Paper 2 Notes Votes for Women

BRITAIN 1906-1918
Liberal Reforms
The Suffragettes
The Home Front during the First World War
Paper 2 consists of questions which will test the following historical skills:
(Q1) Source Comprehension-(e.g. why was this poster produced
in 1915? Use the source and your knowledge to explain your
o Analyse the source carefully
o Refer to the details of the poster to support your answer
o Do NOT spend too long on this question-it is only worth 6
(Q2) How useful is a source or is one source more useful than another?
o Read the caption underneath the source, then focus on the source carefully
o Explain what is useful about the source, why is it of value, what does it tell
us etc?
o Consider the problems with the source? Is it biased or one sided?
o Even if the source is biased, it can still be very useful to the historian (e.g
The Battle of the Somme Film is an excellent example of Government
(Q3) How far do two sources agree or disagree? (e.g. How far do these two sources
disagree about why men volunteered to join the army?)
o There will be some areas of agreement and disagreement between the two
o Quote from the sources to support your answer
o You must address the issue of ‘HOW FAR’ at the end of your answer.
o Do NOT spend too long on this question-it is only worth 6 marks
(Q4) How reliable is a source or is one source more reliable than the other (e.g. Study
sources F and D. Is one source more reliable than the other about attitudes in Britain
towards the war?)
To asses the reliability of a source:
Always read the caption underneath first
Consider: who wrote it
When it was written
Why it was written
Is it fact or opinion
Read carefully and closely the content of each source
Come to a well judged conclusion
(Q5) Why do sources disagree? (e.g. Study sources G and H. Why do these sources
give different views of what it was like in the trenches?)
o Again read the caption underneath each source.
o Consider the N O P (Nature, Origins and Purpose) of each source:
o Nature: What is it? (e.g. is it an advertisement, extract from a speech/book or a
o Origins: When was it produced?
o Purpose: Why was it produced?
o Come to a judgement about WHY not HOW the sources disagree.
(Q6) The final question requires you to study all the sources and use your own
knowledge. (e.g. Study all the sources. ‘Men volunteered for the army because they
thought it would be an adventure’ Using the sources and your own knowledge how
far do you agree with this statement?
o This final question is worth 12 marks! Make sure you leave enough time to
answer this question properly, you should spend about 25 minutes on this!
o Write a quick plan in rough
o Ensure you use both the sources and your own knowledge. If you do not, you
will lose half of the marks available.
o Try to group the sources around the key question, do they agree or disagree
with the statement, or do they offer a different perspective?
o Select some brief quotes to show how they agree or disagree
o Include your own knowledge
o Address the How far part of the question.
Actions of Campaigners
Since 1860s – there were early campaigners for the vote
for women known as suffragists
1897 – Millicent Fawcett sets up the National Union of
Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS)
What else was happening?
Up to 1900 Parliament
received 15 bills to give
women the vote and 15 times it
Direct Action Begins
1903 – Emmeline Pankhurst founds the Women’s
Social and Political Union (WSPU) who became known
as suffragettes.
June 1908 – Direct Action Begins.
Following a march, suffragettes SMASH WINDOWS in
Downing Street and chain themselves to railings
1907, 1908, 1909 see
introduction of suffrage bills
that fail.
October 1908 – Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter
Christabel are sent to PRISON.
1908 – Herbert Asquith
becomes Prime Minister. He
is against votes for women.
Late 1908 – Millicent Fawcett and the Suffragists reject
the violent tactics of the Suffragettes and a split between
the NUWSS and the WSPU begins.
1909 – More Suffragettes sent to prison. Some go on
Government respond by FORCE-FEEDING.
Violence Intensifies
1910 – WSPU calls a truce while ‘Conciliation Bill is
introduced’. When it fails, the Suffragette protests turn
into BLACK FRIDAY where police physically and
sexually assault protesters.
1911 – Another truce over the ‘Conciliation Bill’ which
again breaks down.
