Steering Committee Biographies

Sarah Richardson (Professor of British history at the University of Warwick)

I am  a political historian specialising in the role of women in the political culture of Britain in the long nineteenth century. My recent book, The Political Worlds of Women: Gender and Political Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain demonstrated the many and diverse ways in which women contributed to the political life of the nation. As a former Director of the Higher Education Academy’s History Subject Centre, I have influenced the development of policy towards History teaching and learning at schools and HE level. I won a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship in 2010 and am a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2019 I was made an Honorary Fellow of the Historical Association in recognition of my outstanding contribution to history. I am currently a member of the panel reviewing the QAA History Subject Benchmark Statement. I am committed to disseminating my research to the wider public and am a regular speaker at local history groups and societies as well as media interviews and articles. In 2018 I contributed to the Voice and Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament exhibition at Westminster Hall which attracted over 100,000 visitors. I co-edit the Modern History Review, a history magazine aimed at sixth formers and distributed to over 900 schools. I am currently working with Tara Morton (and in conjunction with independent researchers and local history groups) on the Mapping Women’s Suffrage project (https://www.mappingwomenssuffrage.org.uk/) developing an interactive resource which seeks to map as many known women’s suffrage activists as possible.

Tahaney Alghrani Currently I am completing a PhD and also a Graduate Teacher. My research, funded by the University of Liverpool, centres on juvenile institutions in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My primary focus is on the ideology, reform and discipline of juvenile females incarcerated within reformatories and industrial schools. My interdisciplinary approach is to investigate historical sources utilising sociological/criminological theories to locate the position of young women in port/urban locations and their pathway into incarceration. I am also interested in the aftercare/probationary practices of the Victorian era and current-day policies. The findings of this research will contribute to and enhance the ongoing debate around issues of female juvenile incarceration and probationary policies. Prior to my PhD research, I was a school teacher and my specialist subject was History.

Helen Antrobus  Since beginning my career in museums seven years ago, I have worked tirelessly to firmly place women’s history at the heart of public memory, commemoration, and celebration. From beginning as an archive assistant cataloguing the papers of Ellen Wilkinson, to curating national programmes at the National Trust, it has remained the primary drive for my work.  As a curator first at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, I curated an award-winning, internationally received exhibition responding to the 2018 centenary, working with community groups and activists to provide contemporary responses to the last 100 years of political and social representations of women’s rights. Working with a range of women’s community groups and organisations, I led on contemporary collecting projects, oral history recordings, and community exhibitions throughout 2018. 

As Curator of National Public Programmes at the National Trust, I have consistently advocated for challenging histories and feminist histories to be brought to the fore of heritage, visitor experience, and collecting cultures. Working with the University of Oxford research partnership, I have co-convened conferences and academic workshops, promoting academic research within the National Trust, and hosted undergraduate and postgraduate research projects across our property portfolio.  My first book, First in the Fight: Twenty Women Who Made Manchester was published in Autumn 2019, and I am currently working on my second. As a public historian, I work closely with BBC and Channel 5, both in a consultation role and as a featured historian on several radio and television documentaries.

Susan Cohen was awarded her ​PhD  ​by the University of Southampton ​in ​20​05 for a thesis on  Eleanor Rathbone and her work for Refugees.   ​The monograph from this was published by Vallentine Mitchell in 2010.   She has written numerous books on social and nursing history for Shire, ​and has a new book out for ​Pen and Sword​. In 2015 she ​co-founded the Remembering Eleanor Rathbone group, which organised a range of events from talks to conferences and art displays, in London and Liverpool during 2016, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Eleanor Rathbone’s death in 1946. She undertook oral history interviews for the Holocaust Survivor Centre in London.  She is currently writing a history of nurses and nursing for Amberley.

