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100 year old petition is new exhibition centrepiece

Tuesday August 9 Media release by Rosemary Cadden

Thanks to 20th Century technology, the 100-year-old petition that led to South Australian women becoming one of the first in the world to have the right to vote goes on display today ... in several formats.

The original petition, fragile with tears and 101 metres long, has gone through a nine-stage restoration, including dry cleaning, ink fixing, relining and repair, to now form a series of mounted displays.

Sections will form the centre-piece for the exhibition "...the rights hereby granted..." at the Myer 3rd floor Exhibition Hall in Rundle Mall, which has been developed by South Australian State Records and the Australian Archives to celebrate the Women's Suffrage Centenary.

This exhibition is one of several Centenary events supported throughout the year by Coles Myer.

Also on display will be a replica of the 101 metre long petition, a copy of the entire petition in book form, and an index of the names to enable visitors to check to see if their forebears signed the original petition.

Although it won't be in this exhibition, the original petition has also been put on microfilm.

The petition was signed by more than 11,600 people-a third of the State's population at the time, and no petition before or since has matched that percentage.

It was handed to Parliament on 23 August 1884, and the photocopy will once again be handed over on August 23, this year.

Also in the display:

  • the anti-suffrage petition-signed by 2600 citizens

  • numerous posters and photographs including women working during both World Wars

  • many original documents-including the Act signed by Queen Victoria who is on record as saying that votes for women was "mad wicked folly"

  • excerpts from various reports, speeches and copies of letters which help to trace the changing social and governmental attitudes to women and their place in Australian society.

One particular report (written by a woman) in 1944 suggests, among other things, that women cannot make decisions, their weakness is to stumble or fall down "as every insurance company knows!", they tire easily because of a lack of red corpuscles in the blood, and not only are they knock-kneed they are also knock-elbowed.


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This page last updated on Friday 11 April, 2014 15:16



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