The Times and the women's suffrage movement, 1900-1918
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The thesis, "The Times and the Women's Suffrage Movement 1900-1918", is aimed at clarifying the paper's treatment of a contentious subject and amplifying the historical data about the movement itself. In order to accomplish this, the daily issues of the newspaper and its background were examined, along with the available sources on women's suffrage. After first reviewing the past and status of The Times, and the history and achievements of the suffragists, the study takes the shape of a chronological account of the paper's response to the movement in the first 19 years of the twentieth century. Until 1905, the response was negligible, as indeed was the energy of the suffragists. With the advent of militant tactics, inspired by the Pankhurst-headed Women's Social and Political Union, the public image of women's suffrage began to change and, with it, press coverage. Until 1908, these new tactics were largely symbolic, though often leading to the arrest and imprisonment of the new style "suffragettes". Besides opposing female enfranchisement in leading articles, there is some evidence that The Times allowed its opinions to spill over into its news columns - an occurrence which was to become increasingly obvious when militant tactics took on the violent aspect of stone throwing from 1908-1911. During this later period, The Times' editorial opposition hardened; when the suffragettes began employing arson and other property damage, in what was openly claimed to be "guerrilla warfare" in the years preceding the First World War, The Times used its respectable journalistic leadership to condemn the militants and urge active public and parliamentary opposition to the enfranchisement of women. When Britain entered the war, concern with the militant women disappeared from The Times' columns, as did other news unrelated to the conflict. By 1916, however, the participation of women in wartime activities began to command publicity, and a groundswell of support for enfranchisement finally overtook The Times in 1917. Subsequent leading articles were favorable, as were the majority of its wartime news accounts of women. Besides serving as a record of The Times' sensitivity to a popularly discussed topic, the study uncovers a thread of consistency running from the first perfunctory opposition to women's suffrage through active condemnation of militancy and final support of female enfranchisement. The Times always emphasized its adherence to educated public opinion; and even when its editorial shift did come, it seemed only to emphasize continuing reflection of this opinion and recognition of the trends acting upon it. The Times can then be seen as a newspaper possessing not only strength but flexibility towards political and social change.
Thesis, MLitt Master of Letters
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