Blackburn, Helen (1842–1903)

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Blackburn, Helen (1842–1903)

Irish suffragist. Born in Knightstown, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, Ireland, on May 25, 1842; died in London, England, on January 11, 1903; buried in Brompton cemetery; daughter of a civil engineer who was manager of the Knight of Kerry's slate quarries on the island.

Selected writings:

Handbook for Women engaged in Social and Political Work (1881); The Condition of Working Women (with Jessie Boucherett, 1896); Women's Suffrage: a Record of the Movement in the British Isles (1902); Women under the Factory Acts (1903).

Still in her teens, Helen Blackburn moved from Ireland to London in 1859. She began her work on behalf of women's suffrage in 1874, serving as secretary for the National Society of Women's Suffrage until 1895. Giving up activist work to care for her ailing father who had been in a riding accident (he died three years later), she became editor of the Englishwoman's Review (1881–90) and secretary of the West of England Suffrage Society. Blackburn's interests expanded to include women in industry, and in 1885 she organized an exhibition of women's industries in Bristol. She later founded the Freedom of Labour Defence, which was active in protecting the earning capability and personal liberties of women. Among her writings is a classic history, Women's Suffrage: A Record of the Movement in the British Isles (1902), as well as several books on women in industry.