Wallace Monument – Vote for #ScotlandsHeroines

Featured

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?

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

Out Gallivanting – ‘Cutting a Rug’

Image ©John Byrne

On Saturday afternoon I went to see John Byrne’s ‘Cutting a Rug’ at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

The Second Part of Byrne’s ‘Slab Boys’ Trilogy it is set on the night of the ‘staffie’ in Paisley Town Hall in 1957.

As the production website states:

John Byrne’s funny and poignant Slab Boys trilogy paints a vivid picture of the tough, rebellious, working-class culture of 1950s industrial Scotland.

It’s a culture that is largely glossed over in histories of twentieth century Scotland, which Hamish Fraser describes as a ‘tranquil’ decade. Well not for the characters in this play!

Louise McCarthy and Mark Barrett in Cuttin' A Rug. Photo by Tim Morozzo

Although the action focuses on Phil, Spanky and Hector, the female characters are far from two dimensional. We’ve got Lucile and Bernadette, who’ve been jealously fighting over everything since primary school. They are ‘best friends’ who ‘can’t stand each other’. There’s Sadie the tea lady who has a hard life and the latest indignity was being offered the chance of a wee extra job doing a ‘bit of light dusting’ by a wealthy resident ‘up the terrace’, work that she suggests put her own mother in an early grave. Finally there’s Mrs Walkinshaw ‘a maiden lady’ from ‘up the terrace’ who has it no easier looking after her ageing mother and spends the evening at the staff dance drinking too much and thinking of what might have been.

The portrayal of the male characters is well rounded too. For the teenagers Phil, Spanky, Hector, Terry and Alan – it’s all about what it means to be a man, how you should act and what you’re going to become.

Phil has his drawing and hopes of Art School and Spanky, well as he says at the end of the play:

“I’M NINETEEN WITH A WARDROBE FULL OF CLOTHES… I’VE GOT EVERYTHING TO LIVE FOR!”

For more information see: http://www.citz.co.uk/whatson/info/cuttin_a_rug/

It’s on till the 5 March – and I’d wholeheartedly recommend a wee journey to 1950s Paisley  (but as a Buddy I am biased)

Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow)

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?

WHS Essay Prize 2016 – *Winner Announcement*

We are pleased to announce the winner of the WHS Leah Leneman Essay Prize for 2016 is Theresa Mackay (pictured below), who recently completed an MLitt in Highlands and Islands History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, supervised by Dr Elizabeth Ritchie. The competition again saw strong competition and we would like to thank the applicants for providing an interesting range of essays for the judges to consider.

Theresa won with an accomplished essay entitled: ‘Women at work: Innkeeping in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, 1790-1840’. 

The judges write: This is a very finished piece of work which was professionally presented and clearly written. It draws on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including private correspondence, travel memoirs, guidebooks, newspaper advertisements and even archaeological excavations. It is well illustrated with maps, paintings and photographs and provides some good quotations from the innkeepers’ guests, which helps us to ‘get inside’ this potentially difficult topic. As the author points out, less is known about the rural world, and this sits well with work on urban women and to some extent may inspire further work in the area. The case is well made for the importance of female innkeepers as entrepreneurs who laid the foundations for the tourism industry in the Highlands and Islands after 1840. On balance, this is an entertaining and instructive essay, and fully merits the award of the Essay Prize.

We would like to congratulate Theresa for her interesting and thought-provoking work, and hope to see her essay published in due course.

We are delighted that Theresa’s research has already recently featured on the BBC news website – ‘The ‘tough, entrepreneurial women’ who ran Highland inns‘.

In the Scotsman:

The 19th Century Highland inn – and the “peacekeeping” women behind the bar

and on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour (at around 34:45 minutes in):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08dmknp

Great coverage for Theresa’s work and for Women’s History Scotland!

WHS members might like to know that several previous Leah Leneman prize essays have been published in the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies.

The next competition will be in 2018, with a deadline in December.

 

#historybooksbywomen

This weekend #historybooksbywomen has been ‘trending’. This is in response to the fact that many of the ‘history books of the year’ lists published in the broadsheets are dominated by male historians.

Here at WHS we all have plenty of recommendations for #historybooksbywomen including our own publications (click on image for details):

  

and those of our steering committee:

  gender-and-the-urban-experience 

Recommendations from 2016 would have to include our very own Eilidh MacCrae’s Exercise in the Female Life Cycle in Britain, 1930-1970 and the second edition of Lynn Abrams’ Oral History Theory.

