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A woman navigating a STEM career in the 18th century

31 August 2018 by Jen

Image of double reflecting octant, an 18th century navigation tool

Double reflecting octant made by Ann Smith of Liverpool c. 1788-1800. – MMM.2007.173

From the earliest ocean going craft to today’s enormous container ships, navigation has been key to the history of seafaring. The ability to plot your position on a chart relative to where you were going has long been an essential part of safe passage. The science of navigation has improved seafaring, has saved lives, and has helped human beings to map the world with ever greater accuracy. The object pictured here is a Double Reflecting Octant, in its day the most accurate way to plot a ship’s latitude ever invented. This particular Octant dates from around the end of the 18th century and was made right here in Liverpool by Ann Smith, who ran a navigation shop in Pool Lane. Read more…

Walton Gaol force-feeding equipment on display

5 July 2018 by Kay

Suffragette Force Feeding Apparatus

Suffragette Force Feeding Apparatus. Image © National Justice Museum

Nothing quite brings home the horror of force-feeding than seeing the actual equipment; porcelain funnel, wooden mouth gag and long rubber tube, used to inflict torture on women. This set is even more disturbing to me as it was used at Walton Gaol, Liverpool.

When I first came across the items at the National Justice Museum, Nottingham, I knew we had to bring them home to be displayed here at the Museum of Liverpool. Read more…

History Pinning Merseyside suffrage – get involved

21 May 2018 by Kay

statue of woman holding a banner saying: Courage calls to courage everywhere

Statue of Millicent Fawcett © Fawcett Society

You many have seen recently that this statue of suffrage campaigner Millicent Fawcett was unveiled in Parliament Square, London; the first statue of a woman in the Square.

The statue helps highlight her life’s work of campaigning to get women the vote. One of her other legacies is The Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights.

A local branch, Fawcett Society Merseyside was launched on 8 March 2018 (International Women’s Day). One of the group’s aims is to promote our local suffrage history and they are using History Pin to showcase the Merseyside Suffrage Movement, as well as document the local groups’ key events and achievements.  Read more…

Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?

23 April 2018 by Sarah

Abolition banner designed in the workshop

As part of our International Women’s Day and #Vote100 programme, our visitors worked with textiles artist Seleena Daye to create a banner celebrating inspiring female abolitionists who fought to end slavery.

In this blog, Seleena shares the processes she used to create the banner and more about the inspiring women who are featured.

“So much of what we read around slavery and the abolition of it is very male centric, so to sit down with a bunch of women of all ages and celebrate through a medium often deemed as ‘women’s work’ was a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“The reasons why each participant made the piece they did were so varied, from the felt portrait of Sojourner Truth, which was made as a personal challenge to the creator as it was something she had never done and didn’t think she could do. To the embroidered portrait of the Forten Sisters, which was chosen because the creator of that piece is herself 1 of 3 sisters? The Mary Prince piece was chosen because Mary Prince came from Bermuda, like the grandparents of another attendee. Even the piece including an afro comb has a connection both to the creator and to slavery, bringing up discussions around Black hair and the heritage of hairstyles, for example around cornrows being used by enslaved women who, rarely being allowed time or opportunity to do their hair, may have desired a style that would last.

“When bringing the contributions together into a finished piece, I added imagery of other women abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and Ellen Craft and also explored ways in which people escaped from enslavement, through the Underground Railroad, quilt codes and navigating escape using constellations. There is the quilt code included in the banner, that meant ‘follow the North Star’ and the constellation in the centre is of The Big Dipper which features the North Star.

“In the banner’s corner are some dates, ‘1865 – 2018’, making reference to the date of abolition in the United States of America, and the words ‘Keep Fighting For Freedom’ sitting next to a portrait of Malala Yousafazi, who is a modern day female activist fighting for the freedom of young girls, pointing out that POC are still not truly free. In the opposite corner sits a square with bananas and a cotton plant, things we use today, that one time were picked by the hands of enslaved people, and in some cases still picked by people who don’t have basic human rights.

“I have also included coloured hessian within the banner to represent the goods being packed into hessian sacks, to indigo and African batik inspired fabrics that are a nod to the continent enslaved people were taken from, Africa. I hand dyed the centre piece fabric which was originally a pale blue cotton. I dyed one end green and the other midnight blue, signifying the huge journey many people took, from earth to the sky. The central image of the banner is a silhouette of a woman in shackles under the slogan ‘Am I not a woman and a sister’ which is inspired by abolition imagery used by campaigners at the time, but can also be a message that rings true today.

“It was such a pleasure to be able to create something so important amongst other women who stitched and spoke of solidarity and hardships and how far we’ve come and how far we still have yet to go.

We are women and sisters.”

