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Women's Suffrage: Historical Documents

Historical Documents

1. Copies of the first pages of the 1952 and 1958 petitions
1952 Petition (393KB PDF)
1958 Petition (344KB PDF)
1958 Petition – 2nd page (356KB PDF)

2. Select pages from the 1952 and 1958 petitions (originals)

3. Sylvia Laramore-Crawford’s letters to the Editor of the Tribune in 1954

4. Doris Johnson’s speech to Members of the House of Assembly on January 19, 1959.

5. Voter’s card belonging to Emma Jane Poitier (for 1962 election)

24th April, 1891-16th September, 1983

Emma Jane Poitier (nee Hepburn) was born in Duncan Town, Ragged Island on 24th April, 1891. Her parents, Isaiah and Mariah Hepburn (nee Lockhart) were entrepreneurs, Isaiah in the salt trade and Mariah in straw craft. These hard working parents instilled in Emma Jane and her eleven siblings, the qualities of honesty, thrift, hard work and the need to be of service to others.
Emma excelled in the All-Age school, becoming a monitor at the age of twelve. It was in this setting that she would come to meet her future husband, James Garfield Poitier, a Head teacher who hailed from Orange Creek, Cat Island. James Garfied Poitier and Emma Jane Poitier were married on 4th September, 1912.
James Garfield Poitier was employed by the Board of Education and was called upon to serve throughout the Out Islands of The Bahamas. He served in Long Cay (Fortune Island), Long Island, Eleuthera, Cat Island and Grand Bahama before being re-deployed to New Providence where his last posting was Sandilands All-Age School in Fox Hill Village.  Each time James Garfield was given a new assignment Emma Jane would pack up her growing family (eleven children) and join her husband.
As a home-maker, Emma Jane Poitier would, as her parents had done for her and her siblings, ensure that the values of honesty, hard work, excellence in education and service to others were instilled in her children. She led by example.
Shortly after the family arrived in Fox Hill, Emma Jane became involved in the Fox Hill Branch of the Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. She also worked with Mother Tyler, who opened a training school for domestics. 
When James Garfield fell ill and subsequently died on 1st January, 1937, the family re-located to Masons Addition where Emma Jane would become a community activist and philanthropist. She was a founding member of the Bahamas Mothers’ Club, a member of the Good Samaritan Lodge, a member of The Ragged Island Progressive Association and a Class Leader in Wesley Methodist Church in Grants’ Town. She was an advocate and supporter of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and an ardent supporter of the fledgling Progressive Liberal Party.  In fact, many of the early PLP meetings in the Masons Addition area were held on her front porch.
Fiercely independent, Emma Jane Poitier was an entrepreneur, selling straw mats and opening a convenience store which serviced many of the neighbourhood families.  
She was a fierce nationalist who supported each of the major events in Bahamian History that would eventually lead to Bahamian independence. This pride in country was reflected each and every morning  when Emma Jane Poitier would raise the Bahamian flag on the flag pole attached to her front porch.  


6. Women’s Suffrage In The British Commonwealth, United States, Haiti

7. “Suffrage Movement Launches Programme: Althea Mortimer Speaks.” June Mapplethorpe Stevenson. The Nassau Herald, March 22, 1961 (1.4MB PDF)

7. Election Day Announcement, 1962, The Nassau Daily Tribune (750KB PDF)

8. “Mary Ingraham Broadcasts on Women’s Suffrage.” The Nassau Guardian, 1962 (1.3MB PDF)

9. “It’s November 26.” The Nassau Guardian, 1962.

10. “Franchise for Bahamian Women In June 1962.” The Nassau Daily Tribune. (1.6MB PDF)

11. Eugenia Lockhart and Doris Johnson in London. Clipping from the Guardian. (2.1MB PDF)

12. “Women Stage Flag Day” Guardian,