Digital Sources, Access and ‘History of a Nation’?

Alexander, Sally A. and Howkins, Alun, eds. 2011. Digital Sources, Access and ‘History of a Nation’?, History Workshop Journal, 71(1). 1477-4569 [Edited Journal]

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edited issues 71 & 72, Autumn 2011 & Spring 2011 with Alun Howkins

Every ten years a frisson passes through the diasporic world of British family history when the manuscript census forms compiled a hundred years earlier become available to the modern historian. The 1911 manuscript census was released unexpectedly early – and online – in January 2009. Overnight, and with relative ease, family historians could take the next step along the trail of their own micro-history. For other historians too the release of these records was exciting and significant. The 1911 census was the site of a battle in the campaign for women’s suffrage: militant suffrage organizations called for members and supporters to boycott the census. Jill Liddington and Elizabeth Crawford have used the enumerators’ forms to examine the suffragette claims of its success, and to detail the distinction between evasion (going somewhere to avoid being counted) and resistance (refusing to supply information on the census form, perhaps with the words ‘No Vote No Census’). Their essay, ‘Women do not count, nor shall they be counted’, suggests that support for the suffrage boycott was more widespread than political membership implies; at the same time they open up the wider issue of the politically tense relationship among feminists between the campaign for the vote and the promise of welfare reform, which had shaped the 1911 census.

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Edited Journal

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Date Deposited:

07 Jul 2015 09:42

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 10:07


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