*** 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

News & Events

The history of women’s football in Scotland

Last month to mark the beginning of Euro 2017 Channel 4 screened a documentary about the fascinating history of women’s football entitled ‘When Football Banned Women‘.  In this post Dr Fiona Skillen (Glasgow Caledonian University) tells us more about the history of women’s football in Scotland:

Adapted from F. Skillen, Women, Sport and Modernity in Interwar Britain (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013)

Scotland’s women’s team in 1895

Scotland played a fundamental role in the development of women’s football. Fragmentary evidence suggests that women were playing football as far back as the 16th Century in Scotland. [1] The first international match in the World, was a Scotland women’s international match versus England played in Edinburgh in May 1881.[2] There seems to have been an increase in participation, or at the very least media coverage during the 1880s and 1890s.

Numbers of women playing football increased tremendously during the First World War. Whilst undertaking war work in factories women were encouraged to play football. There are many theories about why women were encouraged to take part in what was considered a ‘man’s game’. One theory is that factory owners and managers wanted to increase women worker’s fitness levels, whilst another is that playing football during their breaks would stop them from causing problems. It is equally possible that the women themselves simply took the opportunity to get involved in a sport which was no doubt familiar to them but in which their active participation was discouraged. Whatever the reason women’s football was popular amongst women in a way that it had never been before and arguably only equaled again in recent years.

This increased participation continued into the interwar period. There is considerable evidence that women played football in the interwar period across Britain. We don’t know exact numbers of women playing football during this period, however there were enough for local teams and even leagues to be formed. Many of these were factory teams which played public matches attracting large crowds in the thousands, raising money for war relief charities. Dick Kerr’s famous women’s factory team played several times in Scotland against local teams and in front of large crowds of spectators during 1920 and 1921.

However, it was these charity matches which have been cited as the game’s downfall. In 1921, the Football Association withdrew all support for women’s football and the subsequent adoption of the policy by the Scottish Football Association ensured that women’s football in Scotland was severely curtailed.[3] The football authorities banned women on the basis that the believed that some of the money from these charity matches was being mis-appropriated. There is no evidence to substantiate these claims.

A later Scottish team – date unknown 

Regardless of the official reasons stated, this step to ban women’s engagement in the game could be seen as a reflection of society’s wider disapproval of women’s playing football. Throughout the interwar period there had been increasing discussions in the press over women’s suitability for the game. Many of the criticisms leveled at women’s early participation in other sports during the nineteenth century were re-asserted in relation to football in this period. It was viewed by some, including members of the medical profession, as too physically demanding, dangerous and unfeminine. This formal ban, representing official disapproval of women’s participation in football, ensured that pressure was put on local clubs to withdraw access to pitches and changing facilities, undermining the ability of many teams to play. McCaig has argued that the problems of access and lack of support, brought about in large part because of these new policies, retarded the development of women’s football in Scotland and it was not until the end of the 1930s that many women’s clubs reformed and sought out non-SFA affiliated pitches to play on.[4]

It was not until 1971 that the SFA ban was overturned and the Scottish Women’s Football Association was established. The first international matches since the ban took place in 1972.

 Toasting a win in the 1970s 

Since the 1970s women’s football in Scotland has continued to grow with Scotland’s women’s national football team qualifying for their first major tournament, Euro 2017.

Women’s football has a long, if relatively under-researched history in Scotland. If you’d like to know a little more why not check out the following links:


For further information why not watch the BBC Alba documentary, Honeyballers

Read more about the roots of Scottish women’s football and the role of Florence Dixie as part of the Dangerous Women Project:

Or visit Stuart Gibb’s touring exhibition ‘Game for Girls’


[1] F. P. Magoun, Jr, ‘Scottish Popular Football, 1424-1815’, The American Historical Review, Vol.37:1, 1931, p.11

[2] F Skillen, Women, Sport and Modernity in Interwar Britain, F Skillen, (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013), p.190.

