History of local suffragette Mary Gawthorpe returns to Leeds

Caption: An image of Leeds suffragette Mary Gawthorpe (mandatory credit if used to Parliamentary Archives, London. STH/DS/4/9/3)

A talk telling the story of the life of one of the unsung local heroes of the Suffragette Movement is to be held at Leeds Central Library this week.

The session will take place at the library on The Headrow from 1pm-2:30pm on Thursday 20 June, with a focus on the life of women’s suffrage campaigner Mary Gawthorpe.

Born in Woodhouse in Leeds in 1881, Mary developed a skill at public speaking through her involvement with a trade union and contact with the early socialist movement in the city. After being inspired by Christabel Pankhurst, Mary joined the campaign for women’s suffrage and was quickly appointed as national organiser for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

With suffragette activity suspended at the outbreak of the First World War, Mary emigrated to America in 1915 where she took up feminist and socialist causes. After her death in 1973, her family gave all her papers to the University of New York.

The collection was recently made available commercially on microfilm and, thanks to the contributions of a number of Leeds organisations and individuals, the papers are now available at the Leeds Local and Family History section of Leeds Central Library - their sole repository in Britain.

To celebrate the papers being deposited at the library, Chair of Leeds Library Michael Meadowcroft will be presenting a talk entitled ‘Mary Gawthorpe – the Leeds Suffragette Dynamo’ in the first floor exhibition space on Thursday.

In addition, a number of local heritage organisations will be showcasing some of the collections on the history of the women’s movement in Leeds.

The event is free to attend with all welcome. No booking is required, but seating is limited so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure and skills Councillor Lucinda Yeadon said:

“The story of Mary Gawthorpe is a fascinating part of local history and the campaign for women’s rights, so we are very pleased to now have her papers as part of our collection in Leeds Central Library.

“Women’s rights remains an important topic both in the UK and around the world, and so this is a vital piece of history which we are very pleased has been preserved and rightfully is now part of the collection in Mary’s home city of Leeds.”

For more information in the Leeds library and information service, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/libraries


For media enquiries please contact:

Roger Boyde,

Leeds City Council press office,

Tel 0113 247 5472

Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk