Suffragette Stories

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About Suffragette Stories

In 2018, the University of East Anglia and Norfolk County Council's Library and Information Service were awarded lottery funding, as part of our plans to celebrate the centenary of some women being able to vote in a parliamentary election for the first time.

What did we do?

Digital exhibition of suffragette archive material

The University of East Anglia holds the archives of leading suffragettes, Annie Kenney and her younger sister, Jessie Kenney.

During 2018, we digitised 100 items from the archive and made them available via the Web for the very first time. The vast majority of these items are also available under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license. To view the items, you can either take a guided tour of the exhibits, or browse the entire archive

Community workshops and library exhibitions

Materials from the archive were taken to schools and to public libraries throughout Norfolk to inspire conversations about the changing nature of Women's roles in the last century. 

School children interviewed older members of the community about their experiences. These fascinating intergenerational workshops resulted in exhibitions within public libraries in Wroxham, Loddon, Great Yarmouth, Wymondham and Thetford. These events culminated in a public event and larger exhibition held in Norwich throughout December 2018. Click here for more info.

Creative writing anthology

To remember Annie's Arboretum, the suffragette tree plantation at Eagle House in Bath, destroyed in the 1960s, school children and other community members were encouraged to write short stories. These are being published throughout 2019 to commemorate each and every suffragette who had a tree planted in their name. Click here for more info.

About Us

Project Leader, Jos Smith and Sarah Hassan

Project Co-ordinator and Writer in Residence, Fiona Sinclair

Project Co-ordinator, Kate Cooper, Norfolk Library Service

Digitisation of the Archive

Digitisation and Rights Clearance Assistant, Annie Kelly

Curatorial Assistant, Stanislava Dikova

Digital Assistant, Jessica Kok

Project Manager, Digitisation and Rights Clearance, Justine Mann

We would like to thank transcribers Zoe Kelly, Hazel Brain, Jules Robbins, Pam Sayle and others for spending so many hours deciphering difficult handwriting and making these fascinating documents available to a new generation.

It’s not only we that are thanking them; descendants of suffragettes included in our exhibition, wish to pass on their thanks: Helen Pankhurst, great niece of Christabel Panhurst; the Constance Lytton Estate (Henry Lytton Cobbold, Constance’s great nephew); Mark Blathwayt, descendant of Mary Blathwayt; Anthony Dickinson, great nephew of Annie and Jessie Kenney, all wish to pass on their heartfelt thanks.  

Other acknowledgements and thanks

The list is long!

Norfolk Libraries

Thanks to staff in libraries at: Norwich, Cromer, Wymondham, Wroxham, Loddon, Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn and Thetford who allowed us to take over, in some cases, most of their libraries to hold our oral history workshops.  They were the perfect community space for different generations to meet.  

School teachers and school librarians: 

Melissa Collin, Cromer Academy 

Emily Davison-Cripps, Wymondham Academy, who turned out to a descendant of Emily Wilding Davison.  

Lauren Mayhew, Broadland Ormiston Academy, who in addition to workshops in Wroxham and Hoveton, also arranged for her pupils to come to the National Centre for Writing here in Norwich to curate this exhibition and hold a creative writing session.  

Jane Palmer, East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Great Yarmouth 

Jenny Corser, Langley School, Loddon. 

Jessica Langlois, Theford Academy  

Also The National Centre for Writing for providing us with space and promoting our project.  

Thank you to Stella Evans, one of our older community participants in Cromer, who used her (UEA) history MA to help students curate the Cromer exhibition. 

Thank you to Elvie Herd, a local historian who we met in Loddon library, who provided us with a wealth of material about women's suffrage in Loddon, who gave us sashes and also continues to work with us in researching the lesser known suffragettes in the plantation. We were only able to find out about Clara Paley and Georgia von Donop (amongst others) because of her research skills.  

Thanks to Alan Caig Wilson and Elizabeth (Liz) Feretti from the Young Walter Scott Prize who trained staff and volunteers in how to use creative writing to develop empathy with historical figures. Liz also provided invaluable advice on lesson plans, as did Bianca Smith of Langley School.  

Creative Writing Tutors, Editors and Oral History Volunteers: 

David Restraino, who volunteered in Wymondham. Sarah Hopkinson and Peter Goulding who volunteered in Thetford. Lotte Lewis, who volunteered in Great Yarmouth. 

Yin Lim, who volunteered in Wroxham and Norwich and who also led creative writing workshops at our public events on Heritage Open Days and as part of our contributions to the First World War events, held at the Forum. 

Ben Morrison, who volunteered in Cromer and Thetford. Victoria Proctor, who volunteered in Wymondham, Wroxham and Thetford. 

Writers - Thank you to all the authors, young and old, who have allowed us to recreate 'Annie's Arboretum' in stories. Encourage everyone to follow the site as we publish them over the next nine months or so. 

We are incredibly grateful to descendants of copyright holders represented in our digital exhibition and especially Henry Cobbold Lytton; Mark Blathwayt and Helen Pankhurst for giving copyright clearance to enable publication of such fascinating letters between these suffragette friends and colleagues.

We are also indebted to the descendants of Annie and Jessie Kenney who generously agreed clearance to share material from the archive authored by the two sisters. Our special thanks to Anthony Dickinson, Annie and Jessie Kenney's Great Nephew, for making that process so straightforward.  

Also thanks to those at UEA including: Bridget Gillies, Laura Potts, Polly Harrison, Nathan Hamilton, Georgina Pope and Nadine Zubair.