Why do we need women’s genealogy?

The Women Who Made Me project is run by Wiltshire-based historian Lucy Whitfield (https://lucywhitfieldhistorian.co.uk/), initially as an off-shoot of her genealogy work at www.onceuponafamilytree.co.uk but it has since taken over with a vengeance.  The project seeks to bring the lives of real women from the past into focus, against a family history background traditionally populated by their male contemporaries, and inspire people to look again at their female ancestry. Lucy regularly talks to community groups about colourful women’s history, and runs projects and demonstrates at museums and history centres.

Historical records are reflective of the society at the time, when women enjoyed little rights of their own, and therefore their stories are harder to come by as they are eclipsed by the rather more obviously available information of men.

Their lives may be harder to find, but not impossible. Their stories are researched through documents and oral histories – for example folk songs – and brought to a modern audience to give a record of ordinary women’s experiences at different times through history.

Some come from my own research, into my own ancestry and those of others I research as part of Once Upon A Family Tree, while others are submitted (see the identifying criteria, below), all are true.

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Identifying criteria

To include the life of a woman in The Women Who Made Me, there has to be a story to tell beyond the bare details that she was born, she married, she died. The barest oral details of her life, or facts identified from records, can flesh out her story and bring her life into focus.

Exact identifying details are blurred (no surnames, exact addresses, exact years of birth or death) to protect the data of living family.

If you are unsure whether a woman – be she your mother, aunt, sister, daughter, second cousin once removed, godmother, or family friend – qualifies to have her story told, please contact me for advice.