[3] Herald (6 December 1921).

[4] F Skillen, Women, Sport and Modernity, p.190.

#InternationalWomensDay

Today the 8th of March is International Women’s Day – we couldn’t let the day pass without drawing attention to some of the great initiatives promoting their work in relation to gender equality and women’s history!

Engender Scotland have launched their new new site #makingworkvisible to chart women’s work in Scotland – paid and unpaid:

Glasgow Women’s Library are ‘safeguarding the history of your grandmothers, hearing the memories of your mothers and providing the inspiration for your daughters’ as always

The Dangerous Women project at the University of Edinburgh has been highlighting its work:

 

Finally a reminder that if you’ve not voted please take the time to choose one of fourteen ‘Scotland’s Heroines’ for inclusion in the ‘Hall of Heroes’ in the Wallace Monument:

I’m sure there’s plenty of great projects and events that I’ve missed – get in touch and let us know what you’ve been up to for International Women’s Day 2017

Out Gallivanting – Researching women’s history with Aberdeen Women’s Alliance

Aberdeen Women’s Alliance organises workshops on researching women’s history.   These workshops are aimed at the general public, who might not know what sources are available to those with no formal research experience.  Yesterday (22 Feb 2017) archivist Fiona Musk displayed a range of items from the NHS Grampian archive from the C18th to the mid C20th, including registers of nurses and patients , photographs,  rules for student nurses,  and minute books.

Fiona had presented a similar workshop two years ago, but I had missed it. I was determined not to miss this one.  AWA have campaigned for a plaque to Maggie Myles, internationally known author of “Textbook for Midwives” and so we were particularly interested to see the Staff Register entry for Myles.  (Aberdeen City Council has approved the plaque which should be in place within the next couple of months).

Personally, I was surprised and intrigued by the earliest item, a minute book of 1742 detailing the appointment of Isobel Strachan to a post at Aberdeen Infirmary:

An album of photographs of nurses and their patients at Aberdeen Children’s Hospital gave a vivid impression of late C19th care:

My favourite item, however, was the register of admissions to Cornhill Lunatic Asylum:

Causes of insanity included many cases of “disappointment in love” and several “disappointment in Marriage.”  It was pleasing to note that those disappointed in love tended to recover.  Family quarrels, religious doubts, bereavements and excessive tea drinking  all helped fill the female wards.  I was intrigued to see entries for at least two schoolmistresses,  Catherine McAllan, aged 57, and Catherine Warden, aged 46.  I intend to follow these up.   One gendered difference in causes of insanity, we were told, was that “masturbation” was given as a cause only in male admissions!

Alison T McCall

Speaking Out – Recalling Women’s Aid in Scotland

This week the Scottish government announced that from July 2017, funding from the devolved administration will be handed to charities on a three-year basis instead of every 12 months.

Equalities secretary Angela Constance suggested that the change will “provide greater clarity and reassurance” to charities .


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

This is the perfect opportunity for us to highlight the ongoing work of Speaking Out in which Women’s History Scotland is a partner:

 

2016 marks 40 years since Scottish Women’s Aid was founded, bringing together a network of local Women’s Aid groups across Scotland. This ground-breaking movement brought about a big change in Scottish society by working to challenge and prevent domestic abuse.

To celebrate and mark this important anniversary, Scottish Women’s Aid, in partnership with Glasgow Women’s Library, Glasgow University Centre for Gender History and Women’s History Scotland, was awarded money by the Heritage Lottery Fund to record and share the history of Women’s Aid in Scotland.

 

To find out more about the project follow this link to the Speaking Out website.

You can also follow Speaking Out on twitter (see below) and facebook

A film capturing the stories and memories of eight women who have been involved in Women’s Aid at different points in its history, as well as with a range of Women’s Aid groups in Scotland has also been produced in cooperation with filmaker Helena Ohman:

The stories of volunteers help to capture how Women’s Aid has changed during its 40+ year history in Scotland, but also demonstrate that many aspects of Women’s Aid’s work have remained the same: supporting women, children and young people, challenging attitudes around domestic abuse, and campaigning for an end to violence against women.

