2014 Conference Information

With the 2014 WHS Annual Conference Gender, Fitness, and Sport approaching, conference organiser Dr Eilidh Macrae has provided important information for anyone attending the conference, which is given below.

The conference this year is taking place in Dundee, at Abertay University on Saturday the 27th of September.

We are very pleased to be able to welcome Professor Charlotte Macdonald who will be giving the Sue Innes Memorial Lecture on Saturday Afternoon on Beautiful Bodies: Glasgow’s 1938 gift to women and to empire.

Provisional Programme 2014 Conference

2014 WHS Conference Registration Form

WHS-Membership-Form 2014

Accommodation and Travel details WHS 2014 conference

If you have any queries about the conference, please e-mail Eilidh:




WHS Conference 2014 – Gender, Fitness and Sport

The Call for Papers for the Annual Conference is now released. The theme of the conference is Gender, Fitness and Sport.

The conference will be held at the University of Abertay, Dundee on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th of September 2014. Professor Charlotte Macdonald has been confirmed as the keynote speaker for the Sue Innes Memorial Lecture on the Friday evening. More information on registration will be released nearer the time.

Please address any questions or send paper proposals to Eilidh Macrae on the dedicated conference email address WHSconference2014@outlook.com

WHS Call for Papers Gender Fitness and Sport September 2014

Scottish Women: A Documentary History now available

Women’s History Scotland is thrilled to announce that the long awaited Scottish Women: A Documentary History is now available. Companion to the Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, it is the product of long hours of research and hard work and will prove to be a valuable addition to Scottish women’s history. A range of publicity events are in the offing for the near future, which will be announced soon.

Even more exciting, a 40% discount is available for WHS members until 30th September 2013. More information is available on the flyer.

Flyer and Order Form Documentary History

Esther Breitenbach highlights what makes this book so special:

“The book has been designed as a companion volume to the internationally acclaimed Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, and also contains illustrations of source materials. As well as appealing to educational and academic audiences, it will appeal to popular interest because the documents quoted highlight the many facets of women’s experiences, which they articulated with colour and flair. This adds important depth to understandings of everyday life and living, and the treasure trove of documentary extracts, at both a local and a national level, will fascinate readers in Scotland and beyond, and will inspire readers to rethink what they thought they knew about Scottish women.”

The membership form for Women’s History Scotland can be found here:

WHS Membership Form

Annual Conference Orkney – Registration now open!


2013 Annual Conference

Centre for Nordic Studies, UHI, Kirkwall, Orkney

3-4 May 2013

 Making, Creating, Producing:

Historical Perspectives on Women, Gender & Production

Late registrations for WHS Annual Conference in Orkney are still being received.

We’ve received a large number of submissions to the Call for Papers early this year, resulting in parallel panels and a full programme. The Conference has a range of interesting papers on offer, from women and the land, to arts and crafts, knitting and lacemaking. We have speakers joining us from the Orkney and the surrounding areas as well as international speakers from Canada and Scandinavia. In addition, the Sue Innes Memorial Lecture this year will be given by Elizabeth Ewan (Research Professor of Scottish History, University of Guelph, Canada) with the title ‘Producing Women in Pre-Modern Scotland’, followed by a civic reception. The Conference Dinner on Saturday evening will be held at the West End Hotel.

See the provisional programme for more details (correct as of 24/4/2013)

Orkney Conference Provisional Programme


If you wish to attend, please fill in a Registration Form and send it by the 12th of April, along with a cheque to:

Laura Paterson, c/o History, School of Humanities, University of Dundee, DD1 4HN.

There will be a range of interesting papers on offer at this conference, reflecting a wide range of topics around the core theme.

Any queries can be directed to l.paterson@dundee.ac.uk

Orkney 2013 Registration Form

Orkney has been recently been named as the best island destination in the UK by users of the travel website Tripadvisor – so the conference is an excellent opportunity to visit!


Conference 2012 – Guest Blogger, Morag Campbell 2

WHS Conference 2012

Morag Campbell, Open University and University of Dundee.

Blog 2

This year’s annual Women’s History Scotland conference on Women and Wellbeing: Historical Perspectives, brought together a splendid variety of participants and a correspondingly interesting selection of papers.  The subjects of the papers ranged from ‘baby farmers’ to missionaries, and from as far afield as Rhodesia, Spain, Canada and Nazi Germany; topics embraced birth control and eugenics, sexual wellbeing, mental health, pregnancy and childbirth; we heard women’s voices through letters and poetry, and just as poignantly through the letters of their husbands and families, hinting at women’s suffering, courage and determination.

