Susan John

Research title: Satire and Suffragettes

Research Summary

Satire and Suffragettes: Women’s Rights in Everyday Material Culture in Britain, 1900-1930

In the intense debates over women’s rights during the period 1900-30, the British public bought, posted and gifted a wide variety of pro and anti-suffrage related memorabilia, including postcards, decorative items and board games.

What has remained largely occluded in the rich literature on women’s suffrage is how the pro and anti-suffrage campaigns were represented and responded to within popular discourse - in the politics, life and material culture of the everyday, beyond the press, and outwith campaigning organisations.

This Collaborative Doctoral Award research will fill that void through rigorous and methodologically innovative exploration of mass-manufactured artefacts in museum and archive collections throughout the UK, starting with the collection at Glasgow Women’s Library (the UK’s sole Accredited Museum dedicated to women’s history, and a Recognised Collection of National Significance).

The research will pose questions surrounding wider societal engagement with the issue of women’s social and political roles, and examine the economy behind a uniquely situated collection of popular-political objects, including the motivations for production, consumption and use of these items between 1900 and 1930.



August 2020: AHRC Scholarship, managed by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities.


'Suffrage Now: International Conference on Suffrage and Democracy', Stockholm University (online), 13-14 August 2021, organised by a cross disciplinary research group at Stockholm University and Uppsala University. Presentation of paper, 'What It Will Come To: Women’s Rights in Everyday Material Culture in Britain, 1900-1930' on a panel theme entitled, ‘Cultural Expressions as Tools for Change.’

Additional Information

Sue John is undertaking her PhD on a part-time basis, and is also the Director of Operations, Resources and Enterprise at Glasgow Women's Library.