Biography, Politics, Women's History

Jessie Kenney and women seafarers

Jessie battled on but to no avail. ‘These gentlemen … had dark and impenetrable notions on the subject.’ Instead she ‘decided to go to sea as a stewardess in the hopes that later I may be allowed to practice as a wireless operator.’

(Victoria Drummond had similarly been advised to give up and become a stewardess, but refused.)

By autumn 1926, Jessie was working on the Otranto – as a stewardess. She sailed for ten years with Furness and Orient line, and kept her dream fed by reading science and philosophy books when she could, as the lists in her diaries show.

But ‘How often I looked up at the wireless cabin … afterwards. How I had longed for the peace and solitude of the wireless cabin where after my labours I could study in peace.’ She wasn’t even accepted in WW2.

Politics, Source, Women's History

Feminist Historical Novels: An important contribution to writing women into history

Each writer has used historical fiction in a way that undermines the control of women’s reading. They have produced work that, while ostensibly is safe because it is ‘women’s fiction’, questions women’s place in history. Historical novels have had a mixed reception, not all of it respectful. Again, such a reputation has added to the advantages a feminist writer can enjoy in her writing history. Each writer has written her history inspired by women’s role, actions, feelings and aspirations.

Event, General, Politics

Girl Space – History, Culture & the Right to Play

Kindergartens long pre-dated the 1970s Movement, and childcare was a part of government action during wartime … In the First World War and the Second World War, governments – local, regional/state and national – established centres for children who were below school age or who required after-school care … Children gained the right to play, even if the motive in establishing centres was primarily the war effort and the need to have women move into posts vacated by men joining up and going to the front.

Event, Politics, Women's History

Basque Children and their Seafaring ‘Aunties’ – An Evacuation

In world wars, women, almost always volunteers, escorted children – together with disoriented adult refugees – on British ships. Often they were not even being paid expenses. Some were captured, interned and even killed during their WW2 voyages.

Called ‘aunty’, many of the women were experienced travellers and lively independent types, at a time when women’s mobility was still limited and their solo travel problematic. Unsung and overlooked, these pioneers deserve recognition. They were members of a minority who cleverly utilised gendered conventions (‘women are suitable carers for little ones’) to do all the travelling they could, despite low incomes.