Thursday, 13 December 2018

Celebrating the Centenary of women’s suffrage

Centenary of women’s suffrage
2018 marks 100 years since women first got the vote and 14th December 1918 was the first time they could use their vote in an election.

Ilka Heale (Library Metadata Specialist) discovers some resources in the Library’s electronic collections.

CC BY 2.0
1918 was a momentous year for women. On 6th February Parliament passed a law which allowed some women and all men to vote for the first time.

The Representation of the People Act extended the voting age for men to over the age of 21. More importantly women aged 30 and over, who met minimum property qualifications, were eligible to vote. In other words women now accounted for about 43% of the electorate.

To find out more about the history of women’s suffrage, read this ebook by suffragist campaigner Millicent Garrett Fawcett. However, it wasn’t until 14th December 1918 when the new electorate voted in their first election.

The 1918 General election was called immediately after the end of the First World War. Polling took place on 14th December 1918 but the vote counting did not start until after Christmas, to allow time to include the ballots cast by soldiers serving overseas.

Will There Be Women M.P.s? (1917)
In November 1918, the Government passed the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act which allowed women to be elected to Parliament. It was only one page long and stated “A woman shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage for being elected to or sitting or voting as a member of the Commons House of Parliament.”.

Image in the public domain. Wikipedia

Seventeen women stood in the 1918 general election. One was elected - Irish republican Countess Constance Markievicz, but as a member of Sinn Féin did not take her seat at Westminster. 

Read more about this remarkable woman in The rebel countess : the life and times of Constance Markievicz by Anne Marreco.

It wasn’t until December 1919 that Nancy Astor was successfully elected as the MP for Plymouth Sutton, becoming the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.

Electoral equality was finally realised in 1928. The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 gave the vote to women at age 21 regardless of any property qualification.

The Library has many ebooks and other online resources in it’s collections about the female suffrage movement. Below is a small selection but search YorSearch, the Library catalogue for others.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anybody can comment on this blog, provided that your comment is constructive and relevant. Comments represent the view of the individual and do not represent those of The University of York Information Directorate. All comments are moderated and the Information Directorate reserves the right to decline, edit or remove any unsuitable comments.