Source 3 - What does Women's Suffrage mean?

Millicent Fawcett, one of the founding leaders of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), was born in 1847 and at 18 married the MP Henry Fawcett. She was a member of the London National Society of Women's Suffrage from its foundation in 1867 and became a well-known speaker on the subject. From 1893, she presided over a committee formed to campaign on behalf of local suffrage societies. This group eventually led to the formation of the NUWSS in 1897.

Unlike the more militant Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the NUWSS was committed to constitutional and peaceful methods of campaigning and had a membership of 50,000 by 1913. Even at its peak, the WSPU only had a membership of 2000.

While members of the NUWSS feared that the direct action of the WSPU would alienate potential supporters for women's suffrage, its leaders, Millicent Fawcett among them, did not always condemn the violent tactics of the sister campaign.

This source promotes the message of the suffrage campaign and, at the same time, encourages people to become a member of the NUWSS. It was hoped that, by clearly setting out the reasons why women were entitled to the vote, support and sympathy could be gained for the cause. Logical argument and peaceful debate were the hallmarks of the NUWSS campaign.

  • This source is similar to Source 2 and resembles a manifesto. It also sets out the reasons why the NUWSS chose to campaign. What differences do you notice between sources 2 and 3?
  • Is this source an effective way of communicating with potential supporters? Do you think it would be more or less effective than a manifesto?

Author / Creator: National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
Publisher: National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
Date: 1913
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: c.121.g.1, Vol 1