BILL’ is introduced to give
the vote – it is abandoned
1911 – The ‘Conciliation Bill’
is reintroduced but not
supported by the government.
1912 – It fails
1912 – MASSIVE CAMPAIGN of window smashing.
WSPU headquarters are raided. Mass hunger strikes
take place in prisons.
to release hunger-strikers when
1913 – Violence increases – BOMBINGS, BURNINGS, they were ill and rearrest them
when better.
June 1913 – Emily Davison kills herself by running out
in front of the King’s horse at the Derby
1914 – WSPU violence escalates and public opinion is
firmly against them.
The War
Sept 1914 – Both movements stop activities and help
the war effort
1915 the WSPU organised the ‘Women’s Right to Serve’
march, renamed their newspaper Britannica and
changed the name of their organisation to the Women’s
The suffragettes also insisted that conscription was
introduced and handed out white feathers to men not in
military uniform.
Sylvia Pankhurst, a pacifist opposes the war.
The NUWSS helped the war effort by setting up an
employment register and recruiting many men to replace
the women who had gone to the front.
The NUWSS continue to campaign for the vote.
Sept 1914 Outbreak of war
1915-the government
considers changing the
electoral system to allow
soldiers serving abroad to vote.
1916 Women show themselves
to be capable and responsible
by taking over men’s’ jobs
after conscription is
1917-The House of Commons
passes the Representation of
the People Act. All men over
the age of 21 and women over
the age of 30 gain the vote and
the right to become MPs.
1918 the Representation of the
People Act becomes law. Out
of an electorate of 21 million,
8 million were women.
Britain 1906-1914 Revision Notes
Votes for Women
What were the arguments for and against female suffrage?
The vote will improve men’s
moral and sexual behaviour.
Women have special skills and
expertise. They can help
parliament make better laws on
issues such as education and the
home where they are specialists.
Arguments for
Female suffrage
Women could already vote in local
elections. They serve on local
government bodies, such as
education committees and Poor Law
boards. They have shown they can
be trusted with the vote.
Parliament’s decisions affect both
men and women. Voting is a ‘right’ to
which women are entitled.
Women have had increasing
in education and workParliament’s decisions affect both men and
the vote
is a ‘right’
which women are
Women pay taxes just like men they
should be allowed to influence MPs on
how that money is spent.
Britain is not a true democracy
until women have the vote. By
1914 women had the vote in
many other countries including
the USA, New Zealand, parts of
Australia and the Isle of Man.
Giving respectable women the vote
would also encourage them to
develop their careers and neglect their
family duties.
It was believed that women
were guided more by their
womb than their brain. Women
were seen as too emotional to
be trusted with the vote.
Women and men had
separate spheres. Women
were suited to the private
sphere as home-makers and
Many women did not want the
vote. Only a small fraction of
women joined the various
suffrage societies
As it was mainly middle class
women who campaigned for the
vote, opponents of female
suffrage claimed these women
would have little interest in laws
to help ordinary working people.
Female suffrage
Not entitled
The existing political
Other problems
system in Britain
worked well. Allowing
women the vote could
upset the stability of the
whole system.
As women could not fight in the
army or navy, some argued that
they did not deserve the vote.
How effective were the activities
The NUWSS campaigned for the vote using
peaceful methods. They put pressure on
parliament, issued petitions and organised
The WSPU used both peaceful and illegal
methods of campaign known as militancy.
They aimed to make women’s suffrage an
issue which the government could not ignore.
A women getting arrested for the cause was
front page news whereas processions and
of the suffragists and the suffragettes?
By 1900 the NUWSS had achieved some success
by gaining the support of many Liberal MPS,
some Conservative MPS and the new Labour
However, neither the Conservative nor Liberal
Party was prepared to adopt female suffrage as
party policy, so it never got priority in parliament.
The government dealt with protesters harshly
with protesters and initially responded to hunger
striking by force-feeding. This was a painful
experience and generated some sympathy from
the general public.
