01/02/2018
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Free access to FindMyPast's new Suffrage Collection and birth, marriage, death and census records

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Family history website FindMyPast has announced it is offering free access to its essential records, including a new Suffrage Collection, to allow people to search for their female ancestors in celebration of the centenary of the Representation of the People 1918 Act.

To celebrate 100 years of votes for (some) women, FindMyPast will allow registered users to freely access its birth, marriage & death and census records, as well as its new suffrage collection - released in association with the National Archives.

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The Suffragette Collection

The Suffragette Collection will be completely free to search and explore until 8 March 2018, International Women's Day. The collection has been digitised from original records at Kew, and reveals the struggles endured by the movement’s most ardent supporters and highlights the State’s response as it attempted to contain them.  

The collection consists of more than 3,000 Metropolitan Police and Home Office records, many of which are now available online to the public for the first time. It has been launched to mark the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, the act that gave property owning women and female graduates over the age of 30 the right to vote for the first time in British history.

Suffragette Collection highlights

This resource brings together the stories of women from all classes who actively supported women’s suffrage, either by attending demonstrations and meetings or opting for militant “direct action”. Researchers can expect to find photographs, cabinet office papers, calendars of prisoners and Home Office papers on suffragette disturbances and prosecutions. The collection also includes:

  • an index of women arrested between 1906 and 1914
  • the official police watch list recording the details of over 1,300 militant suffragettes
  • reports of prison conditions, force-feeding, police surveillance and much more

Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast, said: “We are honoured to bring these important documents online for the first time. This new collection offers unique insight into the incredible sacrifices made by women who risked health, livelihood and liberty in the fight for the right to vote. The Suffragette Collection, together with Findmypast’s world class British & Irish family history collections, provides everyone with the opportunity to discover their family’s connection to this important historical movement.”

Women's suffrage campaign

Victoria Iglikowski, Principal Records Specialist - Diverse Histories, at The National Archives, said: “The National Archives collection offers a fascinating insight into the campaign for women’s suffrage. Our records often highlight personal experiences of female and male campaigners in their own words. Many of the files provide a first-hand account of demonstrations, court cases, imprisonment and force feeding. What is revealed is a highly organised, national movement from the smallest villages to the biggest cities, crossing class lines, in the first step towards voting equality”.

To start exploring the free records, visit FindMyPast.

The free access is available between 1 and 8 February and applies to British records, subject to FindMyPast's terms & conditions.

(image copyright Library of Congress, George Bain Collection)

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