At the beginning of the month both myself and Georgia Butcher made our way down to Lakeside Arts for a private view of Manuscripts and Special Collections latest exhibit: ‘A Selection of Elections’. Curated by Kathryn Summerwill and officially opened by Val Wood of the Nottingham Women’s History group, we enjoyed surveying original archives, letters, and bills all relating to Nottingham’s experience with the election.
“She was the only female candidate in the East Midlands”
One of the first displays that caught our eyes was that regarding Violet Markham who during the 1918 election stood as an Independent Liberal in Nottingham for the Mansfield Division. She was the only female candidate in the East Midlands and went on to become the first female mayor of Chesterfield in 1927. The exhibit displays some article written by Violet, as well as letters. We got chatting to David Stewart who’s currently working on a project with the council to compile a list of ‘female firsts’ with Nottingham Council and who spoke to us about Violet’s impact on the women’s rights movement.
The exhibit features multitudes of Nottingham’s female suffrage movement, rich in archives featuring its victories as well as the obstacles it faced. I enjoyed the display of Notable Nottingham Women showcasing important figures such as Catherine Turner who was one of 49 people in Nottingham who signed a petition for the right to vote put forward by John Stewart Mill. Her signing was significant as this was the first mass petition for Votes for Women put forward to Parliament. Turner also went onto establish a girls boarding school at Lenton fields showing her persistence in assisting female equality.
“The exhibit features multitudes of Nottingham’s female suffrage movement, rich in archives featuring its victories as well as the obstacles it faced”
Other notable things included information on Chartism and archives on the WMC who were trying to increase the political influence of the working classes at the time. Caricatures and printed ballads reflect the ongoing battle of the time and show how easily the aristocrats could sway the system in their own favour.
Time to book your tickets for #ASelectionOfElections' first lunchtime talk @LakesideArts. Dr Richard Gaunt @UoNHumanities speaks a week today on the 4th Duke of Newcastle and 19th century #reform pic.twitter.com/761pQqpbYK
— mssLakeside (@mssLakeside) September 20, 2018
A good example of this would be the instance of the Dukes of Portland and Newcastle. The 4th Duke of Newcastle- Henry Pelham Clinton- opposed the electoral reform and during the Great Reform Act of 1832 lost £200,000 patronage and the influence of six boroughs as a result.
“Caricatures and printed ballads reflect the ongoing battle of the time”
D H Lawrence was also featured as having friends who voted in favour of female rights but who was apprehensive himself as he despised the political system. UON’s very own Lawrence specialist described him aptly as being an “anti-suffragist suffragette”.
A Selection of Elections is on until the 2nd of December in the Weston Gallery at Lakeside Arts.
Special collections is also featuring a talk called: Women’s Suffrage up to 1928 by Val Wood of the Nottingham Women’s History Group on the 24th of October.
Featured image courtesy of Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham.