Womens unit

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What was the 'angel in the house'?

The concept of the 'angel in the house' was central to Victorian beliefs about the ordering of society. Women's role was essentially domestic, looking after her husband and children. Named after Coventry Patmore's poem 'Angel in the house' (1854). 

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Why was the 1832 Great Reform Act significant?

The use of the word 'male' in the Act provided the first 'bar' to women voting, providing a focus for attack and a source of resentment. 

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Why was the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 signifi

The Act allowed for divorce to happen through the law courts instead of, as before, by a private Act of Parliament, which was both slow and very expensive. In order for a husband to divorce his wife, he had to prove her adultery. Caroline Norton campaigned heavily for the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act. 

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What was the significance of the Jackson Case of 1

In 1884 a Matrimonial Causes Act denied a husband the right to lock up his wife if she refused to have sex with him. This went some way to lesson wife-battering and marital **** by beginning to indicate that a husband's control over his wife was not absolute. In 1891 it was the appeal court judges' decision to free Mrs Jackson that reinforced this and provided case law on which other judges later relied. 

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How significant were the Married Women's Property

The Married Women's Property Acts were significant in 2 main ways:

1) The concessions they made to women's rights over what was, to all intents and purposes, their own property.

2) They were important because women organised themselves into an effective pressure group. 

The First Married Womens Property Act (1870) allowed married women to keep up to £200 in their earnings and personal property.

The second Act (1882) gave women control over all money and property they brought with them into the marriage. 

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What did the Contagious Diseases Acts aim to do?

The driving force behind the Contagious Diseases Acts was to reduce the incidence of venereal disease. 

1) 1864 Act applied to specific Naval Ports and garrison towns. It allowed the police to arrest prostitutes and order them to undergo an internal examination. If they were infected with venereal disease, they were detained until they were cured. If a woman refused she could be thrown in prison.

2) The 1866 Act extended the 1864 in that prostitutes in naval ports and garrison towns were subject to compulsory three-monthly internal examinations; regular examinations of suspected prostitutes within ten miles of the named garrison towns and naval ports were introduced.

3) 1869 Act extended the 1866 to all garrison towns and naval ports and allowed suspected prostitutes to be locked up for five days before they were examined. 

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What group was formed to campaign the repeal of th

The Ladies National Association, headed up by Josephine Butler. 

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Why were the strategy and tactics used to campaign

The strategy and tactics used by Josephine Butler and her supporters were to form the template for all future protests groups. There were letters, petitions, mass meeting and protest marches. They discovered that an effective method was to target specific parliamentary candidates i.e. Henry Storks. The poster and placard campaign against him in Newark was so strong that he withdrew his candidature. Following a highly succesful campaign the Contagious Diseases Acts were repealed in 1886, which fueled the Women's movement. 

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Who was the first member of parliament to call for

John Stuart Mill in 1866. 

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What was the significance of Girton College openin

It marked the official admittance of women to University. 

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What was the significance of the Education Act of

It allowed women to vote and serve on school boards. This meant women had an oppurtunity to make a difference at both a local and regional level. 

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What was a Poor Law Guardian?

All workhouses had guardians. These were people elected by the local community to make sure they were run properly. 

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When was the first woman elected to be a Poor Law


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Who were the Primrose League?

The Primrose League was set up in 1883 to promote the Conservative Party and to support aspiring Tory members to parliament. It's membership was strictly hierarchical: there was one class of membership with an expensive subscription favoured  by the upper classes and one class of membership with a cheaper subscription favoured by the lower classes. However it did admit men and women on equal terms. 

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Why was the forming of the Primrose League signifi

Women gained experience of national parties and national politics. 

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What was the Women's Liberal Federation?

After the success of the Primrose League, the idea of women's associations began to take hold. In 1887 all the different liberal women's associations came together and form the 'women's liberal federation'. This had a council of 500 delegates elected by the local associations and an executive committee of thirty elected by the council. The women's liberal federation operated seperately from the all-male liberal associastions but fulfilled the same functions as the women in the Primrose League. 

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What did the 1894 Local Government Act do?

1) Gave married woment he right to join single-women and widowed-women ratepayers in voting in local elections

2) Allowed women to stand for election as municipal councillors, which many women did, and concerned themselves with welfare issues. for example:

Eleanor Rathbone, Liverpool City Council, involved herself in pushing for improved housing for the poor. 

Susan Lawrence, London County Council, worked on the Education committee but also fought for the rights of women cleaners who were being abused by male caretakers. 