 

What are your recommendations?

Out gallivanting – Larry Herman, Street Level Photoworks

Another month, another excellent photographic exhibition in Glasgow.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Glasgow city centre and thought I’d pop in to see Larry Herman’s ‘Clydeside 1974-76‘ at Street Level Photoworks. I’d seen this photograph of children on the roundabout by Red Road high flats and thought I’d see if there any more images of high rise (I’m currently working on a project entitled ‘Housing, Everyday Life and Wellbeing over the long term: Glasgow 1950-75‘ which considers people’s experiences of living in high rise flats in the city).

© Larry Herman: Red Road Flats, Glasgow

Chatting to the attendant resulted in me becoming ‘visitor of the day‘!

But really the highlight was the diverse images displayed and the quality of Herman’s photography. Just about all aspects of life feature; work, home and play. There’s everything from men working in the ship yards of the Clyde, and not just Glasgow but Greenock too, the coal fields of Lanarkshire and outside Chrysler car factory in Linwood. We see women at work in factories, building sites and their homes. There’s also photographs of community groups compiling local newsletters and trade union meetings and much more too.

Many images stick in my mind but this is my favourite. When we think of women’s role in the textiles industry in Scotland we might first think of Dundee jute workers or Paisley mill girls, but the story of the thousands of women who worked in machining factories running up everything from car seat covers to clothes has yet to be told.

If you’ve not been along already, I would highly recommend a visit – the exhibition is on until 27th of November.

Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow)

Out Gallivanting – Eilidh Macrae at the Netball Scotland Annual Conference

A few weeks ago I attended the first annual Netball Scotland Conference at the fabulous ‘Oriam: Scotland’s Sports performance Centre’ based at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

.netball-scotland-annual-confernce-1

Given my position as lecturer in sport development at the University of the West of Scotland, and with my research focus on gender and sport, I’d been invited along to this conference to sit on an expert panel. The issue up for discussion was the future of netball in this Scottish setting, and specifically how to make netball the first choice sport for women and girls in Scotland.

This prompted a fascinating discussion led by the panel and the Netballl Scotland CEO Claire Nelson.  The delegates in the audience helped shape the discussion through their own experiences in netball, as they were all individuals active in the sport from grassroots through to elite level.

The types of events I usually attend are general sport policy or sport history conferences, both of which tend to have only a minority of female delegates, so it was refreshing to come to this event. This was such an inspiring conference environment where the majority of people in the room were experts in their sport and were having a real impact on sport in Scotland, and they were almost all women.

netball-scotland-annual-confernce-2

Netball is thriving as a sport in Scotland, with many ‘bounce back to netball’ teams bringing people back to this sport as adults, and the international netball of today is maybe a bit different to the netball we all remember from school.

Treagus (2005) has argued that in the early 20th century netball taught girls how to ‘play like ladies’, i.e. with ‘restraint’ in their sporting efforts, and a reserved physicality. This is not what we’re seeing today. The rules of the game haven’t changed much but the women and girls pushing this game forward are aspirational and confident rather than reserved, and, testament to their efforts, they have been nominated in the ‘Governing Body of the Year’ category for the Team Scotland Awards.

So the panel discussion centred on the vision of how to make netball the first choice sport for women and girls in Scotland. I started off the panel discussion by focussing in on the issue of what it means for a sport to be the first choice for women and girls – what does that actually mean in today’s society?

There is plenty to note about the issues we have in Scotland trying to get teenage girls to be active, but what I wanted to stress here was what is required for a sport to be the first choice for an adult woman in Scotland today, especially given the growing success of ‘bounce back to netball’ and high numbers of adult women returning to the sport. If you have a life that is already ‘full’ of childcare responsibilities, work responsibilities, family responsibilities, social responsibilities, where is the space for sport? In my book I note that 1970s Britain was a place where women still maintained the bulk of any childcare responsibilities and this therefore had a key impact on their sport and physical activity participation rates, or their ability to juggle these childcare responsibilities:

“These continuities in exercise experiences [from the 1930s to the 1970s] can be attributed to the lack of public funding to support development of both public sports facilities and sport in schools, and the persistent nature of gender relations in the household, which, whilst changing gradually throughout these years, still defined women as mothers first and foremost and the primary caregivers in the home.” (Macrae, 2016)

Has much changed today? At our feminisms conference a few weeks ago Zoe Fairbairns, and the majority of our speakers, reflected on how far we’ve come with feminism, but certainly also how far we still have to go.

