Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Women in Local Government 1907 and 2007

On 6 February I posted an item entitled "Votes For Women : 1918, 1870 or Earlier?" based upon the book "Ladies Elect : Women in English Local Government 1865-1914" by Patricia Hollis (Claredon Press, Oxford 1987).

Although I had been obliged to borrow the book via the Public Library loan system, I have now been informed that there is to be a limited reprint centred around the relaunch in Sheffield on 10 March of an organisation entitled the "Women's Local Government Society" (WLGS).


The original WLGS emerged in the late 1880's and existed in various forms until around the time of the First World War. It became a strong campaigning force, lobbying MPs, but also giving practical support to women to enable them to seek election to local government.

1907 Qualification of Women Act

This year marks the centenary of a major success by the WLGS in helping to achieve one of their major objectives via the above Act of Parliament. This Act clarified that women ratepayers were able to be elected to Borough and County Councils. This followed years of uncertainty and confusion, which included challenges in the courts when women first tried to stand for the London County Council, plus women losing their influence on education boards when the free-standing boards I described in my earlier blog were absorbed into newly established councils. Women also lost places when towns grew and obtained Borough status.

As I described previously, women had been elected to separate boards dealing with the Poor Law and the 1870 Education Act and were entitled to serve on the new urban and district councils from 1894. The 1907 Act gave them the right to stand anywhere in Local Government.

2007 WLGS Re-launch

The revived WLGS is setting out with a discussion day, an AGM and a campaign launch at the Sheffield Town Hall on 10 March from 10.45 am to 3.15 pm (registration and coffee from 10 am). It aims to faciliate the role of women in local government and community activities. It will also celebrate the land mark success of the earlier WLGS a century ago.

Further Details

Further details can be obtained from Anne Baldwin at . Whilst membership is open for women and organisations they belong to, men can join as non-voting associates. So I had better put my money where my blogging has led me.

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