Update - 30. Dec. 2017:
Markk is planning to join but with some deviations/additions to the list of books - deviations/addition that look great:
- Eleanor Flexner: Century of Struggle - The Women's Rights Movement in the United States
- Ellen Carol DuBois: Feminism and Suffrage
- Jad Adams: Women and the Vote: A World History.
I've created a Reading List for details of all the books I am considering* for this project, and I will update this post throughout the year with links to articles and books read for the project.
* Obviously, there are LOTS of books on the subject but my selection is limited to the books I am looking to read or consider for the project.
2018 will mark the centenary of women gaining the right to vote in Germany and Britain. I have long been fascinated by the history of women's suffrage and thought it would be a great way to celebrate the anniversary by looking at the lead up, the campaigns, the people involved in the movement.
Of course, this is a topic that could easily consume a whole year of reading by itself - and quite rightly so - but chances are that I will want to read other books, too. So, I will try and direct my reading towards 4 main texts - each profiling the struggle for women's right to vote in Germany, Britain, the US, and one specifically on Scotland - because the movement here (Scotland) actually differed slightly to the more famous one in England (and because it was written by my old university prof.)
As one book always (always!!) leads to another, I expect that there will be a few other books (that I already own, thus chipping away at Mt. TBR) and links that will make an appearance during this reading project (which I will list below as I go along).
Illustration for Puck magazine by Harry Grant Dart (1908) - found here, which is also an excellent article (in The Appendix) about the illustration itself.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for sending me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
I’m not sure why but as I read this book I realised I had read much more about World War II than about the Great War, and having a degree in American Studies, I had read a fair bit about American women’s war efforts (during WWII) but knew very little about what women had done during WWI, other than through some war novels where they would appear as nurses, but little else. That was one of the reasons why I was interested in this book from the Pen & Sword’s catalogue. At a time when women didn’t have the vote but were fighting for it, the war and the changes it brought had an enormous impact on the lives of British women (and women in general).
The book is divided into a number of chapters that after setting up the scene (Chapter 1. Women in General), discuss the different organisations and roles women took up during the war. We have chapters dedicated to women who became munition workers (yes, it was not only Rosie the Riveter who took up that task, and it’s amazing to think that women whose roles were so restricted at the time took to heavy factory work with such enthusiasm, despite the risks involved, although there was fun to be had too, like the women’s football teams organised at some of the factories), the Voluntary Air Detachments (Agatha Christie was employed by the VAD as a nurse and dispenser, and it seems her knowledge of medications and substances was to prove very handy in her writing career), The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, to reflect Queen Mary’s patronage), Women’s Legion and Other Women’s Organisations (including some like the Women’s Land Army, Women Police Volunteer, The Women’s Forage Corps [that required a great deal of physical strength]).
The chapter entitled Individual Women of the Great War includes fascinating stories, most of them worthy of a whole book, like those of Dorothy Lawrence, who dressed as a man and became a soldier although never actually fought, several spies, among them one of the best known and remembered Edith Louisa Cavell, a nurse, and perhaps my favourite, Flora Sanders, who was born in Yorkshire and actually fought in the war and became a Captain in the Serbian Army (and yes, in this case they knew she was a woman but did not seem to mind very much). Another favourite of mine has to be Violet Constance Jessop ‘the unsinkable’ who worked as a stewardess in a number of liners and survived the thinking of three big ships, including the Titanic’s. That never put her off and she worked at sea her whole career and died of old age.
There is a chapter dedicated to those who lost their lives during the war (and were not included in one of the previous chapters). The authors have checked a number of archives and list as many details as are available for these 241 women. For some, there’s only a name, date, and age (and where they were serving), for others there is more information. Reading through the list, that I am sure will be of great help to researchers looking for information on the subject, I was surprised by how many nurses died of what now would be considered pretty trivial illnesses (influenza, many of pneumonia, some of the nurses in far away locations died of dysentery, some of undiagnosed illnesses, or appendicitis) making evident not only how much medical science has advanced but also the precarious and exhausting conditions under which they worked, putting their duty before their own health. Quite a number went down with ships that had either been bombed or had hit mines, and some were unfortunate enough to be killed during raids when they were back home on a permit. In some cases, families lost several members to the war and one can only imagine the effects that must have had on their surviving relatives.