There are numerous social changes that still need to be addressed if we are to develop equality in sport, and maintain the inclusivity of the ‘sport for all’ mantra that was the original 1970s policy focus for British sport. My point to Netball Scotland was that they have a real opportunity to shape and promote their sport as one that recognises the barriers still faced by women and girls in sport today. They can try and work around these barriers, offering something different as a sport for women, until we have more balance in wider society that frees women to engage in sport all throughout their lives without gendered barriers.  I hope Netball Scotland, and all those working in sport today, can rise to the challenge.

Eilidh Macrae (University of the West of Scotland)

WHS Annual Conference 2016- ‘Feminisms: Histories, Ideas & Practice’ – Report and Resources

[Images: top right © Scottish Women’s Aid Archive at Glasgow Women’s Library, bottom right © University of Glasgow Archive Services, DC127/22a]

Women’s History Scotland Annual Conference: ‘Feminisms: Histories, Ideas & Practice’

[Please see the ‘Resources‘ section below for access to some of the powerpoint presentations from the day and link to the audio on Soundcloud]

Conference Report – Hannah Telling

The annual WHS conference which examined the theme of ‘Feminisms: Histories, Ideas & Practice’, was held on Friday 9 September. Glasgow Women’s Library, recently lauded in the national press as ‘a treasure trove that shows how far feminism has come’, served as a fitting venue for this year’s event. At the completely sold out conference, delegates were treated to a host of wonderful papers, with themes ranging from the emergence of Women’s Aid to the feminist fashion of Doc Martens. The event concluded with the Sue Innes Memorial Lecture, delivered by the inimitable and inspiring Zoe Fairbairns.

After an introduction to Women’s History Scotland delivered by convenor Alison McCall, Tanya Cheadle delivered a paper on the late nineteenth-century feminist and socialist activist, Bella Pearce. Tanya’s paper talked of the ‘uneasy relationship between socialism and feminism in the 1890s’, as feminist social reformers attempted to navigate labour parties that were ‘first and foremost a man’s party’. Pearce’s feminist activism contrasted, in a perhaps unique example, with her unconventional faith. She became a devout disciple of a Christian sexual mysticism organisation, the Brotherhood of New Life, whose founder espoused the doctrine that ‘by denying sexuality, Christianity becomes sterile’. Tanya’s paper provided a fascinating insight into the relationships, activism and faith of one feminist reformer in late nineteenth-century Scotland.

Jane Rendall was next to deliver her paper, exploring female friendly societies in Scotland, c.1789-1830 and ‘the principle of Mutual Support’. Jane began her talk by discussing the role of ritual-based, religious and philanthropic societies and their growth in this period. Interestingly, whilst Jane had detected 1560 male friendly societies, only 66 female equivalents were discovered. These female friendly societies were concentrated in South West Scotland and were noticeably absent from the urban centres where the strength and influence of male trade predominated. Despite the limited number of female friendly societies, Jane revealed how such organisations helped to consolidate neighbourhood ties, provide recognition of women’s identities and allow members of all classes new experiences and opportunities.

Sarah Browne of the ‘Speaking Out’ project presented the final paper of the ‘Activism’ panel, examining the links between feminism and Women’s Aid in the 1970s and 1980s. Women’s Aid, which campaigned to end domestic abuse and assisted women seeking to escape abusive partners, emerged out of and became a testimony to the Women’s Liberation Movement. Sarah talked of how attention to the ‘Herstory of Women’s Aid’ allowed for a reclamation of women’s pasts, whilst providing opportunities for reflection on what had been achieved and what still needed to be done. Sarah reinforced the central tenet of Women’s Aid and indeed feminism – that the abuse of women was (and still is) central to women’s unequal position within society. In concluding, Sarah emphasised that whilst Women’s Aid is ‘always moving forwards’, the organisation’s roots in the Women’s Liberation Movement will continue to be acknowledged.

Georgia Mackay opened up the second panel on ‘Material and Visual Culture’ with a wonderful paper on Doc Martens and feminism. Georgia pointed out that Cinderella teaches us that ‘one shoe can change your life’, yet asked what happened when women rejected ‘overtly sexual’ sky-high heels for ‘kick ass heavy boots’, the Doc Martens. In a paper that explored the links between fashion and feminist subculture, Georgia explored the history of Doc Martens, whilst reinforcing the idea that ‘any item of clothing can be feminist if intended so by the wearer’.

