We waited for the publication of the Bygones article on the Project with great excitement. Sonya and Chinekwu had previously met with Jane Goddard, journalist/editor of Bygones at Derby Telegraph to share some memorabilia and discuss The Project. Jane was a font of local knowledge, not just about local history but also about who we might contact to follow up and contact for oral histories and tremendously helpful all around. Several email exchanges later and we had a publication date of May 22nd!
In the meantime, Prime Minister Theresa May had called a general election on June 8th, and Vox Feminarum along with Spectrum D had decided to organise a Voter Registration Drive. It seems that as we approach 100 years of the first group of women winning the right to vote, many women are choosing not to to!. A study, commissioned by Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman in 2015, revealed a widening gender 'turnout gap' in general elections - with fewer women voting than men. This is a worrying trend for democracy and for political representation, not just because, women make up more than 50% of the population but also because the right to vote was a long and hard fought for right. So we decided that we would get stuck in with a registration drive but also take the time to see if this trend was reflected locally. As it happens that trend is reflected in Derby and Derbyshire too, with more women than men either indicated that they were not voting or did not know who to vote for. The deadline for Voter Registration, as luck would have it, was May 22nd. It was a case of all hands to the wheel. This shift in focus meant that we almost forgot that the article had been due for publication after a very long day of encouraging people to register to vote!
Once we remembered it was panic stations to find a newsagents that still had copies of the paper, we purchased five for our archives. It was exciting to open up the newspaper to find that not only were we featured on the centre pages but that we were also on the front cover of the Bygones pull-out.
It was amazing. The article was beautifully illustrated with photographs and filled with details about the Project and how people could get involved. Thank you very much to Jane Goddard and her team at Derby Bygones. The Telegraph has Countywide circulation and we are hoping that people from across the County will get in touch with their stories, information pointers on women we should be talking to and much more.
May 22nd was certainly a memorable day all around.