At the last Wednesfield History Society meeting. There was a small band of Members who were interested in any local Wednesfield History around the Suffragettes. I have been exploring possible links with the Wolverhampton Archives team.
Here is what I have found out.
I can confirm that, as yet, we have no evidence of a prominent suffragette residing within Wednesfield. It is apparent that there was support as evidenced by the following quote, taken from an article by George J Barnsby, which states:
“At the end of April, Gladice Keevil was announcing her plans for May. She was bringing Mrs. Pethwick-Lawrence into Wolverhampton on Wednesday the 3rd to a meeting at Victoria Hall and the next day there was a meeting in the Market Square. There was also to be an open-air meeting the following Saturday in the Market place. Gladice was in Wolverhampton the whole of that week holding Market place meetings on Saturday, Monday, Thursday and Friday with a meeting at Wednesfield on the Tuesday and Tettenhall the next day.”
(Gladice was the National Organiser for the WSPU and established a regional office in Birmingham.)
Archives tell me that that they “ do hold a small bound volume of the Wolverhampton Women’s Suffrage Society Annual Reports 1909-1915 which provides a list of names of members of the society and where their meetings are being held. However, the names do not have corresponding addresses and none of the meetings take place in Wednesfield.”
Archives go on to say “ The reports do note that there is much more support than it appears by simply viewing the membership lists but that many women are not comfortable formally joining the Society. The Red Books for 1914 -1918 show that the Society is still in existence during the war years but does not have a Wednesfield Branch (it does have a Blakenhall one).”
I am so indebted to the Archives team and Claire Jones the Archive Assistan, for assisting me in finding this information.
Now we know that some of The Members of the Wednesfield Local History Society regularly use the Archives – Perhaps if they find any snippets they can be kept, and repoted to the next History Society meeting.
The exhibition that is currently displayed in the Archives shows a newspaper article entitled Sulphur v Suffragettes and discusses sulphur being thrown at Suffragettes in Wolverhampton in March 1904.
Perhaps I can suggest that if you live in Wednesfield and have never visited the Wolverhampton Archives you do so! It’s a really great place to spend an hour looking at our Local History.
The Photograph is of Emma Sproson or Red Emma, a Leading Wolverhampton Suffragette, and the first Woman elected on Wolverhampton Council….