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How important to the cause of female suffrage was

1) He was elected on a female suffrage platform: although he refused to canvass, he gave a pre-election address in which he made it clear that he was in favour of women getting the vote. He agreed to Barbari Bodichons request to present a petition to parliament in support of female suffrage. 

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What was the significance of John Stuart Mill's pr

In May 1867 John Stuart Mill proposed that the word 'person' should be substituted for the word 'male' in the bill. In this way, suitably qualified women would be entitled to the vote on the same terms as men. The amendment was defeated by 196 votesto 73 but the subject of female enfranchisement had again been debated. 

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Why was the National Union of Women's Suffrage soc

In 1897 many of the different organizations and groups formed up to that point came together in the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies under the presidency of Millicent Fawcett. They were dedicated to achieving votes for women by legal means: by persuasion through argument, letters, public demonstration, and marches. 

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What was Millicent Fawcett's non-party approach?

Millicent Fawcett urged women to work for whichever MP or prospective MP supported female suffrage, and to refused to work for those who would not. 

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Who founded the WSPU, and when?

Emmeline Pankhurst, in 1903. 

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Why did the Pankhurts begin their militant campaig

After becoming frequently dissatisfied with the lack of progress of the NUWSS, the WSPU was formed in 1903. It was to be the first women-only organisation dedicated to achieving the extension of the franchise to include women, thus granting them political equality. 

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What was the significance of Christabel Pankhurst

In October 1905 the country was preparing for general election and, with the growing widespread popularity of the Liberal Party, Sir Edward Gray and Winston Churchill were scheduled to spreak in Manchester. Christbel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney gained access to the political meeting, armed with a banner declaring 'Votes for Women'. When they were ignored they persisted in question and were later arrested, gaining publicity which pushed forward their campaign. 

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How was the WSPU structured? Why was it criticised

The WSPU had an autocratic strucure. 

It was considered hypocritical that the WSPU demanded greater democracy from a liberal government while not being prepared to exercise it within their own organization. It was also thought that votes for women should be sought through and organisation which mirrored the British constitutional set-up, which clearly the WSPU did not. 

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Why were Charlotte Despard and Teresa Billington-G

Charlotte Despard and Teresa Billington-Greig  drew up a written constitution demanding a more democratic structure. Emmeline Pankhurst tore up the constitution and denounced them both. 

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How was the Pankhurst family divided itself?

Sylvia Pankhurst ran the East London Federation of Suffragettes, a branch of the WSPU that focused on achieving a range of rights and benefits for working-class women, and was certainly democratic in organization. Summoned by her sister and told to focus her activities on one goal an disassociate the ELFS from the Labour movement, Sylvia refused to back down. The ELFS was summarily removed as a branch of the WSPU and, cut off from its funds, was never really able to operate as a force in the suffrage movement. 

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What happened on 'Black Friday' 18 November, 1910?

On Friday 18 November, 1910 when parliament reassembled, Prime Minister Asquith, outlining the governments programme regarding the Conciliation Bill, failed to mention female suffrage. Anticipating this, Emmeline Pankhurst led a deputation of some 300 women, broken into small groups, to the House of Commons. 200 were assaulted when they attempted to run past the police. Many of the arrested suffragettes reported being assaulted and manhandled by the police. It was the first documented use of police force against suffragettes. In the aftermath, Asquiths car was vandalised. The press took the side of the suffragettes and the actions of the police were greatly criticized. The events of Black Friday were damaging to the suffrage campaign because they caused MPs to distance themself from the campaign. 

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How did the WSPU use the Emily Davison case for th

On June 4, 1913, Emily Davison went to watch the Derby at Epsom racecourse. As the horses thundered towards her, she slipped under the guard rails and was trampled to death by the King's horse, Anmer. She died shortly afterwards. The WSPU gave her a magnificent funeral, claiming she had died for female suffrage and was one of their martyrs. The WSPU heavily exploited the case for publicity for the movement and gained alot of support from it. 

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Why was it so difficult to gain the approval of pa

No one knew how large numbers of enfranchised women would vote, and they did no want to increase the electorate in this way if it meant reducing their chances of winning a general election. 

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Why was the Liberal government reluctant to give w

1) Herbet Asquith, who became Prime Minister in 1908, was not in favour of giving women the vote and so was not inclined to find parliamentary time in his busy reformist programme for women's suffrage. 

