Issued on behalf of LiveArgyll - Rothesay event to commemorate 100 years of first British women to get the vote

Published Date: 

19 Jan 2018 - 12:53

A Scottish woman who emigrated to America, is returning home to help commemorate the centenary of the first British women getting the vote.


Bernadette Cahill, an MA Honours graduate of History from Glasgow University, will be speaking at an event in Bute Museum, Rothesay, about the campaign – the same location that one of the leading suffragette and women’s rights organisations used for years.


What makes this even more significant is that the event will take place on 6th February - exactly 100 years to the day of the Act being passed. 


The event is being organised by LiveArgyll Libraries Service and hosted by Bute Museum.  Bernadette will also be speaking at a commemorative votes for women conference in Cambridge University on 3 February.


The event will hear Bernadette talk about some of the history of the work of the Women’s Freedom League on Clydeside between 1908 and 1933.


She first heard the story she tells during the 50th anniversary of the Act by which the first British women finally won the vote. The tale piqued her interest in Rothesay’s role in the campaign, which culminated with the passage of the 1918 Representation of the People Act. All women finally won the vote on the same terms as men only in 1928.


An oral history tape Bernadette recorded years later forms the basis of her talk, entitled, ‘A Wummin’s place is in the Home!’ She hopes her talk might stir some forgotten memories and lead to the discovery of further unknown sources, particularly photographs of suffragettes in action in Scotland.


Talking about the event, Bernadette said: “Kudos to Rothesay for hosting this talk on such a momentous centenary. The story reveals some Scottish and Rothesay history that has been forgotten, using a primary source that only a couple of people knew existed.


“What’s really interesting about the tape is that it brings the campaign to life in a way I have never encountered elsewhere. It’s sad and frustrating that so much women’s history has been forgotten, while documents and photos have just been discarded when the women have died because people didn’t know how valuable they were – especially when the women were single, as was so often the case.”


Bernadette Cahill is an independent scholar, author of Alice Paul, the National Woman’s Party and the Right to Vote: The First Civil Rights Struggle of the 20th Century, and Arkansas Women and the Right to Vote: The Little Rock Campaigns, (both 2015). She has numerous published articles and talks on women’s rights and the United States suffrage movement to her credit. She is currently completing her third history of women’s suffrage in the United States, about the American women’s campaigns for female suffrage 150 years ago.  



Eleanor McKay, LiveArgyll Bibliographic and Local Studies Librarian

Tel: 01369 708663 email: