Learning About Suffrage
Suffragette Stories visited Loddon in October 2018. Students at Langley School, learned about the Kenney Sisters and the lost Suffragette plantation at Eagle House, discussing why these women’s stories are lost from public consciousness.
We asked the students why it is important to learn about the past, and to consider how ‘fiction’ is different to ‘fact’. The allowed the students to explore the idea of ‘Historical Fiction’ and how writing can help us to connect with characters from the past, when we know little about them. The students engaged in various activities and creative writing exercises to help develop empathy and characterisation skills.
The students were able to examine copies of materials from the archive and were particularly interested in the collection of badges and pins, which included both pro and anti-suffrage material. The students were invited to consider what type of person would wear these badges or pins, and how it would feel to wear one; what emotions would they experience in putting one on, and revealing or concealing it. Students and teachers were also interested in Mary Blathwayt’s letters about the plantation from the 1950s.
At Loddon Library, we met adult members of the local community. A local historian brought a list of all the women from the parish of Loddon who voted for the first time in a county council election, in 1889. It was important to share and celebrate that women in Loddon had exercised their political right to vote in a council election, despite being yet unable to vote in general elections.
Students from Langley School interviewed adult members of the community about their experiences and how the role of women in society has changed over time.
In Loddon, all of the adult participants shared objects and memories which related to themes of work and the career possibilities open to women.
Christine Stewart shared memories of her career with British Airways, including her experience of sexist workplace policies and attitudes. Christine also shared how she experienced success in her career despite these obstacles and described the moment she felt she had ‘made it’; Christine brought in photographs of herself which documented this time.
Jennifer Forder described differences in the education received by boys and girls when she was at school and the career paths that were open to her and her peers upon leaving school, while Jan Bensley related what happened in her high school careers session.