Records of the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League
Pamphlets, leaflets, an associate card, a league manifesto and a constitution.
Correspondence by the London Society for Women's Suffrage on the topic of opposition to their work and a suffragist reply to WASL's manifesto is held in the latter's collection in the Women's Library reference GB 0106 2/LSW. Further papers related to the League are contained in material held at University College London in the Ward Family Papers (reference GB 0103 MS ADD 202)
This collection is open for consultation. Intending readers are advised to contact The Women's library in advance of their first visit.
Unpublished finding aids:
Administrative / biographical background:
The Women's National Anti-Suffrage League was established in 1908, at a time when there was a resurgence of support for the women's suffrage movement. An Anti-suffrage correspondence had taken place in the pages of the Times through 1906-1907, with further calls for leadership of the anti-suffrage movement being placed in the Spectator in February 1908. Possibly as early as 1907, a letter was circulated to announce the creation of a National Women's Anti-Suffrage Association and inviting recipients to become a member of the Central Organising Committee or a member. It was issued under the names of thirty peeresses who would become prominent anti-suffragists, as well as a number of peers and MPs. However, the first meeting of the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League only took place on the 21st July the following year at the Westminster Palace Hotel with Lady Jersey as the chairperson. Seventeen others were nominated to the central committee at this meeting, including Mrs Humphrey Ward as the chair of the Literary Committee, Gertrude Bell as the secretary, and Mrs Frederick Harrison, Miss Lonsdale, Violet Markham and Miss Beatrice Chamberlain as other members. Its aims were to oppose women being granted the parliamentary franchise, though it did support their having votes in local and municipal elections. The group established the Anti-Suffrage review from December 1908, gathered 337,018 signatures on an anti-suffrage petition, and founding the first local branch in Hawkenhurst in Kent. The first London branch was established in South Kensington under the auspices of Mary, Countess of Ilchester soon after while in May 1910 a Scottish branch was organised into the Scottish National Anti-Suffrage League by the Duchess of Montrose. By December of that year there were 26 branches or sub-branches in the country, a total which grew to 82 by April 1909 and 104 in July 1910. Similarly, it was announced that 2000 subscriptions had been received by December 1908, rising to 9000 in July 1909. In 1910, the group amalgamated with the Men's National League for Opposing Women's Franchise to form the National League for Opposing Women's Suffrage with Lord Cromer as president and Lady Jersey as Vice-President. In 1912 Lord Curzon and Lord Weardale became joint presidents and the organisation continued its activities and the publication of the Anti-Suffrage Review until 1918 when both came to an end as women's suffrage was granted.
Have you found an error with this catalogue description? Let us know