Papers regarding the 50 Years Anniversary Celebrating Equal Voting Rights

Scope and Content

Materials relating to the 1978 celebrations that marked the 50th anniversary of equal voting rights for men and women in the UK, including:

  • 5 photographs featuring Dame Margery Corbett Ashby, Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, and Tory leader, Margaret Thatcher, in attendance at Westminster Hall. Four images have detailed typed descriptions on the reverse.
  • 3 photographs produced for The Guardian of celebratory events at Victoria Tower Guardians, near Westminster. All images have detailed handwritten descriptions on the reverse.
  • 3 photographs produced for the Daily Express of celebratory events at Victoria Tower Gardens, near Westminster.
  • 1 photograph of Princess Margaret being greeted by a number of government officials.
  • Programme for exhibition ‘Liberty Equality Sisterhood’, on suffragettes at Whitechapel Art Gallery.
  • Programme for the Golden Gala Performance to mark the anniversary held at the London Palladium.
  • Ticket (with envelope) for the Golden Gala performance at the London Palladium.
  • Poster and brochure advertising the exhibition on suffragette movement held at Westminster Hall.
  • Newspaper special issue entitled ’50 Years on’, featuring articles on the suffragette movement and the key issues surrounding equality debates.
  • Newspaper article extract, from Environment and Transport World entitled ‘Women have their say’, detailing the forthcoming celebrations.

Administrative / Biographical History

The 50th anniversary of equal voting rights celebrated in 1978 remembers the passing of the ‘Representation of the People Act in 1918’ by the government, whereby reforms to the electoral system in the UK meant that nearly all men would be allowed to vote regardless of property ownership at the age of 21. The Act saw the first electoral reform to include women, albeit with some restrictions; by the terms of the Act women were only eligible if they were over 30 years old and a member, or married to a member of the Local Government Register, or a property owner. It was not until 1928 with the passing of the ‘Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act’ that women were made equal, in electoral terms, with men, being allowed to vote at the age of 21 regardless of property ownership and marital status.

The celebrations of 1978, organised by Baroness Birk, who was at the time the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of the Environment, marked this development and progress of suffrage in Britain for men and women, while paying due recognition and homage to the suffragettes involved in the specific struggle for voting rights for women, such as Margery Corbett Ashby and Emmeline Pankhurst. The event, and publications surrounding the event, also successfully raised awareness of the contemporaneous cultural struggles and inequality women still endured. The materials most likely belonged to Romola Christopherson, (daughter of Albert Christopherson GB 3017 D/049), who was Executive Assistant to Lady Birk.

Access Information

Open and available for researchers. External researchers are advised to contact the archivist for an appointment.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the archive by the family of Romola Christopherson. Oct 2015

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Natalie Hayton, Archive Assistant. 13 May 2016

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be taken for private research purposes only. The majority of photographs in the collection are third party copyright and are stamped with photographer's details.

Related Material

The archive holds a collection of art work by Albert Christopherson, Romola's father. See reference D/049

Geographical Names