A fascinating collection of protest posters are available to see for the very first time since 1918.
This year marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave women aged thirty and older and who passed a property qualification the right to vote. To mark this, the Cambridge University Library is displaying a collection of early 20th century protest posters that promoted women’s suffrage at the time. The posters are on display until March 31st.
The posters were originally distributed by suffragettes around 1910, protesting for women’s rights across all levels of society. Marion Phillips, librarian at Cambridge University at the time, received them in a brown parcel paper. A central figure in the Women’s Labour League at the time, she later became chief woman officer for the Labour Party and an MP in 1929.
It’s unusual to find protest posters like this in such good condition. According to Chris Burgess, the library’s exhibition officer, they’re not meant for safekeeping: ‘They were created to be plastered on walls, torn down by weather or political opponents.’
The powers highlight political issues of the time, which restricted women’s rights. One features a factory worker looking at a poster about regulations for women. Another features a female scholar, grouped together with other parts of society that are unable to vote.
See some of the historical posters here.