Marjory Lees Scrapbook

We have many objects in our collections which relate to pastimes from games to roller skates, rugby caps to cricket trophies. However, whilst looking through the collection before Lockdown I came across a scrapbook presented to Marjory Lees. This memento was put together by the Women’s Suffrage Society in 1919 after women had successfully secured the vote and the organisation was disbanded.

Front cover of Victorian scrapbook with the word Album and image of sunset with birds and floral motif.

We have several scrapbooks in our collections dating from the Victorian and Edwardian period. Some reflect personal passions such as nature or document travels. Others were created by children and have a religious focus; most likely a quiet Sunday afternoon activity to teach them about Christianity.

Scrapbooking was very popular at this time mainly due to the mass production of printed material and the availability of newspaper clippings.

One scrapbook dating from between the 1830-1880s brings together current events, such as the abolition of slavery and the death of the Duke of Wellington, flower pressings, postcards, hand-painted watercolours, verses and wedding invitations. This scrapbook is beautiful decorated with exquisite borders and calligraphy.

The Marjory Lees scrapbook is a fascination collection of photographs, maps and documents which record of the activities of the Oldham Women’s Suffrage Society and Marjory’s role as their leader.  Material includes their involvement in the Great Pilgrimage which saw 500,000 people march to London to protest for votes for women. The group travelled to London in a caravan named the Ark – there is even a photograph of Marjory doing the washing up. This photograph was probably staged as Marjory was from a wealthy family and her diary shows that on the Pilgrimage she mainly stayed with wealthy friends and local dignitaries rather than remaining with the caravan.

Internal page of Marjory Lees scrapbook with two photographs the  first shows the Oldham Women Suffrage Society and the Arc Caravan. The bottom photo shows Marjory Lees and two other women doing the washing up.
Top: Oldham Women Suffrage Society and the Arc Caravan Bottom: Marjory Lees is on the right doing the washing up.

This scrapbook has inspired a recent project funded by The National Archive which allowed a small group of participants the opportunity to design their own digi-scrapbook. Members of the group focused on many different themes including family history, birds found in Oldham and their childhood home. As part of this 8-week project, the Marjory Lees scrapbook was also digitised to make it easier for people to access its contents and to help limit future handling so it is preserved for future generations. The scrapbook can be seen on display in Oldham Stories and you can see the newly digitised book below.

Discover more, we have hundreds of objects and documents in our collections. Why not visit our Collections page or search our collection?