The Representation of the People Act 1918 was the fourth significant reform of the electoral system in Britain and Ireland, which began with the Great Reform Act of 1832. A new exhibition from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) explores the history of suffrage, with particular emphasis on the struggle for women’s representation, including unique archival material.
THE SUFFRAGISTS’ CAMPAIGN
A suffragist was a person advocating the extension of voting rights, especially to women. Suffragists believed their goals could be achieved using peaceful means – including non-violent demonstrations, petitions, publications and the lobbying of MPs.
WOMEN, POLITICS AND MILITANCY
Suffragettes were women who sought the right to vote through militant action – including organised protests, interrupting political meetings, and attacking buildings. The word ‘suffragette’ was coined by The Daily Mail in 1906. The suffrage movement in Ulster was set against a backdrop of political upheaval, with successive Home Rule Bills aiming to bring about the self-government of Ireland within the United Kingdom.
WOMEN, CLASS AND WAR
The First World War broke out in August 1914. The militant suffragette campaign came to a cessation as a result, with all elements of society coming together in their focus on the War effort.
REFORM AND EQUALITY
The Representation of the People Act 1918, or Fourth Reform Act, came into force on 6 February 1918. Women over 30 years old could register for a Parliamentary vote as long as they (or their husband) qualified for a local government vote. The local government franchise was also extended to all single women over the age of 21 years on the same basis as men.
See the exhibition at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland until September 2018. Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday, 9am-4.45pm; Thursday, 10am-8.45 pm; Friday, 9am-4.45pm.
DateMonday, July 2, 2018 - 10:00
Tickets and further information
Tickets to the launch event are free but booking is essential, book here.
The exhibition ends September 2018.