Helen Glew is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Westminster. She specialises in women’s employment in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is also interested in the history of feminism and women in the public sphere more widely. Her monograph Gender, Rhetoric and Regulation: women’s work in the Civil Service and the London County Council 1900-1955 was published by Manchester University Press in 2016 and her work has also appeared in Women’s History Review and Information and Culture: A Journal of History as well as in several edited collections. Her current project is a social and cultural history of the marriage bar and married women’s right to work, 1870-1960. Helen has extensive experience in conference organisation and regularly speaks at public events on topics relating to women’s history.

Sarah Hellawell is Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Sunderland. Her research examines the nature of British women’s transnational activism in the twentieth century. She is currently working on her first monograph, which looks at the British Women’s International League during the interwar years, based on her PhD research. Her article on the internationalism of the Women’s Co-operative Guild was published in Twentieth Century British History. Her work has also appeared in Women’s History Review and several edited collections. Inspired by the recent suffrage centenary, she has embarked on a local project on the work of Sunderland’s first female MP, Dr Marion Phillips. This research has led to community engagement events and the installation of a blue heritage plaque. Before taking up her current post, she was Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded project, titled British ex-service students and the rebuilding of Europe, which led to an article in History: Journal of the Historical Association.

Dr Anne Logan  Having just retired from the University of Kent and been made an Emeritus Reader, I am pleased to take on some new voluntary activity on behalf of Women’s History Network and have more time to do so than hitherto!  I was previously on the Steering Committee some years ago and I served as charity representative and was a magazine editor from 2011 to 2015.  I was one of the main organisers of the 2015 WHN annual conference held at Canterbury and I have also put together several one-day regional conferences and workshops for the southern region, something I hope to do again in the future.  In addition to teaching and research, in recent years I have had a good deal of experience of working with community groups, volunteers and non-academic organisations such as local museums. I enjoy public engagement activities greatly and am looking forward to helping lead the WHN steering committee efforts for community engagement, including the organisation of the Community History Prize.

Lyndsey Jenkins is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary University of London, where she is undertaking a research project entitled ‘A Woman’s Place is in the House? Labour Women MPs 1945-79’. Her doctoral research, funded by the AHRC and the Oxford Centre for Life Writing, was undertaken at Wolfson College, Oxford, analysing the lives and careers of a family of working-class suffragettes. The book based on this research is forthcoming in the Oxford Historical Monographs Series with Oxford University Press.  She is also collaborating with Alexandra Hughes-Johnson on a publication showcasing some of the exciting scholarship on suffrage emerging out of the 2018 centenary. She was the 2017 recipient of the Caroline Spurgeon Award from the British Federation of Women Graduates, and was also awarded a Bryce Reed Studentship from the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford. Her 2015 publication, Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr, was a Sunday Times Biography of the Year and shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed/Biographer’s Club Best First Biography Prize. A historian of women, power and politics, she has held lectureships at Mansfield, Magdalen and St John’s Colleges, Oxford. She is a former civil servant and government speechwriter. She is particularly interested in widening participation and attracting a new generation of students and researchers to women’s history.

Alexandra Hughes-Johnson is a historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain with a particular interest in women and political activism. She is a Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and the Research Coordinator for the Women in the Humanities Research Programme. Alexandra’s PhD, ‘Rose Lamartine Yates and the Wimbledon WSPU: Reconfiguring Suffragette History from the Local to the National’, was awarded by Royal Holloway University in 2018. Alexandra has been a member of WHN since 2013 and presented her research at a number of WHN conferences. She is currently working on a book chapter that explores the establishment of new suffrage organisations during the First World War and an article that focuses on the establishment of the Women’s Record House and the memorialisation of the suffrage campaign during the interwar period. Her next research project will build on her interest in women’s politics at a local level, and analyse womens’ election to local county councils after 1918.

