Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd May 2014

In the Tube station this morning I see a poster for the Museum of London, it shows a ‘votes for women’ image within a collage. I feel a small part of a zeitgeist.


Museum of London poster on the Tube Image: Mary Branson

I return to the archives and continue looking through the Serjeant at Arms reports.

I come across a particular report of the arrest of several women. What strikes me is their varied ages and how many different parts of the country they have travelled from. Once again I made a mental note that I must find a way to represent all women.


List of women arrested in Parliament, 18 Feb 1909. Parliamentary Archives, HC/SA/SJ/10/12/8

I also come across reports of Emily Davison’s activities – messages she left for Herbert Asquith, attached to chalk missiles. The notes have quite a menacing tone. I imagine she was a very direct and formidable woman.



Police Report on Emily Wilding Davison, 23 June 1910. Parliamentary Archives, HC/SA/SJ/10/12/27

Looking further into the archives, I see how over the period 1907-1914 the protests within Parliament seem to become more inventive. I’m drawn to the Women’s Freedom League’s ways of engaging with the building and the MPs. I can identify with these types of protests. I think that if I was to be around at the time I would be part of the WFL – they seem to be the creative strand of the movement.


Fake invitation by the Women’s Freedom League, 22 July 1913. Parliamentary Archives, HC/SA/SJ/10/12/48


Siege of Westminster leaflet, 13 July 1909. Parliamentary Archives, HC/SA/SJ/10/12/25

One of the questions that goes around in my head as I see the many refusals by Asquith to see deputations of women is: How many petitions were put before the government before we got the vote? I ask Mari. She says no one knows, as the actual petitions are not kept, but there are records – and if I like I could find out. As I am just about to finish looking at the Serjeant at Arms reports, this seems a good place to go next. Mari shows me how to find the reports and what to search for. I order up my first batch of records for tomorrow. I’m excited to find out the answer.

Come back on Tuesday 9 August 2016, when Mary meets Irene Cockroft and Kate Willoughby…