The sources have been carefully selected from the Churchill Archive to explore the question of the impact of militant campaignining by the Suffragettes in the period 1905-1912. As a collection of sources they can be used to build up a picture of thoughts and opinions on Woman’s suffrage. Teachers could ask students to work through the entire collection or get individuals or pairs or small groups to look at a smaller number of sources and then report back. However, it is probably better to try to get students to use all the sources if possible. This way they can move beyond the sources as a collection of individual documents and use them more in the way a historian would, as a collection of documents which illustrate the past more effectively as a collection.
With this basis in mind, students who have looked at the collection might then be challenged with tasks which extend their thinking and understanding. For example:
You might ask students if the sources provide an answer to the question posed by this enquiry.
|Source||Suggest a generally positive response to Suffragette action||Suggest a generally negative response to Suffragette action||Reasons why the source is strong or weak evidence about this particular issue (eg date of source, typicality)|
British suffragette campaigns with a poster, giving out newspapers to passers-by. (Wikimedia Commons)
Most of the sources in this investigation are letters. Students can sometimes fall into the trap of assuming that documents represent ‘the whole’ of the story rather than being part of the puzzle which historians have to piece together. It might be useful to ask them to discuss the following assertions in groups:
If time permits, a really interesting and useful follow up exercise would be to select a file of constituency correspondence and ask students to work through it counting out how many letters condemn or support the Suffragettes.