Anna Muggeridge is a social and cultural historian of twentieth century Britain. She is currently completing a PhD at the University of Worcester, which examines the ways in which women in the Black Country were politicised through the ordinary and the everyday in the first half of the twentieth century. Her main research interests are in histories of women’s politics after suffrage, and histories of the domestic. She has a strong commitment to public engagement and had worked with the Black Country History Museum and History West Midlands to share women’s histories from the region with a wider audience. Anna has a longstanding interest in women’s history and has been a member of the Women’s History Network since 2014, when she studied for an MA at the University of Warwick. She has presented papers at a number of WHN conferences and looks forward to attending the 2019 Annual WHN Conference later this year.

Nancy Highcock is a social historian and archaeologist interested in social identities and intercultural contact the ancient Near East. As a postdoctoral researcher at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, she is part of the project “Memories for Life: Materiality and Memory of Ancient Near Eastern Inscribed Private Objects.” One integral aspect this research project (with Dr Christina Tsouparopoulou) is the analysis of inscribed objects commissioned and dedicated by people living in ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) over the course of three millennia (c. 2700-100 BCE) through the lens of gender identity with a particular focus on the material religion of female worshippers and female deities. In addition to this project, she is engaged in research on the relationship between dress items, craft production, and women’s economic agency in early second millennium Anatolia, having recently published an initial article on the subject: “To Toggle Back and Forth: Clothing Pins and Portable Identities in the Old Assyrian Period” (Fashioned Selves, ed. Megan Cifarelli, Oxbow 2019). She is the director of the lower town excavations at the site of Kınık Höyük-Niğde in southern Cappadocia, Turkey where she is focusing on domestic spaces and their associated craft industries and food pathways from Early Bronze Age (c 2700 BCE) through the Late Hellenistic period (1st century BCE). Nancy is currently writing her first monograph, Community Across Distance: the Forging of Assyrian Identity Between Assur and Anatolia. This work, based on her dissertation completed at New York University in 2018, explores the ways in which high levels of mobility shaped socio-political institutions and collective identities in an ancient Near Eastern Bronze Age mercantile community.

Laurel Forster is Reader in Cultural History at University of Portsmouth. Her specialism lies in women’s cultural history of the twentieth century, with particular interests in the subjects of media, women’s writing and the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s. Her publications focus upon ways in which women’s cultures are represented in magazines, film and television, in creative practices such as writing, cookery and domestic crafts, and in the female literary canon. Her monograph Magazine Movements: Women’s Culture, Magazines and Media Form (Bloomsbury 2015) discusses women’s magazines (print and broadcast) across the twentieth century. She is currently co-editing The Edinburgh History of Women’s Periodical Culture in Britain: The Postwar Period for Edinburgh University Press

Laurel is co-lead of a Heritage Lottery Fund project ‘The Hidden Heritage of a Naval Town: Women’s Activism in Portsmouth since 1960’ (£73,000). This grant arose out of a conference ‘Historicising the Women’s Liberation Movement’, and a resulting special issue of Women’s History Review (Vol 25 (5) 2016). This project has gathered women’s testimonies of local activism, over fifty in number, and made this unknown history available through a website, published records, a pop-up exhibition, and a permanent archive. It is a wide-ranging and ambitious work of oral history and feminist recovery and involves external partners including museums, libraries and schools.

Recently (March 2019), Laurel organised an international symposium and public lecture at Portsmouth University on ‘Cookbooks: Past, Present and Future’, drawing on her expertise from The Recipe Reader (2003). Laurel is a member of the Southern Broadcast History Group and regularly hosts their seminars. She gives regular seminar papers and reviews for publishers and academic journals. She has an editorial role with The London Magazine, London’s oldest literary periodical. She is a member of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Peer Review College, to review funding bids and allocate monies nationally. She has given keynotes to general and academic audiences, at the V&A, Women’s Library and Balliol college, Oxford.   Last year (2018), Laurel co-organised the centenary WHN Annual conference ‘The Campaign for Women’s Suffrage: National and International Perspectives’, helping June Purvis to host this at University of Portsmouth. Laurel is also on the editorial team for the WHN Journal.

