Processions 2018: One month to go! Sunday 10 June in Edinburgh

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For those members of Women’s History Scotland who remember with fondness the Guid Cause march back in 2009, well there’s another opportunity to march through the streets of Edinburgh to commemorate the work of suffrage campaigners, suffragists and suffragettes, which led to the Representation of the People Act in February 1918.

Processions is described a once-in-a-lifetime’opportunity to take part in a mass participation artwork to celebrate one hundred years of votes for women (well some women! As we know it was only women over 30 who met the property qualifications who were enfranchised, but let’s not let that stop us celebrating!)

On Sunday 10th of June women and girls* in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London will walk together wearing either green, white or violet. The idea is that the PROCESSIONS will appear as a flowing river of colour through the city streets.

Artichoke who are organising Processions 2017 are inviting women and girls* across the UK to come together and mark this historic moment as part of a living portrait of women in the 21st Century

(*those who identify as women or non-binary)

In addition one hundred women artists are being commissioned to work with organisations and communities across the UK to create one hundred centenary banners for PROCESSIONS as part of an extensive public programme of creative workshops. Find out more about the groups and artists involved here.Several of the artists and groups are based in Scotland including:

But as a Paisley buddy I can’t help being biased and promoting the work of the amazing Mandy McIntosh and the Feegie Needlers based in the Tannahill Centre in Ferguslie Park. I can’t wait to see their banner!

Special mention too to our friends at Glasgow Women’s Library working with Helen de Main (congratulations also on being nominated for ArtFund Museum of the Year – everyone at Women’s History Scotland has their fingers crossed!)

I hope to see lots of Women’s History Scotland members on the Procession on the 10th of June!

 You can find out more here https://www.processions.co.uk/  

Sign up for FREE here https://www.processions.co.uk/register/

Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow)

 

 

**WINNERS ANNOUNCED: WHS BURSARY 2018**

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We were delighted that in our inaugural year we received many strong applications from postgraduate students, early career researchers and independent scholars from across the country.

After much deliberation and discussion, the steering committee decided to grant numerous awards given the strength of the submissions.

Many congratulations to Mairi HamiltonKate Mathis  and Caroline Douglas.

Mairi will present a paper on violence against women in Victorian Scotland at a conference in Oxford, Kate will present a paper on the presentation of medieval Scottish women during the Celtic Revival at a conference in Inverness, and finally, Caroline will use her bursary to fund research into unknown women in early photography in Scotland.

The WHS Bursary will be offered again in 2019 and we would like to encourage postgraduates, early career researchers and independent scholars working in Scotland or working on Scottish themes to apply.

Further details can be found on the WHS website or by contacting: bursary@womenshistoryscotland.org.

Suffrage in Dundee: WHS Suffrage Learning Resource launch event, 10 March 2018

On Saturday 10th of March as part of Dundee Women’s Festival Women’s History Scotland officially launched it’s new learning resource:

THE WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT IN SCOTLAND, 1867-1928: A LEARNING RESOURCE

We were fortunate to have such welcoming and supporting hosts in Dundee’s Central Library in the Wellgate with Maureen Hood and her team providing display materials from ‘Voteless not Voiceless‘ an exhibition held in the library a few years ago.

The launch was very well attended and there was a great deal of enthusiasm for both the online learning resource and learning more about the history of the suffrage movement in Dundee. In fact it turns out that Dundee could not have been a better place to hold the launch given the richness of the existing history of women in the city.

Following a brief introduction on our motivations for creating the resource and a tour of what information it contained, Esther Breitenbach of the WHS steering committeee gave an overview of the suffrage movement in Scotland, emphasising the long-run nature of the campaign for enfranchisement in Scotland and the differing demands of various groups of women. Central to this is the difference between suffragists and suffragettes: Suffragists used peaceful constitutional methods to make their case that women should have the vote on the same terms on men, and suffragist groups included the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). The suffragettes on the other hand advocated militant action and were largely members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Numerically there were far more suffragists than suffragettes and yet it is the suffragettes that live on in popular memory of the campaign for the vote. Esther also spoke of the early organisation of women in favour of the suffrage cause in Dundee and women’s involvement in political parties and activity in the city.

