Suffragette and labour activist
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.