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The Vote Before The Vote

The Vote Before The Vote
Dates and times

4 Aug 2019 - 31 Aug 2019

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Fabrication Crafts

79 Albion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AP

An exhibition about the Leeds women who made the suffragettes possible.

Fabrication is proud to present this exhibition first put together for the centenary of the Representation of the People Act in 2019, which first gave the Parliamentary vote to women, dedicated to the Victorian Leeds women who laid the foundations for what happened at the start of the 20th century.

Beginning in 1832, with the first petition to Parliament from Mary Smith, who lived in Far Headingley (it was laughed out of the House of Commons) to 1903, The Vote Before The Vote highlights the towering Leeds figures in the 19th century Suffragist movement, names that have largely been forgotten now, but who deserve to be remembered: women like Mrs. Catherine Buckton, Isabella Ford, Alice Cliff Scatcherd, Constance Holland, and Mary Gawthorpe. It will catalogue their struggles in the long march towards the vote, and their successes along the way.

And there certainly were successes. Mrs. Buckton became the first woman elected to the Leeds School Board in 1873, while others helped women organise, both in unions and politically. Some, like Mary Gawthorpe, straddled the era between Suffragists and Suffragettes.

A change in the law in 1894 meant that all ratepayers were able to vote in some local elections, and women could run to be Parish Councillors and Poor Law Guardians. For the very first time in English politics, the working class – especially working-class women – had a political voice. Thanks to the work of the Suffragists, they were able to use it.

Curated by Leeds suffrage historian Vine Pemberton Joss, The Vote Before The Vote is a groundbreaking exhibition that shines the light on an area of local history that’s been ignored for far too long. People should know about these pioneering women who believed in an idea and worked to achieve it, even in a time when the thought of women voting was widely ridiculed. What they achieved was remarkable, and without them, the Suffragettes – who largely dismissed those who’d paved the way for them – would have had a much harder battle.

We will also be holding events around this exhibition so please keep an eye for information

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During this period of social distancing and lockdown due to Coronavirus we advise that you check directly with the organiser of this event that it is going ahead as publicised.

Please note our room for fairs and exhibitions is currently inaccessible to wheelchair users

Fabrication Crafts Ltd
  • Exhibitions
  • Heritage
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