WSPU leaders sitting around a table looking at papers together and writing.

The Suffrage Interviews

"...it was tremendously exhilarating when you felt that everybody of every creed and class were united in wanting one simple thing..." - Margery Corbett-Ashby

Oral Evidence on the Suffragette and Suffragist Movements.

I went into the crowd listening to Mrs Pankhurst.

Talk about a queen!

She was the most queenly person I think I have ever met.

A beautiful voice.

Grace Roe

 

Background to the collection

This is a collection of oral history interviews about the British first wave feminist movement. The interviews were conducted by the historian Brian Harrison between 1974 and 1981, as part of a project funded by the Social Science Research Council (he later extensively used these interviews in his book 'Prudent Revolutionaries: Portraits of British Feminists between the Wars' Oxford University Press 1987). The recordings were deposited with the Women’s Library in 1981 and the collection consists of 205 interviews with 183 individuals.

The original aim of the project was to provide material to supplement documentary sources on the Edwardian women’s suffrage movement in Britain and to make these interviews available to scholars subsequently working in the field. Interviews were conducted with surviving suffrage campaigners, their relatives and employees. Many of the interviewees talk about their relationships with more famous suffrage leaders such as the Pankhursts, Flora Drummond and Millicent Fawcett.

As the project progressed the scope widened: it extended chronologically to include discussion of the women’s movement after full enfranchisement in 1928 and it extended thematically to encompass those who were active in various women’s organisations, including international and religious organisations, and to cover wider discussion of women’s lives. The interviews are particularly rich in subjects such as politics, trade unionism, international peace activism, women’s employment and family life, and the birth-control movement. Taken as a whole, the collection is a key source for British women’s history of the 20th century.

One of the most exhilarating sides I found of the women’s movement was that it changed us, from the don’ts to the dos. The average girl of my age was always being told you can’t do that, you oughtn’t to do that; it was a series of constrictions.

Margery Corbett-Ashby

The interviews

Harrison travelled the UK interviewing the women (whom he referred to as his ‘informants’) in their own homes. He also visited Ireland and conducted one interview in Australia. 

The interviews are very much conversations – as you will hear, Harrison interrupts, attempts to clarify, and prompts.  You will hear household noises in the background – ticking clocks, birds in the garden, even chinking of glasses! The informal settings of the interviews (and Harrison’s equipment) mean the sound quality is sometimes not great – the voices of the interviewees can be indistinct or obscured by background noise. The interviews often begin and end quite abruptly – sometimes when his subjects are in the middle of saying something – so don’t be thrown when you listen to the recordings if they appear to start or end mid-sentence – this is the way they were recorded not a fault of later editing.

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View the archives catalogue record for this collection.

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You can also search within this collection for specific keywords in each record. To do this, use the advanced search function of the archives catalogue and enter your search term in the 'Any Text' field, and the collection reference followed by an asterisk (ie: 8SUF*) in the 'Ref No' field. 

Access the interviews

Click 'View record' to look at the individual archives catalogue record which includes further information about the recording.

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1. Stocks, Lady. View recordListen

