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Cambridge University Library


100-year-old women’s suffrage posters rediscovered in Cambridge University Library’s collection have gone on display for the first time, marking the centenary of the Representation of the People Act that saw women over 30 given the parliamentary vote.

Six of the 14 women’s suffrage posters from our Poster Collection have gone on display following their rediscovery in the Tower in 2016. Although the University Library now regularly collects modern ephemera, most recently including local campaign materials from the EU Referendum, for such items to survive from a century ago is rare, as Chris Burgess, Exhibitions Programme Coordinator explains:

“They were created to be plastered on walls, torn down by weather or political opponents, so it is highly unusual for this material to be safely stored for over a hundred years.”

It is through our status as a legal deposit library that we have in our collection over eight million printed items. However, these posters arrived at the Library a different way. In around 1910, a brown parcel arrived at the Library from a Dr Marion Philips; a leading figure of the suffrage movement. Why they were sent to Cambridge is unknown – although one theory is that they were sent for C.M. Ridding; a Girton graduate and the first woman to work at the Library.

For an illustrated and more in-depth look at the posters, their significance and where they fit in Cambridge’s history of women, visit the University’s website.

Follow this exhibition on Twitter with #ulArtofSuffrage.