Malicious mischief? New National Records of Scotland exhibition tells the story of women's suffrage in Scotland


13 August 2018
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A new exhibition by National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh brings together records of the suffragettes and the Scottish justice system for the first time.

A new exhibition by National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh brings together records of the suffragettes and the Scottish justice system for the first time.

Protests and arrests, hunger strikes and force-feeding are revealed in government, court and prison records, as well as notes from prison attendants, doctors and other officials. Malicious Mischief? features some of the most active suffragettes in Scotland, such as Ethel Moorhead, Frances Gordon and Arabella Scott, who all underwent repeated imprisonment and force-feeding.

Read an exclusive article on force feeding and the suffragettes in the September/October issue of History Scotland.

Documents from a private collection on display for the first time shine a light on the wider suffragist movement in Scotland, including the diaries of prominent suffragist Lady Frances Balfour, as well as a wide range of letters, newspaper cuttings, trial papers and personal correspondence.

The campaign for the vote

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said: “Celebrating the centenary of some women securing the right to vote in the UK is an opportunity to reflect on the actions of the suffragists and the suffragettes, whose campaign for the vote marks an important milestone in women’s history. This exhibition demonstrates how much commitment these remarkable women showed to their cause.

“While we have a come a long way since 1918, much still needs to be done to achieve gender equality and create a fairer country for all. This anniversary is a great occasion to inject new momentum into supporting women’s contribution to Scottish public, political and cultural life.”

Anne Slater, acting Chief Executive, NRS, said: “This fascinating collection of documents from NRS archives offers insight into the lives and activities of prominent figures in the women’s suffrage movement in Scotland, particularly their many confrontations with the justice system.”

Malicious Mischief? is at National Records of Scotland until 31 August 2018. General Register House, Matheson Dome, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh; website. (image ref JC26/1913/90/NRS - copyright National Records of Scotland)