Suf­fragette and labour ac­tivist

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - SERVICE -

Born in 1893, Jessie Stephen was a tai­lor’s daugh­ter who worked for the Co-op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety in Glas­gow. She won a scholaar­ship when she was 14 but had to leave school the fol­lowinng year when her father was tem­po­rar­ily un­em­ployed. Jessie wwent into do­mes­tic ser­vice in Glas­gow, yet she also be­camee a labour ac­tivist at an early age. She was made vi­cepres­i­dennt of the Mary­hill branch of the In­de­pen­dent Labour Partty at the agge of 16. She was also a mil­i­tant suf­fragette and a mem­ber­ber of the Wom­men’s So­cial and Political Union, who dropped acid into pil­lar boxes while wear­ing her maaid’s uni­form. In 1913, Jessie founded a ser­vants’ union in Glas­gow to im­prove the lot of ddo­mes­tic ser­vants. Al­though there were mi­nor suc­cesses, it was dif­fi­cult to re­cruit mmembers and the union even­tu­ally be­came af­fil­i­ated to the Do­mes­tic Work­ers’ Union of Great Bri­tain. In Lon­don, Jessie worked for var­i­ous women’s rights or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the Work­ers’ Suf­frage Fed­er­a­tion, the Min­istry of Re­con­struc­tion and the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Women Work­ers. In later years, she be­came a jour­nal­ist and ran her own sec­re­tar­ial agency. She was a life­long trade union ac­tivist un­til she died in 1979, at the age of 86.

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