Norman Watson, journalist and author of several books on women’s history in Dundee including the soon to be reissued Dundee’s Suffragettes: Their Remarkable Struggle to Win Votes for Women then spoke very authoritatively and engagingly on the activities of members of the WSPU and WFL in Dundee such as Ethel Moorehead, Lila Clunas and Agnes Husband. Drawing on his vast collection of postcards, suffrage memorabilia, not to mention extensive knowledge, we all learned a great deal about the reasons why there was comparatively more suffrage activity in Dundee. Central to this was the fact that the then Prime Minister’s constituency was in East Fife and Winston Churchill was standing Liberal MP for Dundee in 1908. At this point Churchill was a rising star in the party, President of the Board of Trade and would go on to be Home Secretary in 1910. As a result Dundee was a high profile constituency and thus a strategic target of suffragette militancy. One of the most famous disrupting strategy was taken by Mary Maloney a member of the WSPU who would ring a bell every time Churchill addressed a crowd in Dundee (see image above). Nearby Perth prison also became notorious as this was where suffragettes were sent to be force-fed in Scotland. The WSPU rented a flat across from the prison so that members could sing songs and chants of solidarity with those imprisoned.

If you would like a more in-depth account of Dundee’s suffragette history look out for the publication of Norman’s book later this year.

Following a tea and coffee break, with refreshments generously provided by Dundee Central Library, historian Kenneth Baxter gave a presentation on the political representation of women in Dundee, which from 1918 to c. 1955 lagged behind the other major cities in Scotland. Dundonians were slow to elect their first female Councillor and first female MP. It was interesting to hear more about the women who were elected, their careers and political priorities in the city. While there is no one definitive answer to explain the relative lack of female elected representatives in Dundee given the city’s reputation as a women’s town, we had a good discussion with many suggestions from those attending the event.

The official launch of the online learning resource was a great success and we are keen to hold similar events throughout Scotland. If you are part of a local history or community group and would like to know more about the suffrage movement in your area please get in touch by emailing: info@womenshistoryscotland.org

Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow)

Out Gallivanting – Conversation Café and Civic Reception

Aberdeen Women’s Alliance held their third Women’s History Conversation Café on Saturday 3rd March in the Town House restaurant.  The topic was the suffragette campaign as described in the Watt archive (the correspondence of suffragette Caroline Phillips).

I was one of the table hosts. There were seven tables, each with a table host and five attendees.  Fears that the severe weather might affect attendance proved unfounded.

The session started with a talk by Prof. Sarah Pedersen. Each attendee had been given a copy of her book on Caroline Phillips, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Each table then examined and discussed items from the archive. These had been photocopied and laminated, with discussion topics printed on the back of each item.  Everyone was fascinated by the selection of items and an hour just wasn’t long enough to discuss them all.  Sarah then concluded the café with a further talk detailing events after Caroline Phillips ceased to be the Honorary Secretary of Aberdeen W.S.P.U.

After the Café, Aberdeen City Council hosted a Civic Reception in the Town and County Hall.  As I was driving I stuck to orange juice, but I didn’t stint myself on the canapes!  There were speeches by Lord Provost Barney Crockett, and Sarah Pedersen.  Best of all were the animated discussions all over the room as people discussed women’s history and politics, with women fired up and enthused by what they had heard and read.  The pile of WHS postcards disappeared quickly.

Alison McCall

 

#Vote100 – 100 years ago some women got the vote

Today the 6th of February marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 which resulted in the partial enfranchisement of some women in the UK.

Banner from the Gude Cause march commemorating the suffrage procession of 1909 in Edinburgh © Fiona Skillen (banner made by F. Skillen and V. Wright)

Here at Women’s History Scotland we’ve been busy working away on our suffrage learning resource which will be launched as part of Dundee Women’s Festival on 10 March. 

But in the meantime here’s a brief (and selective!) round up of celebrations here in Scotland and beyond:

(Follow the whole thread of Lesley’s tweets)

Also see the The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women for details of suffrage campaigners both militant and constitutional in Scotland.

Here’s a great resource from the National Library of Scotland – an excellent place to research Scotland’s suffrage history:

And don’t forget our own ‘Resources for Schools: Women, the Great War, and the Vote

The OU are also commemorating suffrage with this excellent resource:

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/100-years-votes-some-women

And also see the free access centenary collection from Women’s History Review

Finally, and importantly, here are some links to important historical correctives and analysis from Dr Sumita Mukherjee:

 

Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow)

 

Sue Innes Memorial Lecture 2017 – Listen now!

Lesley starting her lecture © E. McCrae

On Thursday night (19 October) we were very lucky to have Lesley Orr giving this year’s Sue Innes Memorial Lecture entitled –“To Build the New Jerusalem” Women’s claims to equal citizenship in Scottish church and nation, c.1918 – 1945′. The lecture was co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh Centre for Theology and Public Issues at New College, University of Edinburgh.

