Mairi Hamilton: Bursary Winner Report – ‘Everyday Matters: Writing Obscure Lives’

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I cannot overstate how happy I was to receive a research bursary from Women’s History Scotland in April 2018.

I used the bursary to cover the costs of delivering a paper at the academic conference, ‘Everyday Matters: Writing Obscure Lives’, which was hosted by the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College, University of Oxford in May 2018. My paper explored how the surviving court records about a case of sexual assault can help to provide an insight into the everyday life of an individual woman in nineteenth-century Scotland. Having a platform to draw attention to the prevalence of sexual violence in women’s lives from a historical perspective was a real thrill for me. I originally conducted this piece of research for my masters dissertation and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to return to this material and rework it for a different context and format, thus sharing it with another audience.

Some of the court records Mairi has used in her research © Mairi Hamilton

I was very pleased with how my paper went, especially as it was my first time speaking at an academic conference. I managed to avoid disintegrating into a pile of nerves as I focused on trying to enjoy the experience in the moment and believe in the quality of my work. During the panel Q&A, members of the audience expressed genuine interest in my case study and my research more broadly, which was very encouraging. I now know how it feels to address an audience behind an engraved wooden lectern with an in-built microphone on a raised stage in an ornately wood-panelled auditorium with over a hundred seats on a topic I am deeply passionate about. I expect that I will never forget it.

At the conference  © Mairi Hamilton

The conference itself was extremely interesting. The papers were so thought-provoking that I felt privileged to be featured alongside them. By the end of the programme, my head was full of books to read, ideas to think over, and things to google. I made valuable contacts with scholars in my own discipline and connected with lots of lovely people. There were a number of moments throughout the conference when I felt overwhelmingly grateful for the generous support of WHS that made my participation possible.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to WHS for awarding me a research bursary. Not only was I grateful for the substantial financial support, but also for the panel’s belief in the value of my research, which has meant a great deal to me. Receiving a WHS research bursary personally feels like a huge achievement which I am immensely proud of.

Mairi Hamilton (Recipient of Women’s History Scotland Bursary 2018, University of Glasgow)

Out Gallivanting: Women’s Memorials Health Walk, 14 June 2018

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As part of the Golden Games programme to encourage exercise by the over 65s, Sport Aberdeen organised a Memorials to Women Walk on 14 June.  The route was planned by walk leader Fiona Rennie.  I was asked to join to the walk to talk about the memorials, which all feature on our project Mapping Memorials to Women in Scotland, in partnership with Glasgow Women’s Library.

The Walk started at Rubislaw Terrace Gardens, and went past St Margaret’s School for Girls to Harlaw Academy, where there is a plaque to poet Rachel Annand Taylor.

 

Plaque  

http://womenofscotland.org.uk/memorials/plaque-rachel-annand-taylor

We then continued along Albyn Place, stopping at no. 27 to remember a woman who has no memorial in Scotland. Marie Therese Moser and her husband Bernard were German Jews, who had friends in Aberdeen. In 1939, fearing their lives were in danger, their friends found them employment as a housekeeper and manservant at 27 Albyn Place. The paperwork was completed on 29 August 1939, too late for the Mosers, who both died in concentration camps.

We then went to the plaque to Lady May Baird.

Plaques

http://womenofscotland.org.uk/memorials/yellow-plaque-commemorating-lady-may-baird

The walk went past the statue of Queen Victoria at Queen’s Cross, and turned along Carden Place. We turned into Albert Street to see the  plaque to Dr. Agnes Thomson,  which was erected last year.

Plaque to Agnes Thomson

http://womenofscotland.org.uk/memorials/plaque-agnes-thomson

The Craigie Loanings hill came next, fortunately with a stop half way up to look at the small garden in memory of opera singer Mary Garden, and another stop at the top to look at a memorial bench, also to Mary Garden.  Most of the over 65s went up the hill at a faster pace than I did!

 

From there we went down Argyll Place, past Victoria Park, and on to the maternity hospital to see the final memorial, the plaque to midwife Maggie Myles, author of a Textbook for Midwives, now in its sixteenth edition. (you can find out more about Maggie here too – http://womenshistoryscotland.org/tag/maggie-myles/)

Plaque to Maggie Myles

http://womenofscotland.org.uk/memorials/plaque-maggie-myles

After the walk, SportAberdeen had laid on coffee and biscuits at Westburn Bowling Club, where I talked about the Mapping Memorials project.

All those on the walk said that the memorials theme had added considerable interest to the walk, and sparked conversations about other noted women from Aberdeen such as Dr Mary Esslemont. I was impressed that SportAberdeen had devised a route which included four plaques, a park, a school, a garden, a bench and a statue!

Alison McCall (Convenor)

 

Processions 2018 – Edinburgh 10 June 2018

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On Sunday Yvonne and I took our daughters to Processions 2018, a mass participation artwork, in Edinburgh produced by Artichoke, my mum came too. The idea was that thousands of women and girls wearing scarves in the colours of the Women’s and Social and Political Union (WSPU) would create a sea of green, violet and white through the city. Processions were also taking place in Cardiff, Belfast and London.

The excitement about suffragettes began the Monday before when Sylvie and Caroline were allowed to stay about a wee bit late to watch the first half hour of Lucy Worsley’s documentary on BBC1. (If you’ve not seen it, I thought it was really good – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b5y4zg)

Then with my limited sewing skill I made them special suffragette t-shirts.

On the day Yvonne was prepared  bringing materials for the girls to make their own suffrage flags on the train from Glasgow.

© V. Wright

When we arrived at the Meadows it seemed like there were thousands of people of all ages and lots of groups of women from all over Scotland and the North of England with beautiful banners.

Being on the procession was a great experience for us all. We were walking in front of a group of Girl Guides and behind the Scottish Women’s Aid banner, which Yvonne recognised from when she had volunteered with Speaking Out. (The final Speaking Out publication has been published and can be downloaded here – https://womenslibrary.org.uk/discover-our-projects/speaking-out/the-speaking-out-publication/)

© Y. McFadden

© Y. McFadden

We didn’t finish the whole route as the girls were tired, but we did watch the procession pass us at the National Gallery and then popped in for some cake. We finished the day by bumping into Sue and Adele from the Glasgow Women’s Library and Adele’s mum at the train station.

© Y. McFadden

All in a great day out remembering all that women have achieved in the fight for equality and all that is still to do. Processions 2018 was a real inspiration for the next generation!

Congratulations to National Coordinators Jean Cameron and Anne McLaughlin – you did a great job!!


For other accounts and images of Processions 2018 see:

Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow)

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

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**

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