2. Stocks, Lady. View recordListen

3. Corbett-Ashby, Dame Margery. View recordListen

4. Corbett-Ashby, Dame Margery. View recordListen

5. Mairet, Philip. View recordListen

6. Corbett-Ashby, Dame Margery. View recordListen

7. Roe, Miss Grace. View recordListen

8. Blackman, Mrs. View recordListen

9. Barnes, Mrs Annie. View recordListen

10. Billington Greig, Miss Fiona. View recordListen

11. Pierotti, Miss Muriel. View recordListen

12. Butler, Miss Christina Violet. View recordListen

13. Roe, Miss Grace. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

14. Butler, Miss Christina Violet. View recordListen

15. Roberts, Miss Winifred Adair. View recordListen

16. Bennett, Mrs Mary. View recordListen

17. Butler, Miss Ruth. View recordListen

18. Cohen, Mrs Leonora. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

19. Cohen, Mrs Leonora. View recordListen

20. Taylor, Mr Joseph. View recordListen

21. Hale, Miss Cicely. View recordListen

22. Frances, Mrs Juanita. View recordListen

23. Lawson, Miss Marie. View recordListen

24. Lawson, Miss Marie. View recordListen

25. Butler, Christina Violet. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

26. Ricardo, Lady Beatrice. View recordListen

27. Crum, Michael re Lettice Fisher. View recordListen

28. Barnes, Annie. View recordListen

29. Flint, Mrs Elsie. View recordListen

30. Smith, Maude Kate. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

31. Robinson, Miss Margaret. View recordListen

32. Hunkins-Hallinan, Mrs Hazel. View recordListen

33. Sowerbutts, Miss FM. View record Listen

34. Evans, Mrs Lyndal. View record Listen

36. Lutyens, Mrs Naomi. View recordListen

37. Chew, Miss Doris re Ada Nield Chew. View recordListen

38. Morrison, Miss Sybil. View recordListen

39. Price, Reginald Charles. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

40. Lutyens, Mrs Naomi. View recordListen

41. Johnson, Mrs Marion. View recordListen

42. Schofield-Coates, Mrs. View recordListen

43. Douie, Miss Vera. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

44. Shaw, Miss Betty & Blake, Mrs Anne. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

49. Lutyens, Miss Elisabeth. View recordListen

50. BBC programmes on Domestic Service. View recordListen

51. Woodhouse, Lady Davina re Lord Lytton. View recordListen

52. Munro-Ashman, Dr Donald. View recordListen

53. Cole, Dame Margaret. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

54. Moyes, Helen. View recordListen

55. Moyes, Helen. View recordListen

56. Hall, Mr Edward & Mrs Pauline. View recordListen

57. Hall, Mr Edward & Mrs Pauline. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

58. Moyes, Helen. View recordListen

59. Veale, Sir Douglas. View recordListen

60. Veale, Sir Douglas. View recordListen

61. Veale, Sir Douglas. View recordListen

62. Tabor, Miss Mary. View recordListen

63. Thorndike, Sybil. View recordListen

64. Patterson, Mrs Ann (née Stocks). View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

65. Tabor, Miss Lucy. View recordListen

66. Hubback, David & Miss Rachel. View recordListen

67. Hopkinson, Mr David & Mrs Diana. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

68. Wootton, Baroness. View recordListen

69. Inglis, Miss Hazel. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

70. Raphael, Mrs Winifred. View recordListen

71. Barrowman, Dr Barclay & Mrs. View recordListen

72. Nelki, Mrs Erna. View recordListen

73. Inglis, Miss Hazel. View recordListen

74. Green, Helen. View recordListen

75. Toomer, Miss Mabel re Mary Toomer. View recordListen

76. Walker, Mrs Anne re Laura Taylor. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

77. Neale, Mrs Elizabeth. View recordListen

78. Bartels, Miss Olive. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

79. Lidiard, Mrs Victoria (née Simmons). View recordListen

80. Beeston, Miss Louisa & Jackson, Miss EM. View recordListen

81. Clark, F Le Gros. View recordListen

82. Yeadon, Mr & Mrs Herbert JG. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

83. Fulford, Roger. View recordListen

84. Lewcock, Mrs Connie. View recordListen

85. Links, Mrs Mary (née Lutyens). View recordListen

86. Smith, Mr & Mrs Leslie. View recordListen

87. Murray, Miss Flora. View recordListen

88. Stephens, Mrs Marjorie Sprince. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

89. Mann, Miss J de L. View recordListen 

90. Needham, Mrs Nita. View recordListen

91. Hinton, Mrs Vere. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

92. Groom-Smith, Mrs Gladys. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

93. Fulford, Mrs Edith. View recordListen

94. Lagsding, Miss Elsie. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

95. Unnamed worker at The Vote offices. View recordListen

96. Northey, Mrs Molly. View recordListen

97. Kempster, Miss Elizabeth. View recordListen

98. Morrison, Miss Vida A. View recordListen

99. Hodgson, Mrs Mary. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

100. Cottrell, Mr George. View recordListen

101. Coningham, Miss Eva. View recordListen

102. Groom-Smith, Mrs Gladys. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)   

103. Goodman, Mrs Peggy. View recordListen

104. Cohen, Mrs Leonora. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

106. Corbett-Ashby, Dame Margery. View recordListen

107. Cobbold, Lady Hermione | View recordListen

108. Konter, Mrs & Hunter, Mrs. View recordListen

109. Turnbull, Sir Frank. View recordListen

110. Lytton, Lady Anne. View recordListen

114. Collisson, Miss Margery Chave. View recordListen

115. Gilliland, Mrs Jean & Platts-Mills, Mr & Mrs JFF. View recordListen

116. Corbett-Ashby, Dame Margery. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

117. Douie, Miss Vera. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

118. Fairfield, Dr Letitia. View recordListen

119. Jay, Mrs Peggy. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

120. Hunot, Mrs Jean. View recordListen

121. Dunlop, Mrs Mary. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)Listen (c)

122 - 123. Halpern, Mrs Barbara. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)Listen (c)

