Manuscripts and Special Collections

A Selection of Elections

This exhibition ran between 7 September and 2 December 2018.

The year 2018 marked the centenary of the first UK general election in which some women were entitled to vote.

We celebrated that fact by looking back at some memorable elections and exploring how electioneering has changed over the years.

Before the first Reform Act of 1832, few people could vote and powerful aristocrats could sway the results. Papers from the disputed Cumberland election of 1768 and the Duke of Newcastle’s pocket borough of Aldborough revealed stories of coercion, bribery and corruption.

We discovered the fascinating story of James Morrison, the wealthy M.P. for Nottingham East lauded as ‘the friend of the poor’. We followed the tireless work of Fred Westacott, Communist Party candidate in Mansfield, in the 1960s and 1970s. And we learned about the suffragists and suffragettes who campaigned for equal voting rights in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Detail from The rights of women - or the effects of female enfranchisement, by George Cruikshank, 1853. Fagan Collection of Political Prints, Pol P 57

The curator discusses an election account from 1831 which was displayed in the video:



Listen again

Lakeside Arts Centre

The exhibition was accompanied by a series of lunchtime talks given by external speakers. The videorecordings can be accessed on the Facebook page of Nottingham Lakeside Arts.

Exhibition poster

Click on the image above to see a larger version of the poster

Exhibition themes

The exhibition boards which were displayed in the Weston Gallery are available to download:

You can also see introductory material from some of the exhibition cases:

Unfortunately it is not possible to display representations of original archive material and items which featured in the exhibition cases.

Visitor comments

As the first woman to represent Nottingham in the Commons I found it quite moving to think of the women (and men) on whose shoulders I stand - Lilian Greenwood M.P.

Really interesting displays and a timely reminder of the importance of voting!

Very informative and engaging, suitably illustrated by a wide variety of historical sources, books, cartoons and digital media

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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
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