Labour History Review

Campaigning Journalism: The Clarion, The Daily Citizen, and the Protection of Women Workers, 1898-1912

Labour History Review (2002), 67, (3), 281–297.

Abstract

Between 1898 and 1912 numerous newspapers published exposés and editorials about the conditions of women's work in diverse trades and lobbied for the enactment of protective labour legislation; these papers spanned the political spectrum. This article examines how two significant left-wing papers, Robert Blatchford's Clarion and Labour's first daily newspaper, the Daily Citizen, handled these issues. The former supported government protection for women poisoned by their work in the match and pottery trades; the latter sought aid for endangered and sweated women in the hollow-ware trade. These left-wing newspapers incorporated techniques and strategies that the mainstream press had pioneered and their position on women's work was indistinguishable from their new liberal counterparts.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

For excellent analysis of the various aspects of the new journalism, see Joel Weiner (ed.), Papers for the Millions: the New Journalism in Britain, 1850-1914, Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 1988. Google Scholar

Stead outlined this idea in ‘Government by journalism’, Contemporary Review, 49, 1888, pp. 653-74 which has been discussed in Roy Boston, ‘W. T. Stead and democracy by journalism’, in Weiner (ed.), Papers for the Millions, pp. 91-106 and Raymond L. Schults, Crusader in Babylon: W. T. Stead and the Pall Mall Gazette, Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 1972. Google Scholar

See Carolyn Malone, ‘Sensational stories, endangered bodies: women's work and the new journalism in England in the 1890s’, Albion, 31, 1, 1999, pp. 49-71. Google Scholar

For analysis of the public discourse on the problematic woman worker, see Sally Alexander, ‘Women, class, and sexual difference in the 1830s and 1840s: some reflections on the writing of a feminist history’, History Workshop Journal, 17, 1984, pp. 125-49; Robert Gray, The Factory Question and Industrial England, 1830-1860, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 21-58; Carolyn Malone, ‘Gendered discourses and the making of protective labor legislation in England, 1830-1914’, Journal of British Studies, 73, 2, 1998, pp. 166-91; Sonya O. Rose, Limited Livelihoods: Gender and Class in Nineteenth Century England, Berkeley, University of California, 1992, pp. 59-75; Deborah Valenze, The First Industrial Woman, New York, Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. 98-103; and Marianna Valverde, ‘"Giving the female a domestic turn": the social, legal, and moral regulation of women's work in the British cotton mills’, Journal of Social History, 21, 4, 1988, pp. 619-34. Google Scholar

Jenny Morris, Women Workers and the Sweated Trades: The Origins of Minimum Wage Legislation, Aldershot, Gower, 1986, p. 165. Women Workers and the Sweated Trades: The Origins of Minimum Wage Legislation 165 Google Scholar

I am borrowing this terminology from Deian Hopkins who has defined the ‘left-wing’ press as ‘those papers that espouse socialism or one of its variants and generally regarded themselves as politically on the opposite side, so to speak, of the conventional press’ (Hopkins, ‘The left-wing press and the new journalism’, in Weiner (ed.), Papers for the Millions, p. 226). Campaigning journalism is also discussed by Hopkins. Google Scholar

K. Snowden, ‘The broken women: the lesson of the struggle’, Daily Citizen, 20 November 1913. ‘The broken women: the lesson of the struggle’ Daily Citizen Google Scholar

See Karen Hunt, Equivocal Feminists: The Social Democratic Federation and the Woman Question 1884-1911, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 118-37, 142-51. Equivocal Feminists: The Social Democratic Federation and the Woman Question 1884-1911 118 37 Google Scholar

Histories of the two papers include R. J. Holton, ‘Daily Herald versus Daily Citizen’, International Review of Social History, 19, 3, 1974, pp. 347-76; Deian Hopkin, ‘The Labour Party press’, in K. D. Brown (ed.), The First Labour Party, 1906-1914, London, Croom Helm, 1985, pp. 105-28; and ‘The socialist press in Britain, 1890-1910’, in George Boyce, James Curran, and Pauline Wingate (eds), Newspaper History from the Seventeenth Century to the Present Day, London, Constable, pp. 294-306. See Hopkins, ‘The left-wing press and the new journalism’, and, for an excellent analysis of the problematic relationship between socialism and currents in the new journalism, Chris Waters, British Socialists and the Politics of Popular Culture, 1884-1914, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1990, pp. 180-4. ‘Daily Herald versus Daily Citizen’ International Review of Social History 19 347 76 Google Scholar

