What’s the point of @womenwhomademe?
We want to encourage people to engage with their female family history, working to add societal value to women’s social history from the grass roots up.
What are you going to do with these stories?
The idea is to build a resource of women’s social history that can be drawn upon by anyone – casual interest, genealogist, researcher, historian, PhD students and anyone with an interest in women of the past.
What’s the eventual aim?
At the moment we’re a blog because it’s easiest that way. But eventually, a website and perhaps a book (or two!). We want everyone to engage with their female ancestry.
Who is behind The Women Who Made Me?
The project is run by Lucy Whitfield, a historian and genealogist with a special interest in women’s history and ancestry.
Whose idea was this? Do you get paid?
It was entirely my (Lucy’s) idea, which arose from genealogy clients favouring their patronym over any other form of their ancestry, and dismissing the women in their background as not having value or being interesting. And no, the blog isn’t paid for – I do do paid research though, on various aspects of social history and genealogy, and sometimes discover women’s stories in the course of this, but overall no money is made from the project. Yet.
Are all of these women relatives of yours?
Not at all, sadly (I’d be really lucky if I had this amount of interesting ancestry!). Some are, but mostly they are people I’ve discovered in the course of research or submissions from other researchers, genealogists and interested people. We really encourage people to submit women they’ve found to this project.
Why do you have an anonymity policy?
Family used to be something that was very private, and only talked about behind closed doors. It can make members of the older generations feel uncomfortable to have their details aired in public. Therefore, the project uses first names and maiden name initials only so that the stories can be told without identification. We’re not adverse to full names as long as family agree.
Why don’t you feature women in STEM or famous women?
We do, if we come across them, but generally those women are in the public record already. Our aim is to discover new stories, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, so we tend not to look at them. Women in STEM – who are obviously amazing, challenged expectations, and broke glass ceilings – are often talked about via “male” parameters, and we are about expanding value of the full female life experience.
Where do you find all your information?
It’s all in the public domain – census records, BMDs, travel records, church records, old newspapers, maps, museums, Google. Oral history from relatives is the icing on the cake. It’s all about following a story through, and not accepting that if a woman is listed as a wife of someone she didn’t have a interesting life or wasn’t valuable.
Can anyone submit a story?
Yes please! We want as many stories as possible, and to get everyone to engage with their female ancestry.
My female relative just had babies and kept the house, she’s not interesting, you wouldn’t want her story…
Yes, we would! Who said that a woman who gave birth eight times and kept a house clean without chemical cleaners or a vacuum didn’t have value? Just because it was the norm back then, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an achievement. Get a fuller picture of her – who was she before she married, and what did she do once she was widowed. Read this account of multiple working motherhood and have another think: https://thewomenwhomademe.wordpress.com/2018/01/21/anonymous-story/
Will you speak at our WI meeting?
Absolutely. I am available for talks of all kinds – museums, libraries, history centres, townswomen’s guilds, family history societies, WIs, NWR, soroptomists, bat mitzvahs and so on. Here’s a video that shows what I can do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvRrjