In the News: Newly Discovered Suffragette Letter and Romanov Family Photographs Exhibited

Letter from Annie Kenney to her Sister Nell Found

A letter written in 1905 by leading Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) suffragette Annie Kenney has been discovered in a Canadian archive. 

Kenney is doubly interesting: not only is she one of the earliest militant suffragettes at the heart of the movement along with the Pankhursts, but she was also from an altogether different background, working-class as opposed to the middle-class Pankhursts. She offers historians a glimpse into what motivated working-class women into political agency.

Annie Kenney
Annie Kenney (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

An Oxford University historian researching the Kenney family discovered the letter, believed to be the earliest from a militant suffragette discussing her imprisonment. It was written from 62 Nelson Street, the Pankhurst family home, now the home of the Pankhurst Centre, the day after her release from Strangeways. Her sister had emigrated to Canada and the letter had been archived with other family documents under her married name, helping it to elude discovery for 100 years.

Kenney, along with Christabel Pankhurst had been jailed for disrupting a political meeting which included Winston Churchill. Kenney had raised the question of woman suffrage to no answer from the front of the room and was manhandled out of the building before being arrested along with Pankhurst. The letter explains that Pankhurst was to remain in prison ‘until Friday’.

It was the first of many imprisonments for Annie Kenney.

It is a discovery that is especially pertinent during 2018, as this is the centenary year of the Representation of the People Act which marks some women who met certain criteria gaining the right to vote in Britain.

The letter will be on display temporarily at the Gallery Oldham from 29 September 2018.


Romanovs: 101 Years after their massacre

In 2015, a cache of twenty-two photo albums containing never before seen photographs of the imperial Romanov family was discovered in a Bradford museum. The Romanovs, the ruling dynasty of Russia, were executed after the revolution when the Bolsheviks came to power. This trove of fascinating images now joins other items of historic importance that are showcased in a new exhibition at the Science Museum in London.

Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei were murdered on the night of 16 July 1918.

The photographs were taken by Herbert Galloway Stuart, an English tutor to the nephews of  Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II, and were taken between 1908 and 1916.

The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution (Photo: Science Museum)

A curator of the new exhibition was searching for Russian-related material at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, for a previous exhibition, when she was given a wooden champagne crate from Harrods. It was in that crate in which the photo albums that had been stored for decades without investigation, were found.

The exhibition will explore the ‘life, health and bloody end’ of the Romanovs. It is a free exhibition but advance booking is necessary.

The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution, 21 September 2018 – 24 March 2019




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