Becki Hines

Becki Hines is currently a PhD student at the University of Worcester and her thesis is titled ‘Navigating stretching boundaries: The perils of conducting relationships in Worcestershire and surrounding areas, 1939-1948’. Her research interests centre around the effects of war on gender structures and women’s lives and she also recently completed a masters at the University of Birmingham on the punishment of transgressive female behaviour in France at the end of the Second World War. When she is not holed up in an archive or library she spends her days lecturing in accountancy as she is also a qualified accountant and tax advisor.

Kate Murphy is a Principal Academic at Bournemouth University, where she has worked since 2012. Prior to her academic career, she worked at the BBC for 24 years, primarily as a producer of Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, which has heavily informed her research. While  at the BBC, she completed a part-time PhD which looked into BBC women’s experiences of employment in the interwar years. This formed the basis for her monograph Behind the Wireless: An Early History of Women at the BBC which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016.  She established the BA (Hons) History degree at Bournemouth and was Programme Leader for several years. 

Kat Perry I am a current PhD student in History at University of Northampton.  My thesis title is “The motivations and social significance of philanthropy in the boot and shoe industry in Northampton in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century”. It considers the links between the industry and many philanthropic actions by, not only the boot and shoe manufacturers, but also the influence of their wives and daughters particularly in the Liberal and Radical political movements that were prominent in Northampton during the period.  I studied an MA in Local History at Open University, where my dissertation on Bus Services in Northampton: 1920-1950 considered the role of women in the bus industry during the Second World War. 

Prior to my PhD research, I was a music lecturer at Northampton College. I am now a freelance virtual assistant and researcher. 

Catia Rodrigues is currently a TECHNE/AHRC PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research examines how collectives of women from different artistic groups (e.g. artists, patrons, models) engaged with the evolution of Pre-Raphaelitism across the nineteenth-century, and how this reflects in their artistic partnerships, networks, and stylistic choices. Other research interests include Arts & Crafts, Aestheticism, Decadence, Fin-de-siècle, Gothic revival, Women’s Writings, and nineteenth-century visual art.  She is also currently a PGR Mentor at Royal Holloway, and she has vast experience working in the museums sector. She has previously worked with Imperial War Museum, and is currently collaborating with the Charles Dickens Museum and Royal Holloway’s Picture Gallery as a volunteer. Catia’s current research and interests reflect her eagerness to promote women’s history, and she is looking forward to learning and promoting new innovative research that is being conducted in the field.

Norena Shopland is an author and historian specialising in the history of sexual orientation and gender identity, particularly in reference to Wales. She is responsible for several ground-breaking projects; for example, she secured an NHLF grant for Welsh Pride, the first project in Wales to highlight the country’s LGBTQ+ people, allies and events; and managed Gender Fluidity, the first funded trans project in Wales. Her book Forbidden Lives: LGBT stories from Wales (Seren Books, 2017)is the first completely historical work on Welsh sexual orientation and gender identity. The Veronal Mystery (Wordcatcher Publishing, 2020) examines a real-life gay crime; and A Practical Guide to Searching LGBTQIA Historical Records (Routledge, 2020)has become very popular as a toolkit to aid people doing original research. She is one of the founders of the network forum Hanes LHDT+ Cymru / LGBTQ+ Research Group Wales, which supports and encourages those doing original research.

Norena also writes on women’s histories and is currently working with the Big Pit museum on the first exhibition of Welsh women coal workers. Her book A History of Women in Men’s Clothes: from cross-dressing to empowerment (Pen and Sword Books, 2021) looks at the thousands of individuals who defied social convention by dressing as men.

