The Legacy of the Suffragettes

A guest blog by our Director, Katy Archer

The People’s History Museum hosted the Suffragette Legacy Conference on Saturday 8 March, in partnership with Manchester University. The event formed part of the International Women’s Day celebrations for 2014 and the ongoing Wonder Women campaign.8 March 2014, Suffragette Legacy Conference @ People's History Museum (2)

With a diverse and dynamic programme of speakers and contributors, the day was interesting, engaging and thought-provoking. I personally found parts of the day funny, sad, inspiring and surprising…

Alison Ronan’s paper really helped to set the scene by exploring and uncovering the work of the Suffragettes in Manchester and the North West, while we also heard an international perspective from Katherine Chan and about the Birmingham experience from Nicola Gauld and Sima Gonsai in the afternoon.

The day included fascinating perspectives on research into the legacy of the suffragettes and their links to modern day campaigning such as Ben Halligan’s presentation on the ‘Slutwalk’ and Bernadette Hyland talking about the links between the Suffragettes and working class women today.

There were creative sessions including Steph Pike’s beautiful poetry, information about Warp and Weft’s ‘Masks in the TownHall’ project and the Pankhurst Centre’s photography project. All showing how important and powerful arts and culture are to making a point, to engaging audiences and to reflecting on big contemporary issues in today’s society.

And the day was also brought to life by our very own Hannah Mitchell with an extract from The Hard Way Up – the real-life story of a working class Suffragette from the North West.8 March 2014, Suffragette Legacy Conference @ People's History Museum (1)

The day has been captured on storify and definitely generated a lot of comment and dialogue on twitter. We received lots of positive feedback from speakers and from delegates and the conference format is definitely something for us to build upon in future years as we head towards 2018 and the centenary of women gaining the right to vote for the first time.

But the Suffragettes story and legacy wasn’t just about the right to vote – something that we discussed a lot on the day – and there were many other issues being addressed by women at the time and by women today… rights at work… rights at home… rights that are all part of the People’s History Museum’s story as the ‘home of ideas worth fighting for’.

You can see these ‘ideas’ on display in our main exhibition spaces, our changing exhibitions, our community gallery and our pop-up displays around the museum.

And you can take part in and enjoy many more events like the Suffragette Legacy Conference at the museum in 2014 – keep checking our website for details of upcoming events and sign up to our e-newsletter as well to keep up to date.

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