February 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act which allowed all men and some women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time.
Manchester was an influential place in helping get the vote for women and is considered to be the birthplace of the suffrage movement.
Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and her family lived at 62 Nelson Street, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, now The Pankhurst Centre.
In 1903 they set up the National Women’s Social and Political Union and led the suffrage campaign to get the vote, with the slogan Deeds not Words.
Now The Pankhurst Centre and Manchester City Council are calling on the women of Manchester to submit their stories, memories and experiences for the Women’s Words project – part of next year’s celebration of the centenary of the vote for women.
The project will create a living legacy of women with any link to the city. Entries can be up to 1000 words in length and all forms are welcome – as long as they are the author’s own words.
Manchester women are invited to submit their written stories about living and working in Manchester by Friday 24th November. So whether you want to submit a story, pen some poetry, put down some memories, even just create a list, why not give it a go?
“The women of Manchester have always had a compelling and thought-provoking story to tell,” says Gail Heath of The Pankhurst Trust.
“Through this project we are bridging the worlds of the those who fought to be heard over 100 years ago and the lives of women today who we want to use their voices to tell and share their stories.”
And you can get creative with textiles, letterpress and cyanotype, thanks to regular events taking place at Central Library and other venues in association with the project.
There will also be collaborative storytelling sessions and an opportunity for those who feel they cannot write well in English to have their stories retold and written down by someone else.
A selection of the pieces submitted will feature in a reimagination of the original The Suffragette magazine, which was published by the Women’s Social and Political Union to support their campaign.
The modern version will be a handcrafted limited edition art piece that will be edited and curated by artist Lucy May Schofield. Copies will be available to buy from Central Library and local Manchester Libraries and the Pankhurst Centre Museum, with an e-book version made available through Manchester Libraries’ BorrowBox service.
“The Women’s Words project will support and encourage Manchester women to develop essential skills and the confidence to share their experiences of life in our city,” said Councillor Sarah Judge of Manchester City Council.
“Historically, women’s writing has not always had the attention it deserved. This new archive will help us to preserve, celebrate and learn from the fascinating stories that Manchester’s amazing women have to tell.”
The project, supported by Arts Council England, will close with two public events – an exhibition and gala on 5th February 2018 at Manchester’s Central Library.
Women’s Words will be shared online here.