Bradford and Keighley Local Studies Libraries celebrated International Women’s Day with a series of events over the week featuring ‘Peaceful Women’ by local author, playwright, actor and historian, Irene Lofthouse.
Irene Lofthouse took on the role of ‘Mrs Norton’, an ordinary working class woman actively involved in the campaign for social reform who is given just a few lines in a Bradford newspaper of the time and then lost in history until now.
Over the week, we were pleased to welcome school classes from Worth Valley Primary, Fagley Primary and Beckfoot Allerton Primary as well as Keighley Association for Women and Children, Keighley Women’s network and a great turnout from the general public on the mid-week performance.
‘Peaceful Women’ looked at the era following the end of WW1 and the efforts to use peaceful methods for change.
The performance explored the stories of local women of the time who campaigned for peace during WW1 or for rights following the end of the war. ‘Mrs Norton’ characterised each person through voice and props. The interactive performance raised awareness of known and hidden histories of local women and their impact locally and nationally through an entertaining and educative piece of theatre.
Some of the women included, campaigned for peace in WW1 such as Fanny Muir and Esther Sandiford from Bradford Women’s Humanity League/Women’s Peace Congress.
Also included were those who campained for social reform after WW1 such as Julia Varley, Ethel and Philip Snowden, Margaret McMillan, Bradford MP Muriel Nichols and Barbara Castle. Margaret Wintringham from Silsden was the first British born woman to take her seat in the House of Commons.
Local archive materials and Electoral Registers from the local studies collections were on display. Bradford Local Studies Electoral Registers began in 1848 and Keighley’s registers began in 1882 when the town was incorporated.
Pictured below are some of the items from the Local Studies collections on display at the event.