As at Jan 2009, The Women's Library held approximately 53 early 20th century banners in the Museum Collection with c.48 additional banners identified in the archives. The earliest banners result from suffrage activities and were created for the suffrage processions and demonstrations.
The first banner used by the suffrage movement was in 1905 (although this does not appear to have survived). The earliest banners held by the Library were created for National Union of Women's Suffrage Society and used in the Procession of Great Women, 1908. It was reported at the time that the Jun 1908 procession used over 800 banners, so only a proportion have survived.
Some of the banners are simple text-based banners, however many were professionally designed by members of suffrage organisations such as the Artist's Suffrage League. The suffragettes exhibited some of the banners in 1908 in Glasgow and Birmingham. The banners were also prominently displayed in the Queen's Hall victory celebration on 13 March 1918.
The collection also includes banners representing two early 20th century women's trade unions: the National Association of Women Civil Servants and the National Union of Women Teachers.
The Women's Library is keen to collect campaigning banners, particularly any that survive from the latter part of the 20th century. Please contact the curator for more details.
There are 32 additional banners in 5GFS Girls' Friendly Society archive.
Banners are also known to survive in the following uncatalogued archives: 5CWM(x6), 5ROW (x2), 5WPF, 5WWP(x1), 6MOW (x3), 6SFP (x1), 6WIE (x1), and 8UNB. [These are currently unavailable to researchers].