Women's Suffrage Centennial Women’s History Review

On February 6th 1918 the Representation of the People Act reached the royal assent and for the first time in Britain certain women were given the right to vote. This momentous event was the result of a hard-fought campaign, begun by Millicent Fawcett in the mid-nineteenth century in founding the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, and escalated by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst in the early twentieth century. Founders of the Women’s Social and Political Union, Emmeline and Christabel advocated ‘deeds not words’ in winning suffrage for women, instigating a militant campaign in which women all over the UK rose up in protest and changed the course of women’s history forever.

The documentation of these women and gender history has changed rapidly throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Women’s History Review is a journal dedicated to the documentation of women’s history, with a rich archive of pieces that bring to light the actions of the women who fought for our right to vote. Our suffrage virtual special issue brings together articles both young and old from across the journal’s history, reflecting on the Pankhursts, women as historians and the construction of the suffragettes.  

This collection also features a series of exclusive interviews with June Purvis, editor of Women’s History Review, emeritus professor of women’s history at the University of Portsmouth and a renowned historian of the suffragette movement. In honour of the centenary year of women winning the right to vote, and in celebration of Women’s History Month, June shares with us her extensive knowledge on the origins of this historic movement, the role of militancy in achieving suffrage, the status of women’s suffrage across the globe and her feelings on the resonance of the suffragette’s messages one hundred years on.

In the collation of this content we hope to spark conversation around the suffragette movement and its documentation by female historians, but also around the status of gender equality in 2018. Just how far have we come since the 1918 act and how much further do we need to venture in order to make sure the messages of the suffragettes are truly realised?

This content is free until the end of 2018.

Interview with June Purvis

How far was radicalism responsible for achieving women's suffrage in 1918?

How much of a victory do you consider 1918, given that completely equal voting rights with men would not be achieved for another ten years?

How did the UK victory of 1918 relate to women’s suffrage across the globe?

How has the documentation of women's suffrage history changed since you first became editor of Women's History Review?

Do you think the message of the suffragettes still resonates 100 years later? What can we do to keep their message and actions alive?