A plaque commemorating one of Aberdeen’s most famous suffragettes could soon be erected in her honour.
Caroline Phillips, born in Kintore in 1874, made a name for herself as a standout feminist and a journalist of high regard at the Aberdeen Daily Journal, the predecessor to the Press and Journal.
Over the course of her life, Ms Phillips campaigned passionately for women’s rights, and became the leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) at 41 Union Street from 1907 to 1909.
There were very few female journalists at the time and many organisations vehemently opposed suffrage, including the Aberdeen Daily Journal.
But Ms Phillips believed in the cause so strongly that she actively campaigned for it and corresponded with some of the most influential of the suffragettes – even at the risk of losing her job over her support for the movement.
From organising demonstrations to carrying out good-natured vandalism in the name of feminism at the city’s golf courses, Ms Phillips made a significant difference for women in the north-east of Scotland.
And now, Aberdeen City Council has received an application from the Aberdeen Women’s Alliance to erect a small plaque in her memory at 41 Union Street, where she worked with suffragettes from all walks of life.
It is hoped the memorial could be put in place by the end of November, to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave the vote to women over the age of 30 who met certain requirements.
If it is approved by the city council, it will be the first plaque in Aberdeen to represent the suffragettes.
In their application, the Aberdeen Women’s Alliance highlighted the many achievements of Ms Phillips, as well as her run-ins with her boss at the Aberdeen Daily Journal.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
The application said: “The editor of the Aberdeen Journal initially allowed her to use the Journal’s address as her correspondence address, but later complained when she was too closely associated with women’s suffrage.
“In 1907, Caroline organised a train to take suffragettes from Aberdeen to Edinburgh to take part in a suffrage demonstration.
“This was preceded by a meeting in Aberdeen attended by many of the most prominent suffragettes – Christabel Pankhurst, Mrs Despard, Mrs Pethick Lawrence, Mrs Billington Greig and Helen Fraser, who were accompanied on the platform by Caroline Phillips.
“Although Caroline was not opposed to violent protest, her own actions were peaceful.
“She would walk around golf courses at dawn, replacing each flag with a Votes for Women flag.”
Ms Phillip’s correspondence with the leading figures of the suffragettes part of the Aberdeen Art Gallery’s archives.
Funding for the plaque would come from the Aberdeen Women’s Alliance if it is approved.
Remembering Caroline Phillips
The Aberdeen Women’s Alliance hope to erect their plaque in memory of Caroline Phillips in time for a new festival this month in the city to commemorate 100 years of women’s right to vote.
The Rise Up Quines event will be held in venues all throughout the Granite City from November 12 to 18, and is designed to inspire women of all backgrounds to be proud of who they are.
The festival, which will include talks, films, exhibitions, musical performances, theatre shows, workshops and more, will seek to tell the tale of the suffragettes and their fight for equality, and highlight how feminism has changed over the last century to the state the movement is in today.
In addition to creating a plaque to commemorate Ms Phillips, the festival will also include a talk on her impact on the suffrage movement, and a tour of Aberdeen’s historic collections, which include her letters she sent to and from the leaders of the national campaign.
Professor Sarah Pedersen , author of The Scottish Suffragettes book and an expert on the life of Ms Phillips, said: “We are very lucky in the north-east that we have local women and their histories to draw on from more than a century ago, which represent the struggle women had to win the right to vote in elections in the UK.
“We’re looking forward to both educating and inspiring audiences through the Rise Up Quines festival, and hope that everyone will join us in celebrating the local and national suffragette movement and national struggle for women across the UK to win the right to vote, which achieved so much for women 100 years ago.”
To find out more, visit www.riseupquines.com