• Short Summary

    Documentary covering changes in women's lives and status between l890 and 1930.

  • Description

    Check Copyright for material used in this documentary.

    London 1896 - street scene showing traffic. Narrator states "News cameramen in those early days dashed to record all kinds of events." Man with a stills camera rushes towards the newsreel camera to get in position to take a photograph of people alighting from a car. High angle shot of a parade of nurses, an animated circle is used to emphasise the fact that a cameraman is seen in the foreground of the shot. "Thanks to them and their hand operated cameras we do have coverage of some aspects of history in the early 20th century." A holiday crowd is filmed by an early cameraman and the narrator points out that although the men clown around for the benefit of the camera, "the women in the picture seem more passive, more subdued." The narrator asks a rhetorical question about what women's lives were like in the 1890s. An unidentified speaker relates how women were expected to be feminine. Narrator states the aim of this documentary - to use archive film to trace the struggle for women's rights and to show how womens' lives were reshaped by the end of the 1920s.

    Upper class Victorian women are described as having been "bound by marriage vows, corsets and a strict inescapable etiquette" - we see a group of elaborately dressed women holding dogs on leads. A woman works at a loom and we are told that "lower class women...had been tied for centuries to a life of ill paid drudgery." Still photographs of women doing piece work are shown - making sacks and matchboxes. Changes by the end of the century are described. Women were allowed to ride bicycles, married women had the right to their own property, a few women had begun to work in medicine, wealthy women got the vote in local government. Queen Victoria's funeral is shown - Victoria had always been opposed to women having the vote.

    Victorian attitudes persisted after the death of the Queen. L/S of Queen Mary walking through the grounds of a University - female graduates curtsy as she walks past.
    Voiceover is a woman speaking of how her family's acquaintances were horrified that she wished to go to University. Another woman speaks of not agreeing to votes for women as a group of smartly dressed women parade in front of the camera.

    Still image of Mrs Fawcett - campaigner for the parliamentary vote, she led the "suffragists" (sic). Still shot of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst who led the "suffragettes". Mrs Pankhurst believed in "deeds not words", protest by militant action. We see a rare piece of film of the suffragette leaders Mrs Pankhurst, Mrs Drummond and Mrs Pankurst's daughter Christabel Pankhurst. A speech by Christabel Pankhurst plays over footage of suffragette action: a woman makes a speech from a high platform, women arrive at a meeting, woman walks along wearing a sandwich board. Footage of a constitutional demonstration of 1910 (possibly in Trafalgar Square). M/S panning shot of women holding banners which show the male support for the women's movement. June 1910 - a march of triumph - the suffragists and suffragettes believed that the government was finally giving way. The militarists were dressed in white holding arrows which represented a symbol of their imprisonment due to the cause. Mrs Pankhurst is seen. Other sections of the parade are seen, including women in University robes. Banners, flowers and flags are carried. However, despite the optimism of the movement, the bill was shelved. "Suffragette Riots at Westminster - Scenes in the disturbance in Parliament Square caused by militant Suffragettes." Women holding banners are surrounded by police punched, knocked down and trampled on" (we can only really see jostling).

    Women at work in the coal industry. Various shots of women pushing trolleys of coal, sorting the pieces, moving wood and doing other heavy work in 1910. Film of Keir Hardie "the father of the labour party" and a supporter of women's rights making a speech. We hear his voice on the soundtrack.

    Still photograph of George Lansbury, another socialist politician in favour of votes for women. "The Suffragette Election - Mr G. Lansbury who has resigned his seat for Bromley and Bow in order to fight a bye-election in the Suffragette cause." George Lansbury poses with a group of young children. He lost his seat and later went to prison for his suffragette sympathies.

    Demonstration demanding Lansbury's release organised by another of Emmeline Pankhurst's daughters is shown. Unlike the rest of her family who campaigned amongst the richer echelons of society, Sylvia worked with poorer women of London's East End. Various shots of traffic being held up by the demonstration and by men running towards the parade. The marchers clash with the police - various shots of women being led away by male escorts and being arrested by the police. (Includes famous shot of woman being led along by three policemen.)

