Suffragist fan, 1914

Suffragist fan, 1914

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Title: Suffragette Fan

Date shown: 1914

Dimensions: Height 26.5 cm - Width 27.5 cm (open)

Technique and other indications: Technique: paper and wood

Storage location: Marguerite Durand Library website

Contact copyright: Marguerite Durand / Roger-Viollet Library

Picture reference: OBJ 90 / 74922-1

© Marguerite Durand Library / Roger-Viollet

Publication date: March 2017

Historical context

An original initiative in favor of women's suffrage

On the occasion of the legislative elections of 1914, the dailyThe newspaper took an original initiative, spurred on by one of its editors, Gustave Téry (1870-1928). He launched a consultation with French women so that they express their position on the question of their access to universal suffrage, by depositing, on election day, a signed ballot in ballot boxes installed in various places, in Paris, in the suburbs. and in the provinces: newspaper premises, kiosks and polling sections organized by feminist groups which all joined in this demonstration. Newsletters, printed by The newspaper, were marked "I want to vote"; more than half a million women thus strongly expressed their desire to participate in political life; only 114 negative votes were counted. This referendum was highly publicized, and the photographs of the press agencies were in turn published as postcards.

The momentum, the unanimity of this "white vote", which marks a great victory for the cause, will be found on July 5, 1914, during the first major feminist street demonstration in France, in homage to Condorcet. But the First World War brought it to a halt.

Image Analysis

A feminine accessory in the service of a feminist cause

A feminine accessory par excellence, the fan, sometimes very precious, is associated with elegance, coquetry and often seduction. But it can also become a vector of propaganda or an advertising object. The fan made by The newspaper after the results of the "blank vote" combines these three functions. Offering two similar faces, elegant, with its floral decoration made fashionable by Art Nouveau, but simple by the materials used (wood and paper), it uses green and white, colors displayed during their demonstrations by the suffragettes. English, which associated it with purple. The text uses the first-person wording of the ballot slipped into the ballot box, showing the personal involvement of each "voter". But this formulation, "I want to vote", is less offensive than a "I want to vote" would have been. The fan announces the results of the ballot with precision, thus proving the seriousness with which the count was carried out. The advertising function is discreet, but clearly present at the bottom of the fan, where the title of the daily appears, with the mention of his role as organizer.


Suffragist propaganda "à la franvscomfortable "

Produced at the end of the election results, this fan becomes an object of propaganda, a communication medium for other demonstrations. It is distributed on July 5, 1914, with primroses and olive branches. Its very feminine connotation and the moderate formulation of the suffragist demand correspond to the desire to address a large audience of women, which it is a question of rallying, beyond the active activists. The latter generally carried out cautious actions, compared to those of the English suffragettes, sometimes spectacular, even violent. This fragile accessory is one of the few surviving objects testifying to the difficult conquest of citizenship by the French women.

  • women
  • women vote
  • Universal suffrage
  • feminism


Laurence KLEJMAN, Florence ROCHEFORT, Equality on the march: feminism under the Third Republic, Presses of the Fondation des sciences politiques -Des Femmes, Paris, 1989.

Anne-Sarah BOUGLE-MOALIC, The vote of the Françaises: one hundred years of debates 1848-1944, Rennes University Press, 2012.

Christine BARD, dir., First wave feminists, Rennes University Press, 2015.

To cite this article

Annie METZ, "Suffragist fan, 1914"

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