2) The Liberal governments majority was steadily reduced by a number of by-elections and, after 1910, was forced to rely on the support of Irish Nationalists and the Labour Party to remain in power. It was not likely to be willing to introduce an issue that was so controversial that its majority could be wiped out. 

3) The liberals had other far more important problems with which to grapple: insurrection in Ireland, industrial unrest and rebellious House of Lords

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Why was Asquith so opposed to giving women the vot

He lost touch with his provincial origins in his enjoyment of Oxford University, the law and London society and therefore could not understand why women wanted the vote so badly. This bias was reinforced by Asquith's own experience which led him to treat women as amiable companions due to his two wives, Helen and Emma. 

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How significant were the Conciliation Bills?

The Conciliation Bills were put before the House of Commons, one each year in 1910, 1911 and 1912 which would extend the right of women to vote in the United Kingdom and Ireland to around 1,000,500 wealthy, property owning women. While the Liberal government, of H. Asquith supported this, a number of backbenchers, both Conservatives and Liberals, did not support the bill for fear that it would damage their parties success in general elections. Some pro-suffrage groups rejected the bills because they gave the vote only to some women; some members of parliament rejected them because they gave some women the right to vote. The bill failed to be passed each time and after the last time, the women, disillusioned by what they saw as deception and duplicity, left the Women's Liberal Foundation in droves and focused on supporting the Labour Party while the WSPU returned to violence. 

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How did the Liberal government deal with suffraget

At first they responded to the violence by arresting the suffragettes causing the disturbances, but when the women refused to pay the fines they had no choice to but imprison them. The spectacle of middle-class women entering prison was not one the government wanted. At first they recieved 'first division' treatment'. After 1908 however they recieved 'second division' treatment and were treated as ordinary criminals. 

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How did suffragettes use time in prison to their a

After suffragette Marion Wallace Dunlop decided to reguse all food hunger striking became the weapon of choice for imprisoned suffragettes. At first, hunger strikers were released from prison. Then, the government, terrified of a suffragette dying in prison and creating a martyr, introduced 'force feeding'. Over a thousand women were forcibly fed. The careful system the prisons used to choose which women could be forcefed enabled the WSPU to draw attention to class divisions in prison and society. 

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To what extent did the Conservative Party support

The Conservative was as divided over women's suffrage as the Liberal party. 

In 1866, Disraeli said: 'I do not see on what reasons she has not a right to vote' but gave John Stuart Mill no support when he proposed womens suffrage

In 1881, Lord Salisbury maintained 'The day is not far distant when women will also bear their share in voting for members of parliament and in determining the policy of the country' But he voted against the second reading of a women's suffrage bill in 1891. 

Conservatives of the House of Lords were generally opposed to womens suffrage. However, Lord Lytton was president of the Men's League for women's suffrage and consistently supported female enfranchisement. 

In 1913, Bonar Law, following Balfour as leader of the Conservative Part refused to support an amendment to a franchise reform bill that would have enfranchised women. 

The Conservative Party was generally opposed to any form of franchise after Disraeli's 'leap in the dark' (1867 reform act) 

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To what extent did the Labour Party support women'

It might seem as first natural that a party of the left would support the cause of women's suffrage. However, although a solid core of labour MPs voted consistently for women's suffrage, this was generally not the case. The problem for the Labour Party, with its socialist principles, was that it favoured 'universal' suffrage. Faced with pressure from middle-class women wanting the vote on equal terms with men many Labour MPs simply thought that they would be perpetuating the class system they had vowed to destroy, So womens suffrage was made a secondary issue and it was assumed that it would happen once universal suffrage was achieved. 

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What was the attitude of Keir Hardie?

Keir Hardio, the first leader of the Labour Party in the Commons, was close to the Pankhursts and supported the militant campaign, collecting funds, writing leaflets and teaching them about parliamentary techniques. 

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What was the attitude of the Labour party in the c

The WSPU recieved active support of many Labour party branches.  The Woolwich branch, for example, consistently support the aims and methods of the WSPU. 

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How was 1912 a significant turning point?

1) At the Labour Partys anual January conference, Arthur Henderson proposed that the party should only support the adult suffrage bill if it enfranchised women as well. This proposal was accepted by the delegates, 

2) The NUWSS dropped its opposition to allying with a political party and formed an election pact with the Labour Party. This meant that they raised a special fund and designated election organisers not only to help Labour MPs retain their seats, but to assist Labour candidates in seats where the sitting Liberal MP was anti female suffrage. 

