Deceitful bodies by Stephanie Fern Allen

In our latest blog, Stephanie Allen gives us an insight into historical notions of body modification and manipulation.

In the twenty-first century, we are becoming encouraged to embrace our bodies as they are. To showcase their qualities and embrace the natural flaws we were born with. Advertising campaigns such as Dove and Malteasers are showing society that all types of bodies are beautiful, whether they be petite, curvy, tall, scarred or disabled. These days self-expression and self-identity is very much reflected in how our bodies are presented, we choose which elements to enhance and which to cover up. I claim …

‘She made me stand on a wooden board when ironing…’ Suburban Domestic Life in 1930s Ireland, By Rachel Sayers

Our latest blog post mixes family, domestic, and Irish women’s history, and is written by Rachel Sayers.

My maternal Grandmother, Doris Moran nee Hamilton, often recalled to me her experiences of growing up in 1930s Dromore, County Down a small market town in the North of Ireland. These re-collections often centred around the excitement of her mother, my great-grandmother, Mary-Agnes Hamilton, bringing home new electrical appliances such as an iron, toaster, a kettle or the much sought-after wireless radio set. My great-grandmother was often ‘afraid’ of these new devices; a common fear since early electrical devices where sometimes shoddily …

Margaret Sanger and Elise Ottesen-Jensen: Their Early Connection, By Saniya Lee Ghanoui

In our latest blog, Saniya Lee Ghanoui gives us a fascinating glimpse into the epistolary relationship between Margaret Sanger and Elise Ottesen-Jensen.

In the early 1930s, American birth control reformer Margaret Sanger began corresponding with Swedish sex education leader Elise Ottesen-Jensen, founder, in 1933, of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU, Riksförbundent för sexuell upplysning). In this short post I highlight a single exchange between Sanger and Ottesen-Jensen that underscores how the pair drew upon one another for assistance with their respective efforts at liberalizing access to birth control and sex education. Fifteen years after the following exchange …



Edinburgh, 16th November 2019


Historical perspectives

Call for Papers

This conference will explore the idea of transgressing gender norms (including those relating to masculinity and femininity) and the consequences of this for individuals or groups. We welcome proposals relating to all historical periods (ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary) and all geographical places including Scotland.

We understand ‘gender transgression’ to refer to sets of ideas and practices that encompass (but are not restricted to) the following areas:

  • Legal, moral, ethical and religious frameworks
  • Wrongdoing, reformation and reconciliation
  • Borders and boundary crossing
  • Resistance and rebellion
  • Medicine,

Labour Women in Power: Cabinet Ministers in the 20th century – Dr. Paula Bartley.

(L-R Margaret Bondfield, Ellen Wilkinson, Barbara Castle, Judith Hart and Shirley Williams)

In this post, Dr. Paula Bartley gives us a sneak peak of her fabulous new book: Labour Women in Power: Cabinet Ministers in the 20th century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

In 1997 Tony Blair appointed the same number of women to Cabinet positions as there had been in the rest of the century. Between 1918 and 1997, only five Labour women held this high office of state: Margaret Bondfield, Ellen Wilkinson, Barbara Castle, Judith Hart and Shirley Williams.

The five who did manage to get to these …