Learning about Suffrage
Suffragette Stories travelled to Wymondham in July 2018, where we worked with students from Wymondham High Academy.
We introduced a group of students from mixed year-groups to the project and the Kenneys, and the students engaged in various activities and creative writing exercises to help develop empathy and characterisation skills. We also discovered that the school Librarian, Emily Davison-Cripps, was both named after and related to Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who famously lost her life after being hit by the King’s Horse in the 1913 Epsom derby.
This discovery prompted discussion with the students on the subject of Emily Wilding Davison’s death, and whether this was intentional or unintentional, as well as Emily’s motivation for being so close to the King’s horse that day, and the way that her death presented by the WSPU, to rally support for their cause.
The students examined images of objects held in the Kenney archive. Students were fascinated by a badge promoting the boycott of the 1911 census, which led to discussions around the different types of protest employed by the suffragettes, ranging from marches and petitions, to creative forms of civil disobedience, such as the census boycott, to more extreme militancy. The students were able to consider what types of people might engage in these different types of protest, and what their motivations and inhibitions would have been. We also discussed the camaraderie between the Suffragettes engaging in protests, particularly via the census boycott, describing how one Suffragette, Winifred Mayo, who potentially once visited Wymondham, spent census-night ice-skating and spending time with her mother and grandmother, who both also boycotted the census.
Our third workshop in Wymondham took place at Wymondham library, where students from Wymondham High Academy interviewed adult members of the community about their experiences and about objects that they had brought with them.
Sue Traferri brought in a selection of ‘Giles’ annuals, which were collections of cartoons that were printed in the daily press, over the latter half of the 20th century. Sue had marked pages with cartoons that she felt conveyed public opinion about the role of women in society at the time. The students discussed with Sue her views on career opportunities that were available to women when Sue left school, compared with her observations about the present day. One particular cartoon which Sue had marked, and which prompted some discussion, was on the subject of the ordination of female Anglican priests, which was
debated and finally permitted by the Church of England during the 1990s; prompting the television series ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ to be aired.
Emily Davison-Cripps, school librarian at Wymondham High Academy, was interviewed by a student and was shown an image of a ribbon that was once worn by Emily Wilding Davison, her relative. This was a very emotive moment for both teacher and student.
Caroline Eadsby shared with a student how her great grandmother secretly attended WSPU meetings in Manchester, at the time the Pankhurst family was active there, taking a hat pin and pepper to meetings.
Writing and Curation
Students selected objects and memories to display in Wymondham Library, and which materials from the Kenney archive they wished to place alongside them.
The students chose to select objects and memories which represented themes of Activism, Militancy, and Work. They also felt it was important to include details about Emily Wilding Davison, having a local connection to Emily Davison Cripps.
Suffragette stories was on display at Wymondham in September 2018.
Some students also worked on creative writing with UEA MFA students Victoria Proctor and David Restaino, who worked with them to build authentic suffragette characters, thinking about motivations and circumstances. Others learned the art of speechwriting, using historical speeches by women.