    "London Suffragette Pageant. 66,000 women take part in a procession through London. All the famous women in history are represented." High angle shot of the pageant - women parade through crowded street. Exciting independence of the "new woman" was making headlines. Footage of female aviator powdering her nose before embarking upon a flight. A friend helps her to dress for her flight. Intertitle reads "Men were not alone. In 1912, Harriet Quimby essayed to be the first woman flyer to cross the English Channel." She puts on her flying gloves, a man kneels down beside the plane and she climbs onto his knee to get into the cockpit. She shakes hands with some of her well wishers. The plane moves off. "And she succeeded! She landed near Boulogne. Headlines flared in the world's press - A woman had flown the Channel!" Men wave their hats as she drinks a toast to them. (This is probably not a Pathe item). Female voiceover about the political situation accompanies film of large crowds of people walking through the streets. She speaks of struggle, upheaval, strikes, lockouts and bitterness between employers and employees.
    "London. Cabinet Returns. Re-assembling of Parliament For a Strenuous Session." Shot of Asquith arriving at Parliament - he pays the taxi driver. Militancy is illustrated, fires in the street due to arson attacks. "St Leonards Outrage. Damage estimated at £10,000 was caused by suffragettes firing the residence of Mr Arthur Du Cros M.P." L/S of the house with various people standing outside.

    "Yarmouth - Suffragettes? Yarmouth Pier and Pavilion Burnt Down - Eclair Journal" Panning shot of the damage caused by a bomb placed in a dressing room. Voiceover (possibly the theatre owner) "I never thought my show was as bad as all that..." "London Church Completely Destroyed by Fire. £20,000 damaged supposed to be the work of the Suffragettes - the Williamson Animated News" Interior of the church showing fire damage - various shots.

    Intertitle and narrator announce the Derby of 1913. Good panning shot of policemen having their lunch. One policeman toasts the camera with what looks like a glass of beer. Crowds of people wave at the King's carriage. Various shots of the race. Tattenham Corner, Emily Davison throws herself in front of the King's horse. An animated circle is used to focus the audience's attention on Emily as she ducks under the railings. Crowds rush to where she has fallen. We are shown the incident again in slow motion.

    "Miss Davison's Funeral. The Funeral Procession of the Suffragette who was fatally injured at Epsom passing through London." Shot of the procession as it passes the camera, then the coffin being carried from St George's Church in Bloomsbury. Police hold back large crowds who surge forwards. Morpeth (?) - thousands of spectators. Woman's voice over the footage explains that Emily Davison believed that "every movement must have a sacrifice."

    Footage of a procession in 1914 advertising the suffragette magazine. The women wear hoods and long robes over their clothes. "Arrest Bonar Law and Carson" was the headline on the front page. Suffragettes petitioned Carson on his doorstep. C/U of two women sitting on the step of his home.

    "Suffragette New Method. Forsaking Militancy, Suffragettes try to gain votes by novel procession at Westminster." High angle shots of a peaceful procession - cars and floats are decorated with flowers. "Law Abiding Suffragists Journeyed from all over the country to hold a gigantic demonstration in Hyde Park." Various shots of members of Mrs Fawcett's non militant "National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies". Two women ride horses through crowds of men. 1914 "Palace Pandemonium. Mrs. Pankhurst and over 50 other suffragettes arrested at Buckingham Palace." Police lead away suffragettes - various shots.

    Sequence showing women's efforts during the First World War. C/U of a sign reading "War Declared on Germany." Shots of people rushing through London streets. "Miss Christabel Pankhurst Home Again. The pre-war outlaw is now a win-the-war champion." C/U of Christabel posing in front of a car. High angle of a procession of men and women. One banner reads: "The British Lion is awake, so is the Lioness." In Trafalgar Square an unnamed American actress puts her attributes to great use to help in the recruitment drive (not recognised). "You're Wanted. Miss Carrie Lanceley at the Mansion House singing "Your King and Country Need You" (this is a Gaumont Graphic item.) Carrie sings in the open air to a large audience.

    nterior of a hospital, nurses talk and tend to wounded soldiers. Nurse Cavell is mentioned. The work of nurses is praised. Women queue to join the Women's Auxiliary Services. They often volunteered without the permission of their menfolk "eager to be useful and to escape the boring routine of a woman's existence".