The study of women’s history has necessarily encountered contradictory approaches as to how the subject of women could be written into a narrative dominated by the history of men. Many of the papers at this year’s conference examined women’s roles in relation to power structures and the society which constrained them, and their efforts to gain independence by the means available to them.  Linda Mahood introduced us to Eglantyne Jebb and her family, whose philanthropic activities, like those of many Victorian women, allowed them access, as educated women, to adventurous and also politically controversial activities otherwise denied to them by legal and social conventions.  Kirsten Elliott’s presentation on birth control clinics in early twentieth century Scotland gave an insight into women’s attempts to control their own fertility, and the opposition faced by the clinics themselves.  Joanna Geyer-Kordesch offered some challenging ideas on the nature of illness itself, and how women perceived their own recovery, or otherwise.

Lisa Pine showed us a near utopian vision of pre and post natal care in Nazi Germany, where women in need of rest and recuperation had the chance to relax on deck chairs in mountain resorts, while family at home were taken care of.   Women were seen as the nurturers of children, who were, after all, the bearers of the national future.  Their husbands wrote of the wonderful benefits of the scheme, and the glory of the nation.  The catch, of course, was that this idyllic opportunity was only available to those of ‘good hereditary stock.’ Not everyone eligible, however, was inclined to take up this offer. One suspects that many who did not, and who recoiled from the idea of handing their family over to another and  leaving their new baby to a wet nurse, may perhaps have been more perceptive and less compliant, and not likely to be regarded by the authorities as quite such an asset to the nation.

I feel I’ve learned a thing or two about attending conferences now and about getting the most out of them.  I’ve learned that the standard opening line for coffee time chat is, ‘Are you presenting a paper?’ and so no longer feel like a fraud when I have to say no.  I think I’ve learned the difference between a good and a bad PowerPoint, and the importance of presenters sticking to their allotted time.  And that the opportunity to mix with others interested in the same subject is just as valuable as the presentations themselves.

Coffee break discussions covered a wide number of topics – health care and midwives in early twentieth century Edinburgh, the medicalization of childbirth, the work of Orange women in maternal and child welfare, the role of Jacobite women, and female school teachers in Aberdeen.  It was also an excellent opportunity to test out my ideas for my dissertation topic, noting some useful suggestions and also potential pitfalls.

It was a little disappointing that there were two no-shows among the presenters, although in at least one instance this allowed time for some animated debate among the presenters.  On the whole, attending the conference was an extremely interesting and valuable experience, and definitely time well spent.  And in addition, it was a lovely excuse to spend some time in Edinburgh on a slightly rainy but otherwise glorious autumn day.

Conference 2012 – Guest Blogger Morag Campbell

WHS Conference 2012

Morag Campbell, Open University and University of Dundee.

Distance learning fits in well with full time work and family commitments, but it can be a lonely business.  Modern technology enables us to communicate with tutors and other students through online forums, webinars and online tutorials, but nothing beats face to face contact with like-minded people.

With this in mind, I’m very much looking forward to attending Women’s History Scotland’s 2012 Conference: Women and Wellbeing on October 12/13 in Edinburgh.  I’m currently studying the Open University’s MA in History, which is split into two modules – the first is an exploration of theoretical and methodological issues, followed by the study of four themes.  The end of module assessment (EMA) is effectively a dissertation proposal which students then go on to write up in the second module of the course.  I’m nearing the end of the first module, and looking forward to researching and writing my dissertation next year.

The focus of my dissertation will be constructions of female insanity in the mid-19th century, specifically in relation to social background.  I’ll be studying a group of patients admitted to Dundee Lunatic Asylum between 1835 and 1860 whose condition was attributed to the effects of childbirth and lactation.

By day, I work on a medical education journal, based at Dundee University, overseeing the peer review process from submission to production.  Although I’m a newbie at attending conferences, and I confess to being a bit nervous, I’m really looking forward to the experience and the opportunity to meet some like-minded people.

New blog!

Would you like to blog for Women’s History Scotland?

Anyone who is attending the Annual Conference this year is invited to write a short piece about their experience. A selection of these will be published on the website as part of a blog, and will become a collective piece about the 2012 Annual Conference. Guest contributors can write about a while range of topics to do with the conference; the papers, the venue, the discussions in the coffee breaks, maybe even the biscuits at the coffee breaks! Contributors can be anyone who attends or presents, at any stage of their academic career or anyone who is not in academia.

If this is something you would like to try, please get in touch with Laura at l.paterson@dundee.ac.uk.