Amy Swainston profile

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Amy Swainston

Royal Holloway University of London (2023)


Dr Stella Moss


Commemorating the Equal Franchise Act 1928


The Equal Franchise Act of 1928 is one of the most important Acts in UK democratic history. Recognised by UNESCO’s Memory of the World UK Register for its exceptional historical significance, it granted equal voting rights to women and men for the first time. As a result, both men and women could vote at the age of 21, free from any property qualification. Its passage marked, in essence, the moment the UK became a full democracy.

Supported by The National Archives (TNA) and UK Parliamentary Archives (UKPA), this project will work towards the upcoming 2028 centenary of the landmark Act by combining traditional archival research with the design, delivery, and evaluation of a research-driven public programme of activity to commemorate its passage. This programme will include an online exhibition, blogs, podcasts, and an events series collaboratively produced with TNA and UKPA, resourced by Royal Holloway, and hosted on a bespoke RHUL project website.

The project will contribute essential new research towards a fuller understanding of the Act in the run-up to the centenary, exploring the efforts of the wide range of women and organisations involved in campaigning for equal suffrage; the diversity of their experiences, methods, and priorities; and varying ideas about citizenship in interwar Britain. Building on the collaborative work undertaken during the 2018 centenary of partial female suffrage, the public programme will further promote inclusion by actively engaging more diverse audiences in the work of TNA and UKPA, providing innovative new resources to better represent the society the two institutions serve.

The accompanying 40,000-word reflective thesis will provide a critical commentary on the project’s impact upon audiences’ understanding of the Act. It will also examine how the commemorative approach adopted is advancing the practice of commemorating national anniversaries, and identifying lessons for the future.