The last chapter mentions Queen Mary and Princess Mary’s war efforts, which had a great impact on monetary donations and on enlistment of both men and women. The conclusion reminds us that women had a great role to play during the Great War, both at home and indeed close to the action.
The book is well researched and combines specific data with personal stories, making it of interest to both researchers and readers who want to know more about that historical period, in particular about women’s history. Some chapters, like the one dedicated to individual women, are a good starting point to encourage further reading and engage the curiosity of those not so familiar with the topic.
A fitting homage to those women, who, as the authors write in the conclusion, should also be honoured on Remembrance Day.
as I got further into Suffrajitsu, I fell further in love. Not only does it have some BA women doing BA things, but I love the dialogue. Now, I will take this time to remind potential readers that this is an alternate history and events did not go down like this. However, this graphic novel is less about the suffragette movement than it is about the actions of these specific suffragists. It's the kind of graphic novel that you have to know a little about the subject matter to really enjoy but the little that is required is totally covered by the Suffragette movie that came out last year, which can be streamed on Amazon Video here. I might be a fan of this movie. It just does a great job of not romanticizing one side or the other. It shows the hardships the women went through without over glorifying it and lets the viewer make their own decisions about their actions. There are also plenty of books that cover this part of history.
Getting back to Suffrajitsu, I enjoyed it, particularly after realizing what it was. This is not a graphic novel overview of the historical events. It's just a set of comics that use some of these women as characters. It's a fun read but not the kind that a reader should take their history from. Definitely fiction. Definitely interesting. Definitely fun. I loved the main characters. I've known quite a few women like this. They could be sitting in a bar talking about anything and I would love to read about it.
We had a heads up it'd be bad today and so stayed home from work - but I didn't really think it'd be snowing ALL day. (Remember, I'm the person who's not lived in a place with snow for decades now. I've lived in Kansas and Massachusetts, but you grow out of practice with snow and stuff.) So I'm about to leave the computer and go back to where I spent my morning - snuggled up with a book under a blanket, with the curtain open so I can see the snow fall and appreciate what I'm not going to walk through outdoors. Also I have several Cadbury Creme Eggs. Am very pleased about this.
I'm assured that all of this doesn't mean we can't make it out of our area and in to work tomorrow, but I feel skeptical.
Have been hopping from this book about Frances Marion to various Le Fanu ghost stories. Ghost stories just go with snow somehow - if I had a fireplace with a fire they'd be perfect. But Marion - well, I'm quickly becoming a fangirl. She's very focused on pursuing her writing in a field that's new to her, and doing it by herself. Not to mention being divorced twice by her mid twenties.
In 1915 she participated in the march for suffrage parade in NYC - historical background:
(Both links have photos of the parade. Though not of the hecklers - it was not always a safe thing to take part in these, and in some cases there was violence. And the police weren't necessarily going to help out.)
p. 55: "Francis and friends like Adela Rogers had marched in parades before, yet they nursed a nagging suspicion that women were "trading superiority for equality." Women had been voting in California since 1911 and it seemed such an "obvious right" it was almost insulting to have to convince others."
It's always good to remember that no matter the state of women's rights there were always times when practical women would ask "is this really necessary - it's clear we're capable." Also that, in the early days everyone still clung to the idea that "women are special" (the whole putting the gender on a pedestal, sacredness of motherhood, etc.) and that that attitude could be a positive. (Nope, for the most part it tended to be used to argue that women should stick to "their world" - meaning wife/mother/housekeeping.)
I also forgot the whole part about many states allowing women to vote in regional elections long before the national law passed. Which reminds me I have a paper book on women's suffrage I've been meaning to read. Meanwhile this book on Marion mentions SO many interesting women in the arts - and as usual I'm noticing a lot of them don't have their own biographies. Not that I'd have time to read them all, of course.
Ok, off to my blanket and Cadbury eggs!