Other works include: Norena’s collection of Welsh button badges was turned into an exhibition, Miniature Memories, by Swansea Waterfront Museum (2021); she worked with Race Council Cymru on their Windrush Cymru NHLF project (2020). Her book The Curious Case of the Eisteddfod Baton (Wordcatcher Publishing, 2019) celebrates choral singing and the mining of Welsh gold; and The Welsh Gold King: a biography of William Pritchard Morgan, MP (Pen and Sword Books, 2022) examines the extraordinary life of the man behind the second and last gold rush in the UK.

Norena lectures extensively and appears regularly in the press, radio, and TV; and is one of Wales Online’s most influential gay women (2021); on the Pinc List: Wales’ most influential LGBT+ people (2020 & 2019); On Wales Arts Review: 100 Women of Wales on Twitter (2020); Wen Wales 100+ Welsh Women (2020).

Rachel Alexandra Chua is a PhD candidate at University College London who works on the gender history of late imperial China, stretching broadly into the Republican period. Her research explores the changing dynamics of gender as it relates to modernity narratives, community cultures, and spatial transitions. Her work focuses on the southern provinces of China, particularly Fujian, and aims to shed light on autochthonous manifestations of women’s agency. She is currently working on examining way in which the introduction of biomedical hospitals to China in the late Qing and early Republican periods opened up new forms of spaces for Chinese women. Her work utilises a vast array of sources, including missionary records, legal cases, poetry and literature, newspapers, periodicals, and personal papers.

Rachel’s previous work analysed the historical narratives of travel writing, focusing on the travelogues of Euro-American women travelling through the Qing empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  She explored how these narratives relate to the broader themes of colonialism, imperialism, and (Western) imperial expressions of identity and agency. Rachel completed her undergraduate degree in Law from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2015, and her Master’s in Empires, Colonialism, and Globalisation (International History) from the LSE in 2018. She has previously worked as a lawyer and is very interested in all forms of socio-legal history, gender history, and decolonisation discourses.

Urvi Khaitan I am a doctoral student in economic and social history at the University of Oxford. My research, funded by Oxford and Kellogg College, focuses on gender, labour, and empire in twentieth-century South Asia. I am particularly interested in the effects of war and famine on women’s work and survival, and my doctoral thesis aims to examine how gender, caste, class, and empire shaped working women’s experiences in the turbulent South Asian economy during the Second World War. I hold an undergraduate degree in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and an MPhil in Economic and Social History (Distinction) from the University of Oxford, where my dissertation on women coal miners in colonial India was awarded the 2019 Feinstein Prize. Apart from sitting in dusty archives, I am passionate about working to increase public engagement with complicated histories.

Vicky Iglikowski-Broad is Principal Records Specialist in Diverse Histories at The National Archives, in this role she strives to highlight traditionally margionalised histories within a state archive. She recently completed a fellowship with the Wellcome Collection on the theme of ethics and collaboration in the heritage sector, with a focus on the history of sex work.  Vicky specialises in communicating her research through public engagement activities, working with community groups and artistic practitioners to reach wider audiences. In 2020, she was lead curator of The National Archives ‘With Love’ exhibition. In 2018, she led The National Archives Suffrage 100 actives, resulting in a number of exciting, research-led projects, including: 100neHundred, a community and youth archival inspired dance project; Suffragette City, an immersive experience in collaboration with the National Trust, and Suffragettes vs. the State, an on-site exhibition focusing on the militant side of the 20th-century women’s suffrage movement. In 2017, she worked with the National Trust to re-open the gay-friendly Caravan Club based on surviving archival records.  

Archival specialisms include the Black British Civil Rights movement, queer history and spaces in the early 20th century and the women’s suffrage movement. Vicky has promoted her research through various platforms, including TV, radio and podcasts (BBC Radio 3, Sky News and BBC Women’s Hour).  Vicky holds an MA in Women and Gender History from Royal Holloway University, where her dissertation focused on feminism and the movement for rational dress in the late 19th-century.

Hazel  Perry  I am a Museum worker, GCSE and A-Level History Tutor and a Postgraduate Research Student funded by De Montfort University, Leicester.

