Helen Blackburn

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Helen Blackburn (25 May 1842 – 11 January 1903) was a feminist and campaigner for women's rights, especially in the field of employment. Blackburn was also an editor of the Englishwoman's Review.

Life[edit]

Blackburn was born in Knightstown, co. Kerry, Ireland, the daughter of Bewicke Blackburn, a civil engineer, of co. Kerry and Isabella Lamb of co. Durham. When her family moved to London in 1859,[1] she soon came into contact with the women of the Langham Place Group, especially Jessie Boucherett and Emily Faithfull.

Over the years Blackburn and Boucherett worked together in a number of endeavors. Both were editors of the Englishwoman's Review (Blackburn, editor, 1880-90; joint editor, 1890-95).[1] Together they established the Women's Employment Defence League in 1891, to defend women's working rights against restrictive employment legislation.[2] They also together edited The Condition of Working Women and the Factory Acts, 1896.

Blackburn joined the National Society for Women's Suffrage in 1872 and was secretary of the executive committee of the society from 1874 to 1880. She subsequently held similar positions in a number of related organizations.[3] She also took opportunities to study, first in 1875, taking a class in Roman Law at University College London, and later (1886-88) classes at University College, Bristol.[4] In the early 1890s, she assisted Charlotte Carmichael Stopes in her writing of British Freewomen: Their Historical Privilege by supplying her own notes on the subject, then by purchasing the whole of the first edition in 1894.[5] She retired in 1895 to care for her aged father, though later returned to take up her work. [4]

Her long term connection with the women's movement allowed her to write her history of the Victorian women's suffrage campaign, Women's suffrage: a record of the women's suffrage movement in the British Isles, with biographical sketches of Miss Becker, finished in 1902, shortly before her death the following year, at Greycoat Gardens, Westminster, on 11 January 1903, aged 60, and was buried at Brompton cemetery.[1] She left her personal library along with her archives to Girton College, Cambridge.[6] Her will also made provisions for establishing a loan fund for training young women.[1]

Works[edit]

Blackburn's books include:

  • A Handbook for Women Engaged in Social and Political Work, 1881.
  • The Condition of Working Women and the Factory Acts, editor with Jessie Boucherett, 1896.
  • Women under the Factory Act, written with Nora Vynne, 1903.
  • Women's suffrage: a record of the women's suffrage movement in the British Isles, with biographical sketches of Miss Becker, 1902.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Smith 1912.
  2. ^ Gerry Holloway (2005). Women And Work In Britain Since 1840. London: Routledge. p. 98. ISBN 0415259118. 
  3. ^ Walker, Linda. "Blackburn, Helen". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31905.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b Elizabeth Crawford (2001). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928. London: Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 0415239265. 
  5. ^ Stephanie Green (2013). The Public Lives of Charlotte and Marie Stopes. London: Pickering & Chatto. p. 89. ISBN 9781848932388. 
  6. ^ Elizabeth Crawford (2001). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928. London: Routledge. p. 90. ISBN 0415239265. 
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, Charlotte Fell (1912). "Blackburn, Helen". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

External links[edit]