Lesley was a close friend of Sue’s as were many in attendance. Sue’s work as an activist, journalist and historian continues to inspire historians of women and gender in Scotland and it was fascinating to see the influence that Sue’s work on citizenship and feminism has had on Lesley’s own research on women’s demands for equality in the ministry of the church in the interwar years and beyond.

Sue’s work on the Edinburgh Women’s Citizenship Association has been particularly influential on my own work on women’s organisations and interwar feminism in Scotland. However, I hadn’t really considered the role that the church had played in the lives of so many of the leaders of feminist organisations in Glasgow and Edinburgh, even thought I was obviously aware of the links between church women’s guilds and the women’s citizens associations. I had completely taken it for granted that women who were influential in the overtly feminist and largely middle-class women’s organisations in urban Scotland would be ‘respectable’ church-going women, but hadn’t thought of how their Christianity shaped their feminism. Lesley certainly has given me a lot to think about!

I particularly enjoyed learning more about Euphemia Somerville, Eunice Murray and especially Vera Kenmure (Findlay) who became the first official female minister in Partick in 1928 and later established her own church as well as being a figure head in Glasgow for women’s equality.

(There are entries on each in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women if you’d like to find out more)

Don’t worry if you missed Lesley’s lecture you can catch up on Soundcloud by clicking on the following:

Valerie Wright  (University of Glasgow)

*** Sue Innes Memorial Lecture 2017 *** 19 October

 ‘“To Build the New Jerusalem” Women’s claims to equal citizenship in Scottish church and nation, c.1918 – 1945′

Dr Lesley Orr

Thursday 19 October 2017, 5.30pm,

Martin Hall, New College, University of Edinburgh

Sue Innes was an inspiring and influential historian, journalist and feminist activist. She was among the founding members of Women’s History Scotland (then known as Scottish Women’s History Network), and was co-editor of the Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, which is dedicated to her. Sue died in 2005, and the annual Sue Innes Memorial Lecture serves to celebrate her life, including her commitment to encouraging women’s and gender history – in and of Scotland.

This year’s speaker is Dr Lesley Orr (University of Edinburgh). In common with others who have been invited to give the lecture, she knew Sue personally. Her lecture, entitled “To Build the New Jerusalem” Women’s claims to equal citizenship in Scottish church and nation, c.1918 – 1945′ takes a central theme of Sue’s own doctoral thesis – the meaning of citizenship to newly enfranchised women in Scotland – as its starting point.

This year’s Sue Innes Memorial Lecture is co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh Centre for Theology and Public Issues. It will be followed by a drinks reception in the Rainy Hall, New College.

All welcome – attendance is free, but registration is required.

Register via eventbrite 

 

Out Gallivanting: Glasgow School of Art Graduate Degree Show

So last weekend was busy! Out Gallivanting again on Sunday (3 September). This time just a short train journey to Glasgow to see the Glasgow School of Art Graduate Degree Show.

I’ve been fortunate over the last few months to meet Anna Tüdos and Gina Lundy both studying for Masters degrees at Glasgow School of Art. Their respective work is thought provoking and crucially focuses on women, their experiences and history. Both have created and curated works that are visually striking too.

Anna has been studying for a MLitt in Curatorial Practice with an emphasis on Contemporary Art and she is particularly interested in exploring hidden histories and under represented issues often through unconventional ways of mediating art. I first met Anna when she was working with Kinning Park Complex to mark the 21st anniversary of the sit-in which saved the then community centre from closure. Anna curated a series of events entitled ‘March On:  A celebration of the power of collective voice‘ which included a parade with specially commissioned banners by Greer Pester influenced by the area’s history and specifically drawing on a talk given by Sue Rawcliffe, a PhD researcher at the University of Strathclyde on the Kinning Park Cooperative Women’s Guild (the first in Scotland and prominent in the Rent Strike of 1915). Women continued to be prominent in community protest in the area including the sit-in of 1996. Anastasia Rice‘s ‘All Welcome’ banner, created for the sit-in, and featuring the work of 25 women, was installed as part of Anna’s week long exhibition. Gorbals and Laurieston Cooperative Women’s Guild Branch banner also featured for one day only on the 16th of July, generously supported by Fiona Hughes social history curator and Helen Hughes textiles conservator from Glasgow Life.

For the degree show Anna has installed Greer’s banner along with a video of the parade (produced by Jarvis Gray Films).

Both give a real sense of the energy of the people who use Kinning Park Complex, of the community that has been maintained as a result of collective action and of the importance of the area’s history in shaping current projects. While I missed the parade back in July, having attended other events at the Complex, I think Anna has really captured the spirit of the area and it’s history in her curatorial work. The girls liked it too, especially the end of the film when everybody cheered and the fact that that they could bring home a free poster.


