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)

 

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