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How far did trade unions support women's suffrage?

The Trade Union movement as a whole was generally hostile to womens suffrage.

The 1901 Trades Congress showed themselves to be antagonistic to votes for women and in 1912 the National Union of Mineworkers, with their large block vote, successfully opposed a motion calling for votes for women. 


there were some women's trade unions

several weavers unions in Lancashire encouraged their MPs to support womens suffrage

in the east end of london Sylvia Pankhurst drew massive support from large numbers of unionized working men

In 1913 the Trade Union Congress followed the Labour Party in agreeing that support for suffrage reform should only be given if that reform included enfranchising women. 

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How did the media support women's suffrage?

The Times was steadfastly hostile to women's suffrage and published letters that agreed with the newspapers general attitude

The London Standard followed a similar line, condemning suffragettes as 'deranged lunatics'

The Daily Mirror published the photographs of Black Friday, as did the Illustrated London News. But did this indicate support for the WSPU or a desire to increase circulation by printing titillating photographs? The Daily Mirror, however, had been founded by Lord Northcliffe specifically to appeal to women.

The Workman's Times supported votes for women and some men produced their own papers in support of women's suffrage. In 1905, for example, J. Francis started a weekly Women's Franchise 

Local newspapers tended to be more sympathetic to the suffrage cause

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When was the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League

1908, by Lady Jersey and Ms Humphrey Ward

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What did the WSPU do when war broke out?

Threw itself into a vigorous patriotic campaign, placing its organisation and funds at the disposal of the government. Old enmities were set aside, and government and WSPU joined forces to fight side by side in the common cause. By 1915 2 million men had gone abroad to fight and the government was desperate to recruit women workers. 

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How did David Lloyd George and Emmeline Pankhurst

David Lloyd George, Minister of Munitions, supplied the money and Emmeline Pankhurst the organisation and together they mounted a series of huge demonstrations and numerous smaller scale meetings that were designed to encourage women to join the workforce. 

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What was the reaction of the NUWSS to the war?

Most members of the NUWSS viewed the war as a disaster. They tried to restore peace and order in Europe and some women participated in a peace rally on 4 August 1914 that was organised by the Women's Labour League and the Women's Cooperative Guild. The intention of the rally was to urge GB to adopt a neutral role. 

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Why did Millicent Fawcett split the NUWSS?

Millicent Fawcett split the NUWSS to follow a path that would lead to women's suffrage rather than a peace policy based on the proposition that men were inherently violent. Millicent Fawcett and her followers argued that the war effort had to be supported because a German victory would put back the cause of women's suffrage. 

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What was the Women's Land Army>

The Women's Land Army was established by the government in order to persuade women to work in agriculture. This was necessary because of the large number of farm labourers who had been enlisted in the armed forces, and because Britain needed to become more self-sufficient in terms of food. By 1917 there were over 260,000 women working as farm labourers. 

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What did the new constitution of the Labour Party

It made 'women' one of several affiliated groups, which included trade unions, socialist societies and local labour parties. Women's sections were set up, enabling four women to be elected as Labours National Executive. However unemployment rose after the war and trade unionists wanted to protect the interests of their (mainly) male members. Too often women employees were the first to be sacrificed in the effort to protect mens jobs. 

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What did the 1919 Sex Disqualification Act do?

Gave women the right to become jurors, magistrates and barristers, and to enter the higher ranks of the civil service. Also removed legal barriers to women becoming graduates of Oxford and Cambridge universities. 

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What did the 1922 Married Womens Maintenance Act d

Allowed women 40 shillings for herself and 10 shillings for each child. 

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1922 Infanticide Act - what did it do?

Removed the charge of muder from mothers who killed their infant children, recognising that some women were medically depressed after birth. 

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What did the 1923 Bastardy Act do?

Increased maintenence payments to single mothers. 

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What did the 1925 Guardianship of Infants Act do?

Gave mothers the same custody rights as men. 

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Who eventually granted Equal Franchise?

The Conservative Government. 

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What happened to Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pa

Millicent Fawcett - She held the post as the leader of the NUWSS until 1919. After that, she left the suffrage campaign on the most party, and devoted much of her time to writing books. She was award damehood in 1925. 

Emmeline Pankhurst - In the years after the 1918 armistice, Pankhurst continued to promote her nationalist vision of British unity. In 1926 Pankhurst became an official of the Conservative Party. 

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