 Our new female abolitionists banner is here at the International Slavery Museum within the Anthony Walker Education Centre.

This workshop was part of our Adult Creative Offer.

Ann Davison – the first woman to sail the Atlantic single-handed

9 March 2018 by Ellie

Ann Davison and her boat Felicity Ann

Ann with ‘FA’ at the New York Boat Show. Image courtesy of Shelly Randall. Copyright unknown.

This week National Museums Liverpool is celebrating International Women’s Day through displays, talks and events at many of our venues.

I want to share the story of Ann Davison (1914-1992), a amazing woman who was the embodiment of strength, courage and determination. She was a skilled pilot, a gifted author, an intrepid adventurer, and the first woman to sail the Atlantic single-handed.

“It wasn’t courage that sent me scurrying across the ocean. It was a little curiosity and a lot of desperation that went into the making of that particular dream…”

Last October I was lucky enough to attend an event at Mere Brook House, Wirral, to unveil of a blue plaque commemorating Ann. Until then I admit that I didn’t really have any knowledge of her, but when I started reading about her I was immediately drawn to her audacious nature and fearlessness.  Read more…

A story of female friendship and survival

7 March 2018 by Jen

Back and white photo of a large two funnelled liner, the City of Benares

City of Benares, Maritime Archives & Library, MMM collection, reference MCR/61/371 (copyright unknown, believed to be expired)

When I first started to think about women’s stories we could spotlight this year for International Women’s Day there was one in particular that instantly came to mind. I’ve blogged before about the sinking of the Ellerman liner, City of Benares. Torpedoed mid-Atlantic in 1940 while taking child evacuees to Canada, it’s one of the most heart-rending pieces of research I’ve ever carried out. As always with such tragedies though, the larger story is made up of hundreds of smaller, more personal, ones. Beth and Bess are one of these stories. Read more…

Celebrate International Women’s Day at National Museums Liverpool

6 March 2018 by Laura

National Museums Liverpool is marking International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March) with a programme of free exhibitions and events on the day and the following weekend (Saturday 10 and 11 March).

Through exhibitions, talks, workshops and poetry there are a variety of ways for everyone to get involved and celebrate this important date.

Gallery

‘Taking Liberties’ at Museum of Liverpool

Read more…

International Women’s Day with the Women’s Institute

5 March 2018 by Matt

This week we are celebrating International Women’s Day at the Museum of Liverpool.  We are proud to say that we will be delivering an event on 10 March with the local Women’s Institute.  Claire from the WI tells us more –

“To celebrate International Women’s Day and the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, Central Liverbirds Women’s Institute will be hosting a stand in the museum on Saturday 10 March from 1pm to 4pm. We will be giving short talks on four inspirational women who have impacted the lives of women on Liverpool and nationwide, as well as inviting people to meet our members and learn about our organisation and our local group.

We will be wearing period clothes while delivering our short talks on the four pioneering women: Mary Bamber, Bessie Braddock, Eleanor Rathbone and Kitty Wilkinson. All four women have strong links to Liverpool, and all individually and actively campaigned for women’s rights.

As members of the Women’s Institute, itself an organisation set up to help women in 1915 during the First World War, we think this a fabulous opportunity to link the work the WI has done over the years to celebrations of women gaining the vote and International Women’s Day. From the very beginning through its government sponsorship the WI helped to educate women in rural areas, helping them grow and preserve food to boost food supplies for the nation during the war. Our organisation has developed considerably over the years but education and skill sharing are at its heart as well as campaigning for issues that concern our members.

To be engaged in these activities on 10 March is a privilege and as a group which seeks to improve the lives of women all over the world we recognise the importance of the occasion.  We are delighted to share in the celebrations of these important dates, and the milestones in women’s rights. Most of all we look forward to sharing the lives of these very special women with their strong links to Liverpool and whose impact is still felt in our lives today.”

10 Decades On: Liverpool Women 100

2 February 2018 by Kay

Gallery

Taking Liberties on display in The People’s Republic

2018 marks 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act. After a long hard fight, some women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote for the first time. The Act also granted men over the age of 21 the vote. It would be another 10 years until this was equalised for women over the age of 21 in 1928.

The campaign in Liverpool saw both militant and peaceful tactics employed to win the basic right to vote. Women were jailed and force fed in Walton Gaol, bombs were planted around the city and windows smashed.  Read more…

Sapphic Suffragettes

31 January 2018 by Kay

Hilary McCollum

Courtesy of Hilary McCollum

Our final blog post in the run up to our exciting OUTing the Past: The 4th National Festival of LGBT History conference, 3 February, is from Hilary McCollum.

Hilary is a feminist activist, writer and campaigner from northwest Ireland. She will be presenting, ‘Sapphic Suffragettes: The key role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women’.  Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.