Nel Whiting concluded the morning session with a paper that applied feminist methodology to portraiture, unearthing the subtle gender dynamics of David Allan’s The Family of the Earl & Countess of Hopetoun. Nel’s application of gender theory and close analysis revealed implicit power relations contained within the portrait. Nel argued that artwork reflected and replicated contemporary values and thus formed a key part of society’s discursive network, thereby demonstrates how analysing portraiture can be of great use to the researcher of eighteenth-century gender relations.

The editors of the 2nd edition of the ‘Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women’ gave an update on their progress after lunch, informing delegates that the volume will include 150 new entries of notable women throughout Scottish history.

In keeping with the theme of ‘Biographies’, Sarah Edwards delivered a paper on Dr Dorothy Meads, the principal of Bishop Otterly College. The paper included a history of the college itself, from teacher-training college to RAF base during World War II. Sarah talked about Dr Meads’ reforms and how she embodied the contemporary conceptualisation of female principal in this period – an amalgamation of feminine nurturer and masculine protector exhibiting quasi-parental control over the female students.

In the final paper of the day, Susan Batchelor presented an examination of the life and influence of Pearl Jephcott, whose pioneering sociological research privileged the experiences of ordinary young people in detailed and broad-ranging analyses. Susan showed how Jephcott utilised 1960s sociological approaches, yet also foreshadowed later developments, especially in the form of feminist epistemology in the 1980s. Susan concluded that ‘Jephcott was a sociology research pioneer, yet also a feminist research pioneer’.

The annual Sue Innes Memorial Lecture was delivered by Zoe Fairbairns, who began her lecture by thanking those who have worked so hard to keep Sue Innes’ name alive. Zoe’s wonderful lecture explored ‘Five Decades, Five Feminisms’, demonstrating the many developments that have been made in the pursuit of gender equality. Zoe took the enraptured audience through each decade, from the 1960s when feminism was yet to be named, to the challenges of the new millennium – terrorism, anti-feminist backlashes, the dangers of the internet-age and the continued prevalence of violence against women and children. Despite the work still to be done, Zoe’s lecture was ultimately celebratory. She said that ‘I would say that a lot has changed for the better, and that we, as feminists, should congratulate ourselves for our part in that’. Zoe cited greater representation of women in politics, the successful introduction of equal marriage, women in well-paid employment and men engaging in domestic duties as examples of the many developments achieved through five decades of activism and feminism. To rousing applause, Zoe concluded her lecture, and the WHS annual conference, using Sue Innes’ own words – ‘let’s go on making it work’. 


Resources

For those of you who couldn’t join us – click the relevant links below to access powerpoint presentations from some of the presentations on the day and the audio recordings on Soundcloud

PANEL 1: Activism

Tanya Cheadle, University of Glasgow – Bella Pearce / ‘Lily Bell’: Glasgow Feminist, Socialist and Christian Sexual Mystic – whn-glasgow-pp

Jane Rendall, University of York – ‘The principle of mutual support’: female friendly societies in Scotland c. 1789-1830 – rendall-glasgow

Sarah Browne, Heritage Project Co-ordinator, Scottish Women’s Aid – ‘Pledging our support to the seven demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement’: Feminism and the emergence of Women’s Aid in the 1970s and 1980s – brownewhspresentation

PANEL 2: Material/ Visual Culture

Georgia Mackay, University of Glasgow – The End of High Heels? Doc Martens and Feminism in the late 20th Century – the-end-of-high-heels

Nel Whiting, University of Dundee – A ‘voyeuristic fiction of candour’? Feminist Methodology and Portraiture 

PANEL 3: Biographies

Sarah Edwards, University of Strathclyde – Dr Meads and her wartime flock: the history and representation of Bishop Otter College at Bromley, 1942-45

Susan Batchelor, University of Glasgow – Pearl Jephcott and a Time of One’s Own – revisiting-jephcott-whs-conference-sb-080916

SUE INNES MEMORIAL LECTURE:

Zoë Fairbairns, Five Decades, Five Feminisms – http://www.zoefairbairns.co.uk/Sue_Innes_Memorial.pdf