In January 2014 discussions were held with WILPF members of the WILPF Orpington Branch and Charlotte Bill of the Clapham Film Unit about the possibility of making a film to commemorate the centenary of the founding of WILPF in 1915.
Charlotte suggested a Heritage Lottery Grant could support a film, oral history training, archive training and the making of a booklet and schools pack. The grant was awarded at the end of July.
An important part of the funding was that WILPF members and volunteers should work together on the project – that they should engage with, investigate and celebrate the heritage of those early feminists to create a film, exhibition and booklet which would tell the story to a much wider audience.
WILPF historians, Helen Kay and Katrina Gass, working with the London School of Economics, which houses the WILPF archive facilitated and structured training sessions to enable WILPF members and the new volunteers to cover as much ground as possible.
It was decided to focus on the twenty four women who got passports to attend the Hague in 1915. Each volunteer agreed to research a member from the list drawn up by Katrina Gass.
Katrina Gass organised a re enactment of August 4th 1914 with some WILPF members in costume as early feminists delivering anti war speeches and leaflets to passers by near the site of the old Kingsway Hall and delivering a letter to Downing Street.
The scenes of the women bound for The Hague in 1915, but thwarted at Tilbury by the closure of the North Sea to shipping, were re-enacted with the archive researchers and WILPF members embodying the persons they had researched.
A scene was also filmed in Manchester to show that the early WILPF people came from all over the UK. The journeys of the Envoys was also represented in the documentary.
Click on the booklet cover (right) to read contents
Read the blog Director, Charlotte Bill, wrote about the filming process for Marc Palen, an Exeter academic.
All of those participating are very proud of the project and have gained insight and knowledge into WILPF, its history, research and documentary making processes.
Our thanks to all those who made this project possible
Clara, a volunteer on the history project has written of her experiences for our blog:
How I came to dress as an Edwardian lady
Reaching back into the past during a lunch break
Reflections on finding a costume for her part as Anne Cobden-Sanderson
The joy of meeting like-minded people who feel as passionate about a cause as you do
Photographs from the filming by Anna Watson
WILPF and Clapham Film Unit submitted an entry to the Women’s History Network Community History Prize for our work on the “These Dangerous Women” project. We were very pleased to be awarded a Highly Commended Certificate.