Research for my PhD thesis focuses on the subject of Trades Union Councils and working class politics 1899-1979. My research rarely features women, but where they exist in the records, I try to champion their cause through making them the subject of blogs, conference papers and talks at local events – I am passionate about sharing the stories of women in history. 

My role on the WHN Steering Committee is Charity Representative and I had experience in a similar role as Treasurer of the Green Backyard Community Garden in 2017-18.  

Samantha Hughes-Johnson is an art historian and confraternity scholar whose main area of expertise involves fifteenth-century Florentine art, architecture, material culture, lay religiosity and social history. Her past research focussed on groups marginalised during the Renaissance and she has published and lectured extensively on the clandestine operations of the Archconfraternity of the Buonomini di San Martino, the fresco decoration of this company’s oratory, the ashamed poor (who benefitted from this secret society’s charity) and several high-profile historic individuals connected with the sodality. Samantha is also particularly interested in the language of women’s clothing and gesture in quattrocento Florentine art and has published and lectured on this subject.

More recently however, Samantha has re-focussed her attention on Tudor England, rather than Medicean Florence. Her new project is an investigation into the critical roles that ordinary people played within guilds, confraternities and other lay charitable institutions. Entitled, ’O Death Rock Me to Sleep’: Plague, Confraternity, Piety and Charity in Tudor England, this interdisciplinary study will focus equally on the lay women and men who, while plague and religious turmoil swept the country, struggled to remain united for shared purposes and mutual benefit. Simultaneously, Samantha is proposing an edited collection of essays entitled, Reconsidering Female Agency in Early Modern England 1350-1750. The volume seeks to reassess women’s interventions in an holistic manner: by exploring the range of diverse locations in which women played out their performative roles in the theatre of everyday life and investigating the various innovative ways in which they asserted and exercised their personal influence.

When Samantha is not researching or writing, she is committed to the various duties that she undertakes for the Italian Art Society, the Society for Confraternity Studies and Women’s History Today. In her spare time, she is a staunch advocate for sexual, social and racial equality and actively supports several local community projects.

Vicky Holmes research, uses coroner’s inquests to peer behind closed doors, examines life in the Victorian working-class home. Her recent book, In Bed with the Victorians (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), awarded the Scouloudi Historical Research Award, examines the life cycle of working-class marriage through examining the most essential of objects, the bed. Her forthcoming edited collection, The Working Class at Home, 1790-1940 (Palgrave Macmillan) brings together emerging scholars in the field of the study of home to provide a reappraisal of the material and emotional home, as well as documenting the experiences of home found beyond the working-class dwelling. Her current project focuses on the social, economic, and cultural history of the Victorian domestic dwelling lodger. Vicky, as well as having a background in museums and libraries, has also worked on a range of research projects prior to and after completing her PhD in 2012, particularly in the areas of charity and finance.

Erin Newman I am currently a PhD candidate at Nottingham Trent University, my research focuses on Crime and Gender, by both men and women, during the Civil War and Interregnum for the East Midlands region of England. I analyse the Quarter Session records for crime statistics seeking to explore how religious, political, socioeconomic, and topographical factors affected the region during this time. Furthermore, alongside the statistics, I examine case studies to understand how notions of gender impacted on crime and intertwined with these other elements.

This interest with the criminal underworld, naughtiness and challenging the norms, particularly in such a turbulent time as the Early Modern period, developed throughout my BA and MA undertaken at the University of Lincoln. My undergraduate dissertation focused on the representation of Catholic and Protestant female martyrs in the sixteenth century, and my MA dissertation explored aspects of female criminality during the seventeenth century. My post/graduate work has focused on the representation of women considered outside of the norms in various forms of court and popular literature, with particular attention paid to how gender has influenced those representations.

I also, currently, hold a position as an Associate Lecturer with the University of Lincoln.

Outside of academia, I am secretary to the Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society, which includes volunteering at the Old Rectory Museum.