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CONFERENCE REPORT: Gender and Political Groups In Britain c.1650-1950 – University of Northampton – 19th May 2023 – Kathrina Perry and Kerry Love

A conference on Gender and Political Groups In Britain c. 1650 -1950 was organised by our Blog Editor, Kathrina Perry along with her PGR colleague, Kerry Love and was held at the University of Northampton on May 19th 2023.

The conference saw 5 panels on various topics including masculinity in political groups; early political groups; women, socialism and the Labour party; women in political spaces and environments; and rethinking Labour women’s activism through the local, 1900-1939. Papers came from a mix of speakers from both PhD researchers as well as those more experienced. Questions were taken at the end of each panel.

Panel one saw three papers considering women in political spaces and environments, with Dr Lisa Berry-Waite (The National Archives) and Dr Mari Takayangi (Parliamentary Archives) discussing research on women working within the parliamentary environment and Dr Carmen M. Mangion (Birkbeck University of London) considering St Joan’s Social and Political Alliance. All three papers considered the challenges of women entering these predominantly male spaces.

Panel two considered early political groups with a paper from Suzanne Weston (PhD student, University of Dundee) sharing her research on the Scottish Privy Council and Dr Helen Sunderland (St Catherines College, Oxford) gave an interesting presentation on schoolgirls and mock elections between 1870-1914.

The final panel before lunch saw discussions on Sunday Schools in Britain 1907-1927 by Dr Liam Ryan (University of Bristol) and a study of women’s letters to the British labour/socialist press by Hannah Speed (PhD Student, University of Glasgow).

After a break for lunch, kindly funded by Gale Cengage, who also have provided access to some of their digital resources for those who attended we convened for the afternoon with a panel on masculinity in political groups. This panel saw presentations on military masculinity and political campaigning in the Corps of Commissionaire, 1859-1904 by Nick Bailey (PhD Student, University of Leeds) and another look at the masculinity of the Palace of Westminster by Chloe Challender (PhD Student, University of Warwick/Parliamentary Archives).

Our final panel considered the role of Labour women’s activism within the local. Papers from Dr Anna Muggeridge (University of Worcester), Dr Ruth Davidson (Queen Mary University) and Michaela Panes (PhD Student, University of Cardiff) considered women’s involvement in Labour activism in Worcester, peace campaigns in South Wales and municipal welfare in Croydon.

Our plenary speaker was Dr Matthew Roberts (Sheffield Hallam University) who discussed the depth of topics that had been considered throughout the day and the number of approaches considered.

The conference showed the breadth of resources when considering gender and political groups as well as highlighting the challenges with such a topic. The theme gave a great focus and the range of papers complimented each other to create an enlightening and interesting event.


Kerry Love is a PhD student at the University of Northampton. Her research focuses on political objects in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with an interest in reform movements.

Kathrina Perry is a PhD student in History at University of Northampton. Her 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”. She is one of the blog editors for the Women’s History Network.

Images credit: Kathrina Perry