The Helen Moyes Collection

A small collection of correspondence and news cuttings relating to Helen Moyes (1881-1979), activist in the women’s suffrage movement, public speaker and the first woman to be selected as a parliamentary candidate in Glasgow.

About Helen Moyes

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Portrait photograph of Helen Fraser, The Common Cause 2 December 1909

Helen Moyes (nee Fraser) was born in Leeds to Scottish parents who had moved there from Caithness. Her father then went to Glasgow with his family where he established the wholesale clothing firm of Fraser, Ross & Co. In 1906 Helen’s life was transformed when she heard Teresa Billington-Greig, one of the early supporters of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), give a talk about the importance of votes for women. She became the first Scottish WSPU organiser but resigned when the organisation decided to adopt a more militant strategy and went to work for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

After the United States entered the First World War, she was asked to undertake a lengthy speaking tour of the United States to raise awareness of the war effort. After the war, she joined the campaign to elect women as Members of Parliament, and was the first woman to be adopted as an official candidate in Scotland, standing unsuccessfully for National Liberal Party at Glasgow Govan in 1922 and Hamilton in 1923. Many of the press cuttings in the collection are about her political campaigns and her speaking engagements. In 1938 she emigrated to Australia where her brother James was living and a year later married James Moyes, a teacher. At the age of 90 she wrote an autobiography, included with the collection, entitled A Woman In A Man’s World (1971).

About the collection

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Annie Burnett Smith and Helen Fraser, The Baillie

The collection was sent to The Mitchell Library from Helen Moye’s home in Australia in 1978 directing the Librarian to accept the enclosed material saying that she would like Glasgow to ‘have something’ from her.

The collection comprises letters, press cuttings, ephemera and a book.

Finding aid

Helen Moyes Collection listing (PDF, 121KB)

Further reading

Fraser, Helen (1918) Women and War Work, Project Gutenberg [e-book]

Moyes, Helen (1971) A Women in a Man’s World

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Helen Moyes interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording]

Diary and correspondence of Helen Fraser, National Library of Scotland

Three interviews by Brian Harrison with Helen Moyes from the London School of Economics Suffragette Interview website

•Interview one, 19 August 1975. View record. Listen.

•Interview two, 18 September 1975 View record. Listen.

•Interview three, December 1974 - January 1975 View record. Listen.

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