A tweet from Mike Jones last night reminded me that I still haven’t written any updates on the Suffrage petition project. A timely reminder to keep it alive and a neat parallel about staying vigilant about women’s history.
A quick recap. I wanted to explore ways of using the data in the Women’s Suffrage Petition Database to animate some of the stories and I enlisted friend and historian Sarah Green to help. The petition project is on hiatus until next summer, but Sarah and I did make some progress (before retiring to the pub to discuss our findings).
Using our neighbourhood (Abbotsford), we took a print out of all of the houses where women had signed the petition and quite literally took to the streets. We were curious to see how many of the houses were still standing and, in a neighbourhood with so much heritage housing not surprised to find most of them were. It was slow going, we had Alfie (aka Historydog) along. It was windy and hot.
There was a power in standing in the street, looking at the signatures and there are more questions than answers at this stage. Why a whole strip of houses signed but nothing on the other side of the street? Who were the women pressing the pavement to collect the signatures? Were they given any training, a script? Answering those will need some time in the archives and some conversations with the right people.
We also spent quite a bit of time bemusing our neighbours, loudly playing homage to Jane Anderson, Annie Victoria Bakewell, Eliza Moran, Annie Muntz, Georgina Boyle, Mary Ann Brooks, Marie Mills, Susanna Hocking, Nellie Howard, Louise Northcott, Maria Jolliffes, Lizzie Keele, …… (just to name a few).