Derek Stirling

Adolfo Camarillo High School | Camarillo, CA | 10th

Inspirational Family Member
My Great-Great-Grandmother

Mabel Pauline Conway was the grandmother of my grandmother, Kathy Stirling. Kathy is my dad’s mother. Mabel was born in either 1887 or 1888 on the 14th of October in Seattle, Washington, and was the youngest of five children. The reason for the unknown year of her birth is because her birth certificate was burned in the Seattle fire. Being alive during the year 1920, when women were finally granted the right to vote, it is assumed that she was most likely one of/or the first woman in my family to vote. By being one of the first women to vote in my family, she has left a great legacy for the rest of her family. 

Seattle would be the place where she spent most of her life and eventually met her husband. She met her husband, Bert Conway, in 1912 and was married to him in 1913 on May 14th in Tacoma, Washington. Bert was born Canadian but immigrated to the United States in 1884 because of his father’s new milling business in Madrid, New York. After their marriage, they went back to Seattle to settle down and raise a family where they had one son, Dick Conway. Unfortunately, medical reasons would prevent them from having more children. 

Mabel had red hair and was hazel eyed with a fair complexion that was inherited from her father, Hans. Her mother, Oline, had dark hair and complexion. Mabel was known to play the piano. At family gatherings, she would play songs such as, “Beautiful Ohio” and “Shall We Gather at the River”. Mabel also had a sense of humor. You could always find Mabel in silly clothes or telling jokes. Mabel Conway is a significant member of my family for being one of the first women in my family to vote and sharing her great personality and talent. 

Historical Figure I Admire
Christabel Pankhurst

Christabel Pankhurst was a lawyer and co-founder of the W.S.P.U., which was also known as the Women’s Social Political Union. Christabel was the daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, and born on September 22, 1880, in Manchester, England. Christabel is most known for the militant tactics that essentially gave the suffragettes their name. As a suffragette, she would usually rely on a more aggressive stance to spread her opinions on women’s right to vote. Along with her mother Emmeline, she had a younger sister named Sylvia. All three were powerful suffragettes. 

Christabel helped her mother establish the W.S.P.U. This union battled for the women’s right to vote. Christabel’s first main movement against the unjust rights for women was in 1905 with her friend Annie Kenney when they interrupted a Liberal Party meeting holding up a banner that said, “Votes for Women.” Annie Kenney was a former W.S.P.U member. The two were forced to leave, but that did not stop them. They then tried to make a speech outside the Free Trade Hall where that meeting was being held. Unfortunately, they were both arrested shortly after, and Christabel was given the nickname “Queen of the Mob” from the press. After they were released, however, Christabel spoke in that same building at a meeting of the Independent Labour party. With her law degree, Christabel was a very powerful spokesperson for the W.S.P.U. At her most famous speech in June of 1908, at London’s Hyde Park, 500,000 people rallied together to hear her. Later that October, Christabel was cross-examining government officials in court. 

Christabel and her mother Emmeline were then imprisoned for two and a half months for encouraging the suffragists to storm Parliament. In 1912, the W.S.P.U started to use more aggressive tactics. Christabel was once again under threat of arrest, but this time for conspiracy. She would then escape to Paris, France in 1913. In France, she edited the newspaper called The Suffragette. Along with her job as an editor, Christabel also conducted the organization’s militant actions all the way from her safe place in Paris. The next year, in 1914, she also supported the war versus Germany. Two years after her exile, Christabel would then move back to England. At the end of WWI, women were given the right to vote in England. In 1918, she went into the election as a Women’s Party Candidate. However, she lost to a candidate of the Labour Party named John Davison. Following WWI and the W.S.P.U’s disbanding, she became an evangelist, preaching about the second coming of Jesus Christ. In 1936, Christabel was honored by King George the Fifth,  being named, “Dame of the British Empire.” Four years later she moved to the United States of America. Christabel then died in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 1958. Throughout Christabel Pankhurst’s inspiring life, she paved the way for many female lawyers, speakers, and activists to follow their dreams and make a difference in the world today.

What the Project Means to Me

Throughout my journey of creating this project, I have learned many things from the two women I have studied. This new knowledge of mine have helped me think about things in new ways and change myself for the better. I also believe that it is very important to vote in all levels of law. The more you vote, the more your voice is heard and you can make a difference. I have also learned many things that I have not known before about my family and another country’s history.

Christabel Pankhurst was a suffragette in England. Although she served a reasonable amount of time in jail, she did not give up fighting for what she believed in. Her legacy of hard work and determination have impacted many modern-day activists. She also showcases an ethic of doing whatever you need to do to reach your goals, even if it means breaking the law. It was very interesting for me to learn about what it would be like to be a woman in England while they had no right to vote, and what women in the W.S.P.U had to deal with. Christabel has taught me that you should never give up, even if it means getting into trouble and possibly moving to another country.

My grandma’s grandmother, Mabel Conway, has also taught me a few valuable lessons. She has taught me to never hide your talents, like how she would play the piano for everyone and display her sense of humor. She has also taught me that I will have a legacy and need to make that legacy how I want others to see it. Overall this project has impacted my life greatly and taught me valuable lessons I will never forget.

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