Rare Suffragette Blouse
c. 1910

Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom was a national movement that began in 1872 when the National Society for Women's Suffrage  was formed, and later the more influential National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).The outbreak of the First World War led to a halting of much of the campaigning, with lobbying taking place discreetly, and in 1918 the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed, enfranchising women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications. The Representation of the People Act 1928 extended the voting franchise to all women over the age of 21.

The vendor, who lives in Glasgow, thinks perhaps her relative Miss Betsy Gooding, later, Mrs Elizabeth Malcolm Alexander was the wearer of the blouse.  The vendor is trying to find out more information from the  suitcases of letters and photos which have been left to them. 
The blouse was found in a suitacase belonging to Doris May Hunter who died in 1968, the grandmother of the vendor. Doris May's mother Mrs Alexandra Elizabeth Hunter (    - 1942) owned The Belhaven Hotel, 22-26 Bellhaven Terrace. It is not the hotel of this name which is open today off the Great Western Road.

This marvellous blouse is unusual in that is a black blouse rather than the usual white of the Suffragette, being lace perhaps it was for an evening function and would have been worn by a middle class women. Suffragette's liked to be depicted as feminine, in soft blouses and with their hair gently pinned up, to counter the stereotypes put forward by opponents that they were mannish.

In the Votes for Women newspaper for 15th April 1910 it mentions that the Scottish WSPU held a 3 day fund raising bazaar in Glasgow. The exhibition included a number of competitions including a Blouse Competition! Those wishing to enter the competition had to pay a fee of 6d and there were two categories of prize – one for the best blouse made from material not to exceed 5 shillings in value and the second with materials not to exceed 2/6d  in value. Both winners won prizes of goods to the value of a £1.

This blouse will be included in an exhibition at the Design Museum in London Women Fashion Power 29th October-26 April 2015.  It is still for sale but will have course have to stay in the exhibition until it finishes. 


of black machine Chantilly type lace, high collar and back opening with small satin covered buttons from neck to hem, the sleeves puffed and padded on the shoulders tapering to the cuff, the collar inserted with purple, green and pink satin ribbons, the sleeves similar but with wider tapering satin panels, satin shoulder pads, a black georgette camisole lining on shoestring straps.


Excellent. Does not look as if it has been worn.

Comments to read about Suffragettes in Glasgow.


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