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Gutter politics: women newsies and the suffrage press

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The article examines the role of the suffrage news-seller in light of the important role official organs came to play for organisations within the movement and the competing claims the act of selling placed on women unaccustomed to venturing into the streets and facing public hostility. The argument draws on evidence from a variety of newspapers, with a particular emphasis on Votes for Women, to demonstrate the extent to which organisations tried to encourage and reward volunteers to sell papers. These positive appeals and testimonials found in the periodicals are read against the more ambivalent and negative accounts of the experiences of paper-sellers found in suffrage fiction and autobiographies which deal more directly with the personal costs of these attempts to raise the profile of the movement. The conclusion stresses how the contradictions between such sources can offer insights into the dilemmas faced by women activists in these years.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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