WHS Essay Prize 2019 – *Winner Announcement*

This year we have both a winner and a runner up prize in our essay competition. We are pleased to announce the winner of the WHS Leah Leneman Essay Prize for 2019 is Gina Bennett  who is currently engaged in doctoral research at the University of Texas at Arlington. The runner up for an essay which the judges described as ‘worthy of special mention’ is Kristin Hay who is in her first year of her doctoral studies at the University of Strathclyde.

The competition again saw strong competition and we would like to thank all the applicants for providing an interesting range of essays for the judges to consider.

Gina won with an accomplished essay entitled: ‘If any woman come over’: Exploring Early Modern Migration and Scotland

The judges write: This is an accomplished piece of work presented in a publishable format. It explores the lives of some of the Scotswomen ‘living within the Darien Moment’ in the last decades of the seventeenth century. New questions are asked about the significance of the role of women in migration and baptismal records are used to show how the migration of women may have contributed to the growth of Glasgow in the period. The carefully chosen examples cover women who were involved in different ways in the ill-fated Darien Venture. A couple of women actually migrated with their minister husbands; another woman took advantage of the opportunity of short-term employment to travel to Port Glasgow and look after a sailor before he sailed to the colony; some women, it is argued, only dreamed of migrating but their lives were still affected by the involvement of members of their families. It is a worthy winner.

Kristin’s essay is entitled: Token woman in the Gay Liberation Front … token lesbian in the Women’s Liberation Movement’: Experiences of lesbian-activists in Glasgow, c. 1970-1990 

The judges write: The essay began life as a BA dissertation which has been compressed and adapted, for the most part successfully, to an essay/conference paper. It is ambitious in scope, ranging from the general history of the LGBT movement, through the theory behind oral history to the sexual identities of three lesbians and their contribution to gay activism and lack of influence on feminist activism in Glasgow. There are many interesting points made along the way, such as the significance of ‘ladies’ nights’ in the Gay Centre or the importance of a humorous response to homophobia. Theories of political-lesbianism are handled confidently and there is a thoughtful treatment of the construction of identity in oral history narratives. It is a mature and thoughtful essay which could, with some editing, be put into a publishable form.

We would like to congratulate both Gina and Kristin for their interesting and thought-provoking work, and hope to see both of their essays published in due course.

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