For continuities between the Labour Party and new liberalism, see John Belcham, Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain, New York, St. Martin's Press, 1996; Eugenio F. Biagini and Alistair J. Reid (eds), Currents of Radicalism: Popular Radicalism, Organised Labour and Party Politics 1850-1914, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991; P. F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1971; H. V. Emy, Liberals, Radicals, and Social Politics, 1892-1914, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1973; and Mike Savage and Andrew Miles, The Remaking of the British Working Class, 1840-1940, New York, Routledge, 1994. Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain Google Scholar

These circulation figures were gathered from ‘Robert Blatchford’, in Joyce Bellamy and John Saville (eds), Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 4, London, MacMillan, 1977, p. 36. Dictionary of National Biography 4 36 Google Scholar

Margaret Cole, Makers of the Labour Movement, London, Longman, Green and Co., 1948, p. 195. Makers of the Labour Movement 195 Google Scholar

Blatchford's brand of journalism was not without critics. One was Keir Hardie who wrote of the Clarion in 1903, ‘Socialism is a serious task, demanding serious work at the hands of its advocates, and anything which introduces levity or frivolity into the movement is hindering, not helping, its progress’ (Laurence Thompson, Robert Blatchford: Portrait of an Englishman, London, Victor Gollancz, 1951, p. 117). Google Scholar

Blatchford quoted in Thompson, Robert Blatchford, p. 114. Google Scholar

Robert Blatchford, My Eighty Years, London, Cassell, 1931, p. 215. My Eighty Years 215 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See Karen Hunt and June Hannam, ‘Propagandising as socialist women: the case of women's columns in British Socialist newspapers, 1884-1914’, in B. Taithe and T. Thornton (eds), Propaganda, Political Rhetoric and Identity, 1300-2000, Sutton, Stroud, 1999, pp. 174-6. Google Scholar

Newspaper stories about women's work at the Bryant and May have received some attention because of the famous 1888 strike. See, for example, Barbara Harrison, ‘The politics of occupational ill-health in late nineteenth century Britain: the case of the match industry’, Sociology of Health and Illness, 17, 1, 1995, pp. 20-41; Lowell J. Satre, ‘After the match girls’ strike: Bryant and May in the 1890s, Victorian Studies, 26, 1, 1982, pp. 7-31; and Judith Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1992, pp. 76-80. Google Scholar

‘The "phos": a terrible disease that scourges the matchmakers’, Star, 18 January 1892. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

‘Prohibited: how "phossy jaw" is prevented abroad’, Star, 17 June 1898. Google Scholar

‘The lurid light’, Clarion, 11 June 1898. Google Scholar

Clarion, 11 June 1898. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 17 June 1899. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Henry W. Massingham, The London Daily Press, London, Religious Tract Society, 1892, p. 121. For more details about the paper's campaign see Malone, ‘Sensational Stories’, pp. 60-6. The London Daily Press 121 Google Scholar

Evelyn March-Phillipps identified him as their author in ‘Factory legislation for women’, Fortnightly Review, 62, 341, 1895, p. 743. Nash had a long standing interest in labour issues; among other things he collected money for the match girls during their 1888 strike and co-authored a book on the 1889 London dock strike. Google Scholar

‘Lead in the home: infanticide in the Potteries: weeping for her children because they are not’, Daily Chronicle, 27 June 1898. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Vaughan Nash had suggested this course of action immediately after his visit to the Potteries. See ‘Blind from the lead: a visit to the pottery girls II: what will Sir Matthew Ridley do?’ Daily Chronicle, 19 May 1898. Google Scholar

‘White slavery in the Potteries: crusade against lead poisoning by Bezique’, Clarion, 14 May 1898. Google Scholar

