In September, Glasgow Women’s Library launched a public fundraising appeal to enable us to purchase a hunger strike medal awarded to suffragette Maud Joachim in 1909 by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The medal, previously in a private collection, was up for auction at Bonhams in London on 3rd October 2023.
Maud Joachim was arrested, with the claim that she had, “conducted herself in a disorderly manner and committed a breach of the peace” in Dundee on the 20th October 1909, along with Adela Pankhurst, Helen Archdale, Catherine Corbett and Laura Evans. They had interrupted a meeting led by Winston Churchill the day before, the 19th October, (when interviewed later he called them ‘a band of silly, neurotic, hysterical women‘) by leading a crowd and shouting ‘This way! Votes for Women!’ Maud went to prison where she was released after a four day hunger strike.
We knew that raising the money for a successful bid for Maud’s medal would be a challenge, but we did it! Media coverage in The Guardian and on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour helped, and the response was overwhelming.
Our winning bid was £32,500, and with the added Buyers’ Premium of £9,100, the total owed to Bonhams was £41,600. With a grant from the National Fund for Acquisitions* secured of £13,200, this left us to fundraise a massive £28,400 to meet the costs. We raised exactly £28,500, with 544 people donating. This is exceptional crowd-source fundraising, and we would like to thank everyone who donated for their generosity.
We were also thrilled to be contacted by several members of the Joachim family, who lent their full support to our campaign, and are all delighted that Maud’s medal is now in the collection at Glasgow Women’s Library.
GWL Co-Directors Adele Patrick and Sue John (who lead the fundraising campaign) collected Maud’s medal from Bonhams in person on 11th October. Sue reflected, “It was a privilege to finally hold Maud’s medal–such a small and humble item, but with huge significance in suffrage history. It was an emotional moment, and a reminder of the bravery of generations before us. Maud’s medal will be treasured at Glasgow Women’s Library–a symbol of resolve, hope, celebration and activism in the past, present and into the future.”
We can now see the inscription on the back of the horizontal purple, white and green bar, confirming that Maud was force fed on 1st March 1912, during another period of imprisonment.
On 19th October 2023, exactly 114 years after disrupting Churchill’s meeting in Dundee, we pay tribute to Maud, and to all other courageous suffrage activists that endured violence, abuse, humiliation, intimidation and imprisonment so that women could vote.
*The National Fund for Acquisitions, administered with Scottish Government funding by National Museums Scotland, contributes towards the acquisition of objects for the collections of museums, galleries, libraries and archives throughout Scotland. Find out more about the work of the National Fund for Acquisitions on the National Museums Scotland website