Queensland Family History Society Inc

 

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Queensland Women’s Suffrage Petitions

Overview

There were three major women’s suffrage petitions presented to Parliament in Queensland.

The 1894 Women’s Suffrage Petition tabled 6 September 1894 officially had 7781 signatures by women though this index records 7896 entries.

The 1894 Men’s Suffrage Petition tabled 6 September 1894 officially had 3575 signatures by men, but this index records a few more: 3586 entries.

The 1897 WCTU Suffrage Petition tabled 14 July 1897 notes at the end that it had 3869 signatures though the count again seems to have been underestimated as this index records 3960 entries.

A few of the additional entries can be explained by our inclusion of names that have been struck out (for example, men signing the women’s petition) but not enough to explain the discrepancies.

The first two petitions were conducted by the Women’s Equal Franchise Association, which was formed in 1894 not long after the women in New Zealand petitioned successfully for the vote. The 1897 petition was organised by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

In each case, signatures were collected at mass meetings and by walking along streets. Though not all parts of the state were covered there are signatures from some areas far distant from Brisbane including Atherton, Herberton, Cloncurry, Charters Towers, Rockhampton, and Goondiwindi to name just a few.

For the centenary of the women’s vote in 2005, these petitions could not be found. In 2009, however, historian John McCulloch located them. They were digitised by the Queensland State Archives to preserve them as important historic documents and now have been transcribed by the Queensland Family History Society.