Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Petitions part 6

Collecting Signatures


Alliance Record 3 October 1891 page 250
Victorian Year-Book 1890-1891
The population of Victoria in April 1891 was 1,140,405. (p210)
The number of men was recorded as 599,172 and the number of women was recorded as 541,233. (p210).
The total population of 'Greater Melbourne' was estimated as 491,378. (p216)
The estimated population for Richmond City was 38,770. (p216)

Vida Goldstein also described the attitudes of women to signing the petition: -
The few women who refused to sign the Petition were, almost without exception, those whose interests ended at the garden gate. Very rarely were refusals made by the wives of working men and by the women who took part in social reform outside the house. These women came face to face with the adverse conditions of human existance, with social, industrial, and moral problems, and saw the urgent need for women taking part in public affairs.
The result of the canvass was that wherever the workers went, in the city or the country, they found the great majority of women in favour of the vote, and of being on a footing of equality with men in every respect.
Vida Goldstein concluded: -
A striking feature of the canvass was that this feeling of equality between men and women was vital in the industrial suburbs. Never once were the canvassers met by a working man who said, "I won't allow my wife to sign the Petition."
Pioneer Pathways - sixty years of citizenship 1887-1947. page 117

In the biography of Vida Goldstein - That Dangerous Woman - Janette Banford provides addional information on Vida's views regarding the women who were prepared to sign the petition (pp. 17 – 18) -
Canvassing door to door, gathering signatures for the petition, was Vida's first work for woman suffrage. It was also excellent training for a future parliamentary candidate. Vida later wrote that the few women who refused to sign were those "whose interests ended at the garden gate." It was very rare to be refused by those women who were the wives of working men or who worked for social reform outside the home. These women knew the suffering and hardship of women and recognised the need for women to take part in public affairs. Working men encouraged their wives to sign:
If the husband opened the door, he would call his wife, saying "Here’s a lady who wants to know if you want the vote." And, invariably, she did. But in the more favoured suburbs, a husband would quite frequently refuse to allow his wife to sign; or a woman would say meekly and wistfully, "I’d like to sign, but my husband won’t let me."

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