Another reporter revisited the Potteries the following year and published ‘A street sight in the Potteries’, Clarion, 16 September 1899. Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 20 January 1898. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 12 February 1898. Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 23 April 1898. Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 18 June 1898. Google Scholar

‘White slavery in the Potteries: lead victims and remedies’, Clarion, 28 May 1898. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 20 August 1898. Tuckwell of the WTUL and Canon Charles Gore of the Christian Social Union started a Leadless Glaze Campaign in 1897. See, articles published in 1900 in the Christian Social Union's paper, The Commonwealth; Tuckwell, ‘Commercial manslaughter’, Nineteenth Century, 44, 1898, p. 258; and Constance Smith: A Short Memoir, London, Duckworth, 1931. Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 8 April 1899. Google Scholar

‘Our woman's letter’, Clarion, 19 August 1899. Google Scholar

For an analysis of socialist women and the politics of consumption see Karen Hunt, ‘Negotiating the boundaries of the domestic: British socialist women and the politics of consumption’, Women's History Review, 9, 2, 2000, pp. 389-410. ‘Negotiating the boundaries of the domestic: British socialist women and the politics of consumption’ Women's History Review 9 389 410 Google Scholar

‘The lurid light’, Clarion, 11 June 1898. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Star, 17 January 1888. Google Scholar

‘What we think — Congrats to match girls and leaders in victory’, Star, 18 July 1888. Google Scholar

‘White lead martyrs’, Star, 21 May 1898 and ‘Home office ineptitude: what we think — potter's rot and Ridley’, Star, 30 July 1898. Google Scholar

Daily Chronicle, 19 May 1898. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

‘The workwomen of Staffordshire’, Daily Citizen, 5 November 1912. Google Scholar

‘Our purpose: "the Daily Citizen" and its work: new national force and champion of the rights of the people’, Daily Citizen, 8 October 1912. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Holton, ‘Daily Herald‘, p. 349. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

‘Sweated women: Black Country strike scenes: hollow-ware makers fight to live: women as pickets’, Daily Citizen, 5 November 1912. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

‘Slavery in the Black Country: sweated women's struggle: factory horrors and blighted lives’, Daily Citizen, 7 November 1912. Google Scholar

‘Sweated women: hopeless lives in the Black Country: wail of children: profits wrung from sweat and blood’, Daily Citizen, 6 November 1912. Google Scholar

‘Dogs: outrageous function at a London club’, Daily Citizen, 6 November 1912. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Gray, The Factory Question, p. 39. Google Scholar

Gray's analysis points to the multiple reasons for the use of this image (Gray, The Factory Question, pp. 37-47). Google Scholar

Gray, The Factory Question, p. 43. Google Scholar

Janet Toole, ‘Workers and slaves: class relations in South Lancashire in the time of the cotton famine’, Labour History Review, 63, 2, 1998, p. 165. ‘Workers and slaves: class relations in South Lancashire in the time of the cotton famine’ Labour History Review 63 165 Google Scholar

‘Black Country slavery’, Star, 23 March 1891. Google Scholar

‘Sweated women: Black Country strike scenes’, Daily Citizen, 5 November 1912. Google Scholar

Mary MacArthur, ‘Slaves of the forge: the women of Cradley Heath’, Christian Commonwealth, 7 September 1910. ‘Slaves of the forge: the women of Cradley Heath’ Christian Commonwealth Google Scholar

The exhibition garnered tremendous publicity and praise in other newspapers ranging from the Daily Chronicle to the Clarion and Keir Hardie's Labour Leader. See, for example, George R. Sims, ‘Princess and toilers: sympathy with "sweated women workers"’, Daily Chronicle, 17 May 1906; Julia Dawson, ‘Our women's letter’, Clarion, 6 April and 6 July 1906; R. B. Suthers, ‘The cannibal exhibition’, Clarion, 18 May 1906; and T. Gavan-Duffy, ‘Two may-day exhibitions: princess, pampered dogs, and the sweated poor’, Labour Leader, 11 May 1906. Google Scholar

Introduction to Clementina Black, Sweated Industry and the Minimum Wage, London, Duckworth, 1907, p. x. Google Scholar

