Friday, 23 October 2015

UN 70th Birthday

This Saturday it is the UN’s 70th birthday. 
On what became UN Day, 24 October 1945, the United Nations Charter was ratified and the UN was created.
The National Library of Scotland is a United Nations Depository Library and as such has a wealth of information on the work of UN.
You can follow the United Nations either by their website at
Or see information about the 70th anniversary at
As President Obama mentioned yesterday about the United Nations.
“Since the end of World War II, the United Nations has provided a forum for all countries to come together around the same rules and norms to help advance development and security; bolster ties between member states; and conquer disease, hunger, and poverty. During this time, we have seen great advances in health and education, the emergence of a global economy connecting every region of the globe through groundbreaking developments in commerce and technology, and the rise of more democratic governments. Even as we recognize the significance of the progress that has been made, we know that grave challenges to our common security and principles risk pulling us back to a more disordered world. In meeting those threats, we must summon the spirit of unity and cooperation at the heart of the United Nations Charter -- signed in 1945 by 51 countries -- and rededicate ourselves in support of the United Nations.”


Monday, 19 October 2015

Treaty between Japan and Corea 1876

This is an extract from the House of Lords parliamentary paper about the Treaty between Japan and Corea.
“Having heard that Mr. Miyamoto of the Guaimusho, had returned from Corea with the Envoys, we called upon him.  As it is not within the sphere of his duty to give any information upon purely official matters, we did not seek for this.  But the following observations made by him upon the state of the country and the habits and customs of the people, may prove interesting to our readers, and we therefore publish them.”
Some examples of the observations are; the soil is very poor as the pine trees are “crooked and ugly”, or the houses of the common people are about ten to twelve feet square and are “little better than dog kennels.”  The walls are made of stone and earth and the roofs are made of rice-straw thatch.  People sit on oiled paper on top of the compact earth floors, and they sit with straight legs.  The clothing is described “When approaching the land and at some distance the Coreans present the pretty appearance of snow herons, but on closer inspection they resemble the lazy priests of our own temples, whose garments may once have been white, but are so no longer.”
However, it was the last paragraph of the observations that caught my attention.
“We saw no wine-ships, “geisha” (singing girls), or the like.  It is said that all natural sons become priests, and the daughters prostitutes; but we could not discover whether this was actually the case.  We saw some Japanese hair-oil which they said were used by the women.  The custom of excluding women from the public gaze seems to exist in Corea as in China, and it is said that even among themselves visitors are not permitted to see the wife.  Thus we can give no description of the Corean Women.  Men do not use oil for the hair, which they pin up themselves.  We saw no public baths of hair-dressing shops, and we heard that the Coreans do not bathe.  In the warmer days of summer they go to the river or seashore to wash themselves; and in the hotel where we stayed there was not such a thing as a bath...This accounts for the filthy state in which the Coreans keep their persons, and for the dirty hue of their once white clothes.”
All this and a lot more can be found in the House of Lords parliamentary papers session 1876 vol. XX.


It has taken a decade to get off the ground, but as Suffragette received its UK premiere as the opening film of the London film festival, the film’s director revealed that she was determined not to be knocked off course in her quest to make her 10-year “passion project”.
 View the official Pathe film trailer for 'Suffragette'

Over the last couple of years the Official Publications Team here at the National Library of Scotland have blogged about the Suffragette Movement and I have reposted these below.
We also have a learning resource about the Suffragette Movement in Scotland called 'A guid cause'
The posts below refer to a publication called Hansard. This is the report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and talks at length about the Suffragettes. If you are resident in Scotland you can access Hansard remotely via the National Library of Scotland once you have applied for a readers card. Alternatively you can search Hansard via this resource although it doesn't have the same level of searching.
I hope this will whet your appetite to find out more about the plight of the Suffragettes  and read the actual accounts of events as they were recorded in Parliament's Hansard.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Suffragist or Suffragette?

After setting up the display about “votes for women” I have to ask myself what would I have been in the battle for a vote, would I have been a suffragist, or a suffragette?

The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society (NUWSS) was set up in 1897 under the leadership of Millicent Fawcett who wanted to achieve the vote for women by peaceful tactics which included petitions, non-violent demonstrations and lobbying of MPs.

The Suffragette movement was born out of the suffragists’ movement by Emmeline Pankhurst who becoming impatient with not getting the vote. She set up a separate society the Women’s’ Social and Political Union (WSPU) whose motto was DEEDS NOT WORDS and from 1905 onwards became more militant and violent in the methods of campaign.

After reading so many speeches in Hansard I have become quite angry and would hope to have had the courage to be a suffragette.

The following speech is from the MP Mr Dickinson quoted in Hansard vol. 170 on the 8th March 1907

“…and was unable to secure a seat. He sat accordingly on the floor, and [1162] then the Speaker called him by name; and immediately he found himself hauled on to the friendly knees of another hon. friend in order to address the Chair. But supposing on that occasion the unfortunate male had to seek similar refuge on the knees of a lady Member. The privileges of Members would be curtailed in all directions.”

So which camp would you be in?

Friday, 14 June 2013

Emily Davison

The 14th June 2013 marks the 100th year anniversary of the funeral of Emily Wilding Davison the suffragette who died after walking in front of the King’s horse on Derby Day in 1913.
UK Parliament has an interesting website about the suffragettes at


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

100 years ago!

On the 4th June 1913 Emily Wilding Davison was knocked down by the King's horse at Epsom during the derby. The militant campaigner for women's right to vote died of her injuries four days later.

I have chosen various Hansard quotes for the display cabinet but surprisingly I could not find anything in Hansard about this incident. However, I found this quote from Hansard in 1997/98 vol. 307. Mrs Eileen Gordon (MP Romford) states:

Historically, women have had to fight to achieve equality. However, it is so annoying to most of us to have to make a point that is self-evident. Mention has been made of the suffragette movement, and I hope that all women Members have made a pilgrimage to the store cupboard in the Chapel, where in 1911 Emily Davison hid away to try to get her name on the electoral register at this place. She later died under the hooves of the King's horse at the Derby, giving her life for her beliefs. We should remember those who went before us, who fought for rights that we now take for granted.

"Is there a place for women?"

Mr Grant an MP in 1913 mentioned in Hansard “…in controlling a vast Empire like our own, an Empire built by the mental and physical capacity of men, and maintained, as it always must be maintained, by the physical and mental capacity of masterly natures. I ask “is there a place for women?”

There is a display outside the Reading Room in the Library's George IV Bridge Building, featuring books from the Official Publications Collection on the subject vote for women.

There is also a related podcast recorded earlier this year at