Events, Seminars

24th March: ‘Finding Lydia Harvey: narrative, polyvocality, and historical justice’

Wednesday, 24th March at 4pm (UK)*

Finding Lydia Harvey: narrative, polyvocality, and historical justice

Dr Julia Laite, Birkbeck, University of London

Julia Laite will speak about her forthcoming book The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey:  A true story of sex, crime and the meaning of justice, which tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who, under the coercion of a charming man and his wife, left her job in Wellington in 1910 to sell sex in Buenos Aires and London, at the height of the ‘white slavery’ panic in the early twentieth century.  Starting from one file in the National Archives, Laite has pieced together the life of Lydia Harvey, as well as the lives of her traffickers and her ostensible rescuers; alongside the trafficking trial that entangled them, and its remarkable afterlife. In this seminar, Laite will introduce the key themes of the book, and consider the techniques she used to research and write this history. She will explore the new trend of global microhistory and the possibilities and challenges of digital archives. She will consider storytelling, especially polyvocal storytelling, as a historical technique, and ponder what exactly it is we think we are doing when we tell the stories of those who have almost disappeared from the historical record.

Dr Julia Laite is Reader in Modern History at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research examines the history of migration, gender, sex and sexuality, as well as family history, creative history and public history. She is the author of the Disappearance of Lydia Harvey (2021), Wolfenden’s Women (2020), and Common Prostitutes and Ordinary Citizens (2012), and is principal investigator of the AHRC-funded project Trafficking Past. 

Register for the Zoom webinar here:   

*Please note that UK daylight savings will take place on 28th March. So, if you are joining us from elsewhere, you should double check your local time. On the booking page, there is the option to select your time zone (click on the link next to the time, the default is ‘London’). You can also check time zones and changes here

Julia’s book The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A true story of sex, crime and the meaning of justice is available to pre-order now.

Surveillance photograph