‘The white slaves: to-day's ceremony at the Queen's Hall: some typical cases’, Daily News, 2 May 1906. Google Scholar

Daily Citizen, 8 November 1912. Google Scholar

K. Snowden, ‘Justified indictment’, Daily Citizen, 18 November 1912. ‘Justified indictment’ Daily Citizen Google Scholar

K. Snowden, ‘The case against the Home Office’, Daily Citizen, 19 November 1912. ‘The case against the Home Office’ Daily Citizen Google Scholar

K. Snowden, ‘Broken women’, Daily Citizen, 7 November 1912. ‘Broken women’ Daily Citizen Google Scholar

K. Snowden, ‘Premature death’, Daily Citizen, 8 November 1912. ‘Premature death’ Daily Citizen Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Daily Citizen, 19 November 1912. Google Scholar

‘The broken women: Home Office footing: dead-letter rules: five more firms surrender’, Daily Citizen, 19 November 1912. Previously, they had noted that MP J. R. Clynes had asked the Home Secretary if, given the revelations about the hollow-ware trade, it might not be included in the schedule of sweated trades. See, ‘League of rescue’, Daily Citizen, 9 November 1912. Google Scholar

See, for example, ‘Letters of note: people's thoughts’, Daily Citizen, 19 November 1912; ‘Victory for the broken women: defeat of the oppressors: Black Country's new era: success of the "Citizen" campaign: readers splendid help’, Daily Citizen, 20 November 1912; ‘The hollow-ware workers and national satisfaction with their win’, Daily Citizen, 23 November 1912; and ‘The Daily Citizen: more tributes from readers: trade union thanks’, Daily Citizen, 25 November 1912. Google Scholar

This letter was reprinted in an article, ‘The hollow-ware workers: vote of thanks to the "Daily Citizen"’, Daily Citizen, 26 November 1912. Google Scholar

‘Notes’, Women's Trade Union Review, 88, 1913, p. 2. Google Scholar

Arguments about the centrality of the sexual implications of female labour have been made in Alexander, ‘Women, class, and sexual difference’; Malone, ‘Gendered Discourses’; Valenze, The First Industrial Woman; and Valverde, ‘"Giving the female a domestic turn"’. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

For analysis of this commentary, see Rose, Limited Livelihoods, pp. 59-75. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See, for example, Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle CLass, 1780-1850, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1987, pp. 149-92. Google Scholar

See Wally Seccombe, ‘Patriarchy stabilized: the construction of the male breadwinner wage norm in nineteenth-century Britain’, Social History, 11, 1, 1986, pp. 53-75 and Colin Creighton, ‘The rise of the male breadwinner family: a reappraisal’, Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History, 38, 1996, pp. 310-37. ‘Patriarchy stabilized: the construction of the male breadwinner wage norm in nineteenth-century Britain’ Social History 11 53 75 Google Scholar

Important works on unionisation and its difficulties include Sarah Boston, Women Workers and the Trade Union Movement, London, Davis-Poynter, 1980; Sheila Lewenhak, Women and Trade Unions, London, Ernest Benn, 1977; Ellen Mappen, ‘Strategies for change: social feminist approaches to the problems of women's work’, in Angela V. John (ed.), Unequal Opportunities: Women's Employment in England, 1800-1918, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1986, pp. 235-59; Sonya Rose, ‘Gender antagonism and class conflict: exclusionary strategies of male trade unionists in nineteenth-century Britain’, Social History, 13, 2, 1988, pp. 191-208; and Deborah Thom, ‘The bundle of sticks: women, trade unionists and collective organization before 1918’, in John (ed.), Unequal Opportunities, pp. 261-89. Google Scholar

Rose, Limited Livelihoods, p. 60. Google Scholar

Hunt, Equivocal Feminists, p. 121. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

The Daily Citizen wrote an interesting article on 21 November 1912 about the victory whose title included the following lines ‘What it means to the women: end of sweating: all-round advance for the men’. This advance for the men is reminiscent of the strategy of the Nine Hour Movement of the 1870s in which working men, who wanted the nine hour day, accentuated the necessity of the shorter day for women. See Rose, Limited Livelihoods, pp. 59-75. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Malone, Carolyn