    Fabulous government propaganda film of 1918. Made by the Ministry of Information, it is a dramatisation of how the announcement of the First World War affects a typical middle class family. M/S of a family sitting around a table in a garden. The son hands his father a newspaper in which he reads about the announcement appealing for army recruits. Intertitle reads: "Rubbish! The whole business will be over by Christmas. You must stop with me!" The father and son argue. Father bangs his fist on the table and storms off. "Mr Smith gets another shock." He sees his daughter reading a book and he takes it from her hands. It is "Woman's Place in the War". He throws it on the ground in a fury. "Woman's place in the war is AT HOME! She is not fit for anything else." He storms off. "Mr Smith has an Unexpected Visitor." He is sitting in a chair in the garden looking cross. He screws up a newspaper and throws it on the ground. Suddenly a ghostly figure appears. It is the apparition of a woman. "Wh - who are you?" asks Mr Smith. She replies: "I am the spirit of British Womanhood. You have poured contempt upon our powers. Now you must learn to realise them. Rise and go!" He tries to walk away but in the end succumbs to her power. "The Call." The ghostly woman stands on a hillside with her arms raised. "The Working of the Spirit" C/U of woman picking flowers. She is suddenly hypnotised and walks away like a zombie. C/U by a woman being seduced by a much older man. She smokes a cigarette and looks disinterested. She walks away when she sees the spirit of British Womanhood.

    "Women's March Through London. A vast procession of women headed by Mrs Pankhurst, march through London to show the Minister of Munitions their willingness to help in any war service." High angle shots of the march in July 1915. Lloyd George (previously an enemy of Mrs Pankhurst) had committed money to the march as he was eager to recruit women into his munitions factory. "We Demand the Right To Serve" reads a banner. Various shots of nurses of the "Scottish Women's Hospitals" founded by Dr Elsie Ingalls (Sp?) at work in France. They carry men on stretchers through the snow. Dr Ingalls had offered her services to the War Office and had been told "My Dear Lady, go home and sit still." An injured man is lifted into a Red Cross X-Ray Car. We see the removal of shrapnel in an operating theatre. A woman Doctor operates. Dr Ingalls once said: "The ordinary male disbelief in our capacities cannot be argued away, it can only be worked away."

    C/U of a poster: "On Her Their Lives Depend - Women Munition Workers - Enrol at once" Various shots of women working in the factories. Volunteers undergo a medical examination. "The Munitioneers wear gloves and masks to protect them from the poisons and dangerous fumes of the explosive material." Various shots of shells being filled with TNT etc. Voiceover of woman who had done this kind of work. Good M/S of large group of girls in what look like nightshirts washing their hands in a row of side by side wash basins. High angle shot of large number of women eating in a canteen. "Employers were beginning to see the connection between welfare and productivity."

    "Mothers Leaving their Babies in the Morning." - Kineto item. M/S of children being taken into the Woolwich Nursery for Children of Munition Workers "open day and night". High angle shot of playground and interior of creches or and nurseries. Nursery nurses bathe two children. Child welfare became very important at this time. More shots of women at work in highly skilled trades.

    "Women's Land Army - Where there's a will there's a way. "Experts" declared that women could not do this heavy work." (Broadwest Films?) M/S of Land Army girls loading hay onto the back of a cart. Women roll barrels, shovel earth, hammering metal, moving bricks etc. "A dangerous occupation - Acetylene Welding" (Ministry of Information). M/S of women working with welding irons. C/U of woman wearing welding glasses, she stops and lifts them up, smiles at the camera then puts them back on and continues welding.

    Continues on Reel 2.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    British Pathé
    Issue Date:
    1890 - 1930
    hd format:
    2K at Filmfinity, HD at Filmfinity
    Black & White
    Time in/Out:
    01:00:06:00 / 01:20:53:00
    BC: A000868875

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