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Distant SistersAustralasian Women and the International Struggle for the Vote, 1880-1914$
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James Keating

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526140951

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526140968

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

The business of correspondence: Politics, friendship, and intimacy in suffragists’ letters

The business of correspondence: Politics, friendship, and intimacy in suffragists’ letters

Chapter:
(p.98) 3 The business of correspondence: Politics, friendship, and intimacy in suffragists’ letters
Source:
Distant Sisters
Author(s):

James Keating

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526140968.00010

This chapter considers the politics and practice of Australian and New Zealand suffragists’ letter writing. Tracing Australasian women’s intercolonial and international circuits of discussion, it finds them smaller, more functional, and less complete than previously described. Examining the scribbled letters, typewritten communiques, and signed cartes-de-visite sent between suffragists and preserved in organisational archives and personal scrapbooks, it also scrutinises the material and emotional cultures of feminist correspondence, uncovering the intimate practices that bound suffragists into an international movement. It concludes with a close reading of the expatriate British libertarian and social purity activist Mary Steadman Aldis’ 1894–95 campaign to harness metropolitan outrage to force the reform of New Zealand’s dormant Contagious Diseases Act. Juxtaposing tropes of epistolary friendship against the disruptive possibilities of letter writing, it sheds new light on a moment when cracks emerged in the relationship between enfranchised and disenfranchised women in the English-speaking world.

Keywords:   Australia, cartes-de-visite, Contagious Diseases Acts, correspondence, intimate practices, letter writing, material culture, New Zealand, scrapbooks

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