However, the suffragettes despite their efforts did
petitions could be ignored. Suffragettes
attacked property and people and when
arrested went on hunger strike as a protest
against the authorities refusal to treat them as
political prisoners.
not succeed in winning over the press and
majority of men in the country. To opponents of
female suffrage militancy appeared to confirm the
idea that women were too emotional to be trusted
with the vote.
Militancy also created divisions within the votes
for women movement. As violence increased
after 1908 the NUWSS publicly opposed the
actions of the suffragettes as they felt their
actions were putting off moderate MPS who
might otherwise back their cause.
Did the violent methods of the suffragettes help?
Violence gave the government an excuse not to
Female suffrage became front page news and it
give in to the suffragettes. They could argue it was
was brought to the attention of the public and the
wrong to give into violence.
Decades of suffragists campaigning had achieved
The violence turned moderate men, especially
nothing but empty promises from MPS.
moderate MPs, against the ideas of votes for
women. This explains why bills in the house of
commons were always defeated.
The government only became more serious about
The violence seemed to confirm the view that
passing a female suffrage bill after militancy had
women were not responsible enough to have the
vote. They were too hysterical.
Asquith was already firmly against votes for
In 1913 and 1914, the NUWSS was growing in
women, so violent methods did not make things
popularity at the expense of the WSPU.
any worse.
As women actively challenged the separate spheres Increased militancy divided the moment after 1908,
idea by taking to the streets and campaigning, the
when the NUWSS began to oppose violent methods
idea of women having the vote no longer seemed so of campaign.
strange. People were gradually getting used to the
idea and beginning to accept it.
How did women contribute to the war effort?
Both suffrage organisations (WSPU and NUWSS) helped the government in recruiting
and organising women workers.
All suffragettes were released from prison.
Members of the WSPU worked to persuade men to join the army and distributed white
feathers to men not in uniform.
Women started to work in munitions factories. This was tiring and dangerous work
often resulting in the yellowing of the skin, digestion problems, blood poisoning and
even brain damage.
After conscription was introduced, many women took over the jobs left vacant by men
serving at the front. Women occupied many different jobs working as: bus conductors,
postal workers, grave diggers, road layers, welders, steel workers and bus drivers. A
Women’s Volunteer Police Service was set up in most of the major cities.
Overall 1.6 million women took part in war work.
The first Women’s Army Unit was formed (the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps
WAAC), although women were not involved in front line fighting. However, many
women worked as nurses in medical station near the front line.
Why were some women given the vote in 1918?
The vote was won because of
war work
The vote was won because of
campaigns before the war
The war gave MPS a convenient The government were worried
excuse to give up their opposition that the Suffragettes would restart
to votes for women. The war
their campaign.
work had destroyed many of their
Many men were impressed by
women’s contribution to the war
effort. They had shown they were
mature, sensible and capable.
The argument that women could
not take part in the defence of
their country had been destroyed.
The vote was won because of
other reasons
Lloyd George replaced Asquith
as Prime Minster in 1916. He
was more sympathetic to the idea
of votes for women.
Reform of the existing system
was needed because of soldiers
who had lost the right to vote by
being abroad for a long time.
This became an opportunity to
include women’s rights.
Conservative MPs were glad
women under 30 would not get
the vote. They had feared that
young working class women
would vote Labour.
Liberal and Labour MPS were
glad all women over 30 were
getting the vote. This meant that
working class, as well as middle
and upper class women could
vote, so they would not all vote
Political Parties’ attitudes towards votes for women
Conservative Party View
Although there was more opposition to it among the Conservatives, as was perhaps to be expected, a
number of leading Conservatives supported it, including the party leader, Balfour.
Labour Party View
The Labour Party supported the suffrage movement and leading figures such as Kier Hardie were deeply
involved in the issue.
Liberal Party View
A substantial section of the Liberal Party, quite possibly the majority, supported it, as did many leading
Liberals, including Churchill, Lloyd George, and Sir Edward Grey.