124. Stocks, Miss Helen. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

125. Hill, Prof Rosalind & Barratt, Miss Christina | View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

126. Fairfield, Dr, Letitia. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

127. Corbett-Ashby, Dame Margery. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

128. Soper, Mrs Marjorie. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

129. Hilton, Miss Irene| View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

130. Wright, Dr Helena. View recordListen

131. Horton, Mrs Gertrude. View recordListen

132. Wentzel, Mr Cyril & Mrs Ursula. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

133. Stedman, Mrs Myra. View recordListen

134. Furlong, Miss E re Kathleen Courtney. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

135. Daniels, Mr & Mrs. View recordListen

136. Hamilton Smith, Miss E. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

137. Cox, Mrs Doris & Soper, Mrs Marjorie. View recordListen

138. Halpin, Miss. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

139. Horton, Mrs Gertrude. View recordListen

140. Cox, Mrs Doris & Schaerli, Mrs Vera. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

141. Hilton, Miss Irene. View recordListen 

142. Richards, Mrs Alice. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

143. Groves, Mrs. View recordListen

144. Frankenburg, Mrs Charis. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

145. Horton, Mrs Gertrude. View recordListen

146. Wright, Mrs Elsie & Lewcock, Mrs Connie | View recordListen

147. Balls, Miss Norah. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)   

148. Murdoch, Mrs Almora. View recordListen

149. Wright, Dr Helena. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

150. Noel-Baker, Right Honourable Philip. View recordListen

151. Balogh, Lord. View recordListen

152. Campion, Sidney R. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

153. Schofield, Mrs Alice. View recordListen    

154. Smieton, Dame Mary. View recordListen 

155. Franklin, Mr Colin & Mrs Charlotte. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

156. Dugdale, George. View recordListen

157. Stephen, Miss Jessie. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

158. Courtney, Mrs Mary. View recordListen

159. Ward, Baroness Irene. View recordListen

160. Thomas, Mrs Marion. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

161. Sheehy-Skeffington, Mrs André. View recordListen

162. Fitzpatrick, Dr Elizabeth. View recordListen

163. Litster, Mrs. View recordListen

164. Comerford, Miss Maire. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

165. Robinson, Miss Margaret. View recordListen

166. Ridgway, Mrs Margaret re Anna Munro. View recordListen

167. Pyke, Dr David. View recordListen

168. Adams, Mrs Dorothy re Anna Munro. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)    

169. Wolff, Mrs Helga. View recordListen     

171. Coleman, Mrs Gwen. View recordListen

172. Richley, Mrs Ursula & Mr Noel re Alice Franklin. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)     

173. Burrell, Lady. View recordListen  

174. Picton-Turbervill, Wilfrid. View recordListen

175. Wells, Mrs M. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

177. Raphael, Mrs Nancy. View recordListen

178. Howard, Basil Alvin. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

179. Gibberd, Miss Kathleen. View recordListen

180. Stewart, Right Honourable Michael MP. View recordListen

181. Taylor, Dr Rosalie. View recordListen (a)Listen (b) 

182. Hiorns, Miss Marjorie. View recordListen

183. Hadow, Misses Christine & Rachel | View recordListen

184. Marshall, Professor Thomas Humphrey. View recordListen

185. Hadow, Miss Enid. View recordListen (a)Listen (b) 

186. Halpern, Mrs Barbara. View recordListen

187. Franklin, Norman & Jill. View recordListen (a)Listen (b) 

188. Radice, Mrs Joan. View recordListen

190. Brockway, Lord, (Archibald) Fenner. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)  

193. Shannon, Mrs Gertrude. View recordListen    

194. Frankenburg, Mrs Charis. View recordListen

195. Tippett, Sir Michael. View recordListen

196. Wilson, Mrs Helen on Annot Robinson. View recordListen

197. Hogan, Mrs Sue. View recordListen

199. Tollett, Mrs. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

200. Ashby, Dr Michael & Mrs. View recordListen (a)Listen (b)

201. Schaerli, Mrs Vera (aka Vera Craig). View recordListen

202. Billington-Greig, Miss Fiona. View recordListenListen (b)

203. Hopkinson, David and Diana. View recordListen  

204. Warner, Grizel, Lady. View recordListen   

205. McCall, Mrs Cicely. View recordListen

 

Unavailable interviews

These interviews aren't available due to technical issues with the recordings or because they are closed under the Data Protection Act. Check individual records for further details.  

View the catalogue records

35. Campbell, Miss Harriet. View record

45. Pepper, Miss Edith. View record

46. Laski, Mrs Frida. View record

47. Morson, Dr Basil & Mrs Pamela. View record

48. Munro, Anna. View record

105. Moore, Mrs Patricia & Barker, Miss Janet E. View record

111. Dunnett, Mrs Margaret. View record

112. Barker, Miss Janet & Fahy, Miss Margaret. View record

113 - Lytton, Lord. View record

170. Lovejoy, Mrs Mary. View record

176. Buckley, Miss Joan. View record

189. Dennis, Catherine & Harold. View record

191. Pole, Mrs Phoebe. View record

192. Pole, Mrs Phoebe & Mr. View record

198. Pankhurst, Rita. View record

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