The Anti-Suffrage League was founded by Mary Humphrey Ward in 1908, with the support of Lord Curzon and William Cremer. She later also became the editor of the journal, the Anti-Suffrage Review. The League collected signatures against women's enfranchisement and, in 1909, it was announced that 250,000 people had signed the petition.
It was claimed by Humphrey Ward and the Anti-Suffrage League that the vote was not desired by the majority of British women. As can be seen here, the League portrayed the suffrage campaigners as unfeminine and typically spinsters (at that time, a woman of 25 and over was regarded a spinster).
A badge given to members of the Anti-Suffrage League presented a notion of the 'ideal' or 'perfect' woman as filling the role of wife and mother.
This source contains several extracts from an article entitled 'The Opponent's View', published by Mrs Frederic Harrison in The Queen on September 26th 1908. The article outlined some of the reasons why the Anti-Suffrage League opposed the vote and also included an image of a badge given out to all members of the League.
- Do you think the anti-suffrage campaign gained as much press and public attention as the suffragette campaign?
- Are you surprised that people felt the need to oppose the suffrage campaign?
- What effect would this have had on the suffragette movement? How do you think the suffragettes would have reacted? And how might they have acted upon it?