Friday, 23 September 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Women Stand Up.

Earlier this week, New Zealand celebrated the 118 years of women having the vote. In 1893 New Zealand was the first country in the world where women won the right to vote in national elections. The suffrage movement was this country’s first truly mass movement – mobilising tens of thousands of New Zealanders with rallies and a series of massive petitions.
The petition was signed by nearly 32,000 New Zealanders. Nearly 24,000 of those signatures have survived on the copy of the petition presented to Parliament. (Ministry of Women's Affairs).

Far be it from me to ignore such a historic event. For today's Top 5 for Friday, here are a selection of books on not just the suffrage movement in New Zealand, but also the place of women in helping to shape our country.

  1. Standing in the Sunshine (Sandra Coney). Published to celebrate the centennary of woman achieving the vote in New Zealand, this is my absolute top pick of books if you want to read about the history of our country from a female perspective. This illustrated social history is extremely readable, able to be picked up and put down with short sections and explores all aspects of women's lives from 1893 to 1993, turning up new and unexpected moments in New Zealand women's history. In addition, the Sir George Grey Special Collection at Auckland Central Library holds some of the research notes from the publication. Highly recommended.

  2. Kate Sheppard is one of the iconic figures in New Zealand suffrage and Auckland Libraries have a selection of biographies highlighting her life.

  3. The Suffrage Trail The description of this book calls it a "Guide to... memorials of our Suffrage Centennial Year- the gardens, the parks, the trees, works of art, sculptures, hangings, murals, paintings, plaques and buildings". In one volume a biography, inventory and travel guide celebrating the women of Aotearoa.

  4. Be counted : the diary of Amy Phelps, Dunedin, 1893 (Janine McVeagh). If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I am a fan of the "My story" series of children's fiction. So it will be no surprise that this turns up on a Top 5 list. Thirteen year old Amy goes to live with her aunt and uncle in Dunedin to be educated. Amy is an aspiring artist and has the opportunity to meet the acclaimed woman artist Frances Hodgkins. In big city Dunedin, Amy finds herself involved with the darker side of life through her friend Mary, who works in a sweatshop then goes missing. Amy also observes her aunt's involvement with the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the struggle to get women the vote. Another great introduction to an episode from our history for junior readers.

  5. Her Story: Women shaping New Zealand History A compilation of the highlights of past issues of the New Zealand Memories magazine.

Celebrations for the anniversary will be held throughout the country. Specifically in our area, Libraries in Waiuku, Whangaparaoa and Warkworth will be hosting displays (assisted by the Ministry of Women's Affairs). Or you can make use of our free Wifi or computer services to check the original petition online to see if there is a family connection. Find out more on these websites

+ Search the petition online at to see if a relative was a suffragist.

+ Join us on facebook

Have a great weekend everyone. Go the All Blacks.

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