to expand their campaign further.…read more


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