A number of talks were held as part of the project – two by local historians Nick Marshall, Dave Neville and Mike Shuker whose original work informed the project and one by Cambridge University Professor Patricia Fara at Loughborough University based on her book A Lab of One’s Own (OUP 2018).
Mike Shuker delivered a number of talks throughout the project to a number of groups including the Loughborough Library Local Studies Group and a meeting of the Public and Commercial Services Union. The talks enabled people to connect with that research and build a connected picture between the various events in the programme. Fellow historian and co-researcher, Dave Neville presented a talk focusing on aspects of the research to a local history meeting in nearby Hathern.
Local historian, Nick Marshall at Loughborough Library delved into the archives at Loughborough Libraries Local studies section, Loughborough Echo and Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland to illuminae the local dimension of the story behind the fight for suffrage. He encouraged audience members to look behind the headlined official picture of the struggle by following the history. Dave Neville also presented aspects of Suffragette research to a local history meeting in nearby Hathern on 13th November 2018.
Another key highlight of the project was a talk by Professor Patricia Fara, historian of science at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare College. Patricia is also the Director of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science and the President of the British Society for the History of Science. Published widely, her prize-winning book ‘Science: A Four Thousand Year History’ (OUP, 2009) has been issued in numerous languages.
Professor Fara‘s public talk focused on the pivotal – but largely untold – roles of women scientists during WW1, how their work contributed to the war outcome and the Suffrage movement and what happened to them after the war was over.
Professor Fara’s talk commemorated the anniversary by enlightening people on the otherwise unknown lives of female professionals in Britain over 100 years ago. It was these overlooked scientists, doctors and engineers who contributed to the War effort and enabled modern conversation around gender equality.
Two community exhibitions featuring research by local volunteer historians were displayed at Charnwood Museum and Loughborough Library Local Studies section. Popup exhibitions were also displayed during the performance of the play The Sisters of Castledine Street at Fearon Hall, Loughborough, at Picnic in the Park, Loughborough Library and the Swan in the Rushes pub.
The main exhibition and a key output of the project had the title Votes for Women and was displayed for six weeks during 2018 leading up to the Deeds Not Words festival. It showed key aspects of the research carried out by both the social historians and Loughborough Library Local Studies volunteers displayed within four cabinets, as below:
Cabinet One: the earliest found activity of women’s activism in Loughborough to 1909 – the early activities of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union in Loughborough.
Cabinet Two: 1910 and the attempt of the WSPU to unseat local MP Sir Maurice Levy.
Cabinet Three: 1910 to the outbreak of WW1 when suffragette activism was suspended – at the insistence of their leader, Mrs Pankhurst
Cabinet Four: copies of legislation which gave women the right to vote a centenary ago – with reference to the same seminal moment in other countries eg New Zealand (1893).
Corcoran Family Display Boards: describing the family’s involvement in local activism
Wall Mounted Display: a reference to electorate numbers in 1915 (15,593) and in 1918 (32,240) showing how the turn out was enhanced by the Representation of the People Act.
At the museum the impressive formal ‘costume’ of a local Suffragette was displayed in the community case proving the elegant dress code of the WSPU impressed upon its members by Emmeline Pankhurst who insisted upon it. This was the key focus of the opening event.
The talks and performances of the community play at Fearon Hall provided a further opportunity to enjoy aspects of the exhibition materials which were displayed during the interval. Small exhibited items such as printed leaflets were made available at the talks and at the Equaliteas events in at Loughborough and nearby Mountsorrel libraries, supported by Sharon Gray of the Local Studies volunteers.