I met Gina only over a week ago at the Q&A for Dispossession at the Glasgow Film Theatre, in which her work features prominently. Gina is a (Glasgow based) photographer who has been creating work around social housing in London since 2010. Since moving to Glasgow two years ago she’s been creating research into women’s voices within the current housing crisis through interviews with resident campaigners and protest groups. She’s also been studying for a MRes in Creative Practices. Gina is particularly interested in the disproportionate impact of austerity cuts on women.

Gina’s work draws upon women’s personal histories and their activism when their homes, neighbourhoods and communities are under threat. There are many parallels to be drawn with similar action taken by women in the past, again the 1915 rent strike comes to mind, as does the campaigns against dampness in council housing in the 1970s, the poll tax in the early 1990s and more recently the bedroom tax. Grassroots campaigns by women are everywhere in our history when we think of threatened school closures; funding cuts to public services such as libraries and maternity units; and demands for improved housing conditons.

Gina uses women’s own words in her work, we are hearing their thoughts and feelings and this is very powerful. Similarly many of the women who were photographed for the project are ‘hidden’ in images only to be revealed from another angle, symbolic of the way in which women’s voices can be marginalised in debates around housing redevelopment at a national level. Yet through Gina’s work we see them and hear their voices.

We were all very impressed by Gina’s work.


You can see more of Anna’s work on the GSA flickr account and can find out more about Gina’s project ‘Fantastic New Community’ and her other work on her website


Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow)

Out Gallivanting: Speaking Out Celebration Conference

Saturday (2nd September 2017) was a lovely day for a trip to Dundee (it’s always sunny in Dundee!)

It was an early start from Glasgow, but we didn’t mind as we were heading to celebrate all of the great work that has been achieved by the volunteers and staff at Speaking Out, the ongoing oral history project to record the history of Women’s Aid throughout Scotland over the last 40 plus years. And there is a lot to celebrate!


© Glasgow Women’s Library, Scottish Women’s Aid Archive

The day opened with the Dundee Women’s Aid choir welcoming us to the Steeple, a lovely venue at the heart of the city centre,

Marsha Scott of Scottish Women’s Aid then provided a short welcome and introduction, then Lesley Orr explained how the Speaking Out project had come about and underlined the need to record the history of the Women’s Aid movement given it’s significance as a crucial social movement in Scotland. As always Lesley’s words were inspiring!

As were the words of the pioneers of the movement in Scotland. Such women, working voluntarily to help each other were ‘Rocking the Status Quo’:

Our very own Hannah Telling was up next to discuss the longevity of inaccurate discourses of violence against women which have regularly portrayed perpetrators as working class and survivors as provoking violence. The continuation of such myths from the nineteenth century to the present day was striking. But as Hannah concluded Scottish Women’s Aid have actively challenged these discourses by opposing violence against women in all forms and by providing support and practical help for women of all backgrounds throughout Scotland since the early 1970s. Important work which they continue to do today.

Before lunch we attended a break-out session on the making of the Speaking Out film which features clips of some of the women interviewed for the project, both workers in refuges and service users. Sarah Browne underlined the importance of sensitive training in oral history interviewing. The dedication and professionalism of all of the volunteers, as well as the Speaking Out team, has resulted in a unique resource for researchers, students and for the Women’s Aid movement itself.

After lunch we had an energising performance of poetry from Mridul Wadhwa which was another highlight of the day.

Then we attended another break out session in which we learned about the Scottish Women’s Aid archive at Glasgow Women’s Library where the project archivists Elizabeth O’Brien and Nicola Maksymuik  told us about the collection and volunteer Yvonne McFadden shared her experience of working on comprehensively cateloguing the newspaper clippings collection. Yvonne explained that it could be emotional work which would often make her angry given the portrayal of survivors of violence as ‘asking for it’. However, while the continuities could be depressing, the work to combat violence against women as evidenced in the newspaper clippings was energising too. The database that Elizabeth, Nicola and Yvonne have been working on will soon be available on the Glasgow Women’s Library online catelogue.

We then heard from the volunteer panel of Dot Aidulis, Yvonne McFadden and Morag Allan Campbell who shared their experience of volunteering in various capacities in the Speaking Out project. Yvonne, a historian and researcher, spoke of how working on Speaking Out has re-ignited her interest in history and led to new friendships and experiences she wouldn’t have had otherwise. For Morag, volunteering on Speaking Out while making the transition from full-time office work to PhD research, has given her confidence and strength.

