Telling the story
Suffrage and census historiographies
in Vanishing for the vote
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The 1911 census boycott has till recently been regarded as a fairly minor theme within the wider suffrage narrative. Retrospective accounts began in 1913 (Margaret Nevinson); and in 1914 Emmeline Pankhurst's My Own Story claimed ‘many thousands of women all over the country refused or evaded’. Sylvia Pankhurst's 1931 The Suffragette Movement ignored the boycott (she was in America at the time); but Laurence Housman's 1937 The Unexpected Years gives a telling account of how ‘the women had come off victors from the field’: ‘Honest John Burns…climbed down in a night’, and there was not a single arrest. From the 1980s, demographic historians began analyzing anonymized 1911 schedules, but census historians generally did not look at Votes for Women. By the 1990s however a new generation of suffrage historians had emerged, who wanted to look beyond Sylvia Pankhurst's The Suffragette Movement well-known version. Family historians and others waited for the hundred years to elapse ~ till January 1912 ~ for the individual schedules to be released by the National Archives.

Vanishing for the vote

Suffrage, citizenship and the battle for the census


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