Wednesday, 28th July at 4pm (UK)
Women’s History Network Fellowship Celebration
Research talks from this year’s early-career and independent fellows.
Register for your place on the Zoom webinar: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_MS6j5X6ARGifrsBpVVCtlw
We do have a limit of 100 attendees, but you can also view the livestream of the seminar on the Women’s History Network Facebook page.
Speakers and Abstracts
Sarah Fox, ECR Fellow
‘“Contrary to her Profession as a Midwife”: skill, scandal, and the licensing of early modern midwives.
In 1663 Anne Knutsford, licensed midwife of Nantwich in Cheshire, was issued with an inhibition against practising midwifery by the Church for ‘lyeing, sweareing and curseing’ amongst other allegations. As if to confirm the charges, Anne allegedly ‘abused the authority of this court when the inhibition was served upon you & left with you, saying it should serve to wipe your arse with or to that effect’. According to the statements of her neighbours and local women, Anne ignored the church’s order and continued to deliver women of their babies. Anne’s combative and direct approach, along with the concerns of her neighbours offers a fascinating opportunity to study midwifery care, community and neighbourly interactions, and narratives of women’s skill and occupational responsibility in the early modern North.
 Cheshire Archive Service, EDC 5/1663/16.
Sarah Birt, ECR Fellow
Shops on the Strand: women in business in early modern Westminster, 1600-1740
The early modern period witnessed significant metropolitan expansion, which saw London’s population rise dramatically. The Strand, an important thoroughfare connecting the City of Westminster to the City of London, developed as a lively site of commerce. The New Exchange, opened in 1609, and the Exeter Exchange, built in 1676, were established as new locations for retailing beyond the boundaries of the City, featuring shops run by women and men. Key changes therefore took place in retailing in this period, with women retaining an important role in this process. This paper introduces ‘Shops on the Strand’, a postdoctoral research project by Dr Sarah Birt, which was funded by the Women’s History Network in 2020-2021.
Elizabeth Barnes, ECR Fellow
Refugees and Officers: narratives of race, gender, and sexual violence during the American Civil War, 1861-1865
As enslaved women fled plantations and crossed Union lines during the American Civil War, they encountered a new system of justice. Previously denied legal protection against sexual violence, the Black women who lived under US Army jurisdiction were able, for the first time, to seek redress for the crimes committed against them. The resulting court martial files offer a wealth of information about attitudes towards race, gender, and rape within the US Army – a force ostensibly fighting against slavery but as impacted by prevailing racist thought as all other areas of American life. This paper examines the comments that senior officers left on the trials of white men convicted of sexually assaulting Black women, highlighting how the realities of the war shaped these men’s views. Frequently, officers expressed outrage, indignation, and disgust at the ways their juniors treated formerly enslaved women. This outrage rarely translated into action, however: conviction rates and sentences were low, and Black women remained especially vulnerable to violations by soldiers. This gap between rhetoric and reality offers one avenue for understanding the limits of emancipation and equality in the aftermath of the conflict.
Katie Holmes, Independent Researcher, www.RunYoung50.co.uk
“I would like to see women running as far as the toughest man”
Dale Greig and the women’s marathon
In 1964, women in the UK were not permitted to run further than 3 miles in cross country and one mile on the track. Road running was almost exclusively the preserve of men. Worldwide, women’s participation in athletics was limited by “myths about female biology and sporting potential” (Hargreaves, 1994). At the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, the longest distance for women was the 800m, for men it was the marathon. It was to be another 20 years before the women’s marathon appeared on the Olympics programme.
On 23rd May 1964, Dale Greig (1937-2019), an accomplished athlete from Paisley, became a rulebreaker when she competed against men in the Isle of Wight Marathon. Was Greig a determined trailblazer or a reluctant champion of women’s rights?
This session will set Greig’s decision to run a marathon in the context of the organisation of men’s and women’s athletics in the UK, the limited opportunities for women to compete in road races and the prohibition of women at the marathon distance.
Drawing on contemporary reportage, interviews given by Greig in later life and recollections of people who knew her, it will examine the tension Greig experienced between the social significance of the act of running the marathon and her personal motivations.