Dot spoke eloquently and powerfully of her experience as a service user, of hearing about the Speaking Out project at another event and of approaching the team to take part. She spoke of coming across a small leaflet for women’s aid while living with her abusive partner. This ‘planted a seed’ and made her aware of a whole support system out there that could help her. That feeling built up and was instrumental in helping her to  find the courage and confidence to leave. Dot called Women’s Aid soon after she got to Glasgow and has received great practical and emotional support over the years. For Dot the power of Women’s Aid was in telling her story and being believed. Dot has achieved so much in her life, before and after living with her ex partner. It was truly inspiring and very emotional to hear her talk of her pride in participating in committees in the Scottish Parliament discussing violence against women. I’m glad that we have Dot advocating for women in Scotland! I’m glad that all of the volunteers in Speaking Out have given their time, expertise and knowledge to such a worthy and truly collaborative project.

The day ended with a rousing and thought provoking talk from Lesley Riddoch on the importance of doing politics differently and the need for local power which would increase women’s participation. She suggested we needed a reordering of society to prioritise the average rather than the elites. The effectiveness of grassroots social movements like Scottish Women’s Aid in making women’s voices heard was crucial in establishing such local power for everyone. Lesley certainly gave us lots to think about.


Women’s History Scotland is a partner in the project along with the Glasgow Women’s Library and the Centre for Gender History at the University of Glasgow.

If you’d like to know more about the history of, and contemporary, campaigns against violence against women in Scotland see:

And if you’d like to learn more why not participate in Strathclyde University’s Massive Open Online Course ‘Understanding Violence Against Women’ where you’d be learning with Roisin McGoldrick and Anni Donaldson

 

Out Gallivanting: ‘1745’ and Glasgow Slavery Remembrance

Last Thursday night (24th August) the Kinning Park Complex‘s weekly Community Meal took the form of a special event to mark UNESCO‘s designated ‘International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition’. Organised by poet and author Kate Tough, this was a thought provoking and energising evening of lovely food (provided by Küche), good company and interesting discussion.

© 1745 film (https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/2017/1745)

However the highlight for me was the acclaimed short film ‘1745‘, which is about two enslaved sisters escaping into the Scottish wilderness against the back drop of other well known events in Scottish history. Sisters , and  play the lead roles and their performances are excellent. It is a haunting and evocative portrayal of what life may have been like for the African women captured, enslaved and forced to work in grand houses in Scotland in the eighteenth century. Their reasons for taking the risk of escaping their oppression are made all to clear. I hope Morayo and Moyo are successful in their indiegogo campaign to fund a full length feature. This is very much a story that needs to be told.

The University of Glasgow’s ‘Runaway Slaves‘ research project were advisers to the filmmakers and Nelson Mundell was present with Zandra Yeaman of the Coalition of Racial Equality and Rights to lead the discussion following the film along with Kate.


Over recent weeks there has been increasing discussion of Glasgow’s historic connections to the slave trade and the legacy of this for the city. This is not surprising given events in the United States relating to the removal of confederate monuments and the resulting backlash from white supremacists.

Glasgow’s eighteenth-century built environment and architecture was shaped by Tobacco Lords and West India merchants, in what is now rebranded the Merchant City’. This was paid for by the wealth generated by the trade in enslaved Africans and the products of their labour. Similarly Glasgow’s cotton industry had a direct link with the plantations in North America. Industries throughout Scotland were developed in the 19th Century by industrialists and capitalists who had made their fortunes not only through their own entrepreneurial endeavours, but through speculative investments in Sugar and Cotton. Glasgow is not alone in this. Cities and towns throughout Scotland benefited from the money made by individuals through ownership and investment in slave plantations.

For some commentators Scotland is yet to come to terms with this legacy given the lack of permanent exhibition space or a museum to acknowledge the role of slavery in the nation’s development. However for others, acknowledgement of Glasgow’s and Scotland’s prominent role in the accumulation of wealth from the trading in captured and enslaved Africans is well on its way to becoming mainstream and a well-known part of the city’s and nation’s history.

Discussions are ongoing and will continue in Glasgow and beyond with a series of events in the next few months.

If you are interested in finding out more about the legacy of slavery in Glasgow see:

Stephen Mullen‘s It Wisnae Us The Truth About Glasgow and Slavery (The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights worked with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) to launch this publication detailing the true role of Glasgow in the trans Atlantic slave trade)

University of Glasgow research project – Runaway Slaves in Britain: bondage, freedom and race in the eighteenth century

For more information on upcoming events in Glasgow and beyond see:

Black History Month – for listings see http://www.crer.scot/black-history and http://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/listings/region/scotland/

Africa in Motion (AiM) film festival

Kate Tough’s website where you’ll find details about Glasgow Slavery Remembrance

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