If you would like more information and/or are interested in getting involved in the Speaking Out project please contact Sarah Browne, project coordinator by email at sarah.browne@scottishwomensaid.org.uk

Renaming Glasgow streets after famous women?

Glasgow Councillor Nina Baker has put forward a motion to be discussed this Thursday (February 16 Feb) that proposes renaming streets in Glasgow named after the city’s sugar barons and tobacco lords, whose businesses were built on slavery. She suggests that instead such streets should be named after women who fought for abolition or equality more broadly.

Inspired by the renaming of streets in Spanish towns and cities, which had been named after Franco,  to instead honour famous women, Councillor Baker states in an article in the Evening Times that:

“People walk down the streets named after these famous merchants who built their fortunes, and the city’s, off the back of slavery without really realising who these people were. My proposition is to rename streets like Ingram Street, Argyle Street and Cochrane Street after women who were part of abolition movements or the suffragettes. Women such as Mary Barbour, Lady Isabella Elder and Jean Roberts would be good examples of this. This would be extremely difficult to do but it’s something I would like to put in to the city’s public eye.”

  

Credit for images: Mary Barbour (Gallacher Memorial Library, Glasgow Caledonian University Special Collections and Archives); Isabella Elder and Jean Roberts (Glasgow Museums)

Sue John of Glasgow Women’s Library supports Councillor Baker’s proposal:

“When we look around our civic landscapes the celebration of Scotland’s great men is apparent through statues, buildings and street names in their honour. This isn’t so much the case with women whose achievements go largely unrecognised. So naming streets after some of Scotland’s heroines is a great idea. Part of the work of Glasgow Women’s Library, as the only accredited museum dedicated to women’s history in the UK, is to tell their forgotten stories and hidden histories.”

What do you think? Who would you rename Argyll Street, Cochrane Street or Ingram after?

Wallace Monument – Vote for #ScotlandsHeroines

In 1886 a ‘Hall of Heroes’ was added to the Wallace Monument to acknowledge the achievement of famous Scotsmen who had secured their place in Scottish History. The first two busts to be added were Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce. Over the next twenty years a further 14 busts were added – all men.

The current ‘Hall of Heroes’ © www.thewallacemonument.com

This year the Monument will be adding the first female figurehead to recognise the achievements and successes of famous Scottish women and to illustrate the roles which ‘so many women have played in the story of Scotland’.

Our own Alison McCall, Convenor of WHS, served on the selection panel which has shortlisted fourteen women who have all in their own way ‘made an outstanding contribution to the lives of countless men, women and children, in Scotland, and in countries around the world’ and ‘whose lives reflect the spirit of William Wallace’


‘Scotland’s Heroines’ Selection Panel © www.thewallacemonument.com

The shortlist is as follows:‘Scotland’s Heroines’ Shortlist © https://www.facebook.com/NationalWallaceMonument/

Arts, Culture and Sport:

  • Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh
  • Màiri Mhòr nan Òran
  • Jean Redpath
  • Nancy Riach

Science and Engineering:

  • Victoria Drummond
  • Chrystal Macmillan
  • Dorothée Pullinger
  • Mary Somerville

Medicine:

  • Elsie Inglis
  • Sophia Jex-Blake
  • Maggie Keswick Jencks

Public Life:

  • Jane Haining
  • Christian Maclagan
  • Mary Slessor

As the Wallace Monument website states ‘they have all earned the right to be recognised as Scotland’s Heroines’.

Videos of the all the women on the shortlist can also be found on the ‘Scotland’s Heroines YouTube page

You can also follow #ScotlandsHeroines on twitter:

You can find out more and place your vote at:

 http://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/scotlands-heroines/cast-your-vote/

***VOTING CLOSES ON FRIDAY 31ST MARCH***

Who will you vote for and why?