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Emma Paterson (1848-1886)

Emma Paterson (1848-1886) née Smith, worked as a bookbinder and teacher before becoming assistant secretary of the Working Men's Club and Institute Union in 1867. In 1872, she became secretary of the Women's Suffrage Association, but left when she married in 1873. During a visit to the USA she was impressed by unions organised solely by and for women, and in 1874 she founded the Women's Protective and Provident League (later the Women's Trade Union League) with the aim of establishing unions in every trade in which women worked.

By her death, over thirty had been established in dressmaking, bookbinding, millinery and other trades. In 1875, she and Edith Simcox became the first women delegates to the Trades Union Congress and she continued to attend regularly until her death. Although a supporter of the Factory Inspectorate (and argued for women inspectors to be appointed), as with many other feminists she was opposed to protective legislation exclusively for women which she saw as restricting their access to higher paid jobs and inappropriate when women had no political influence to frame such legislation.

Title Emma Paterson (1848-1886)
Maker --
Production Date 1850-1880
Format Photograph
Copyright --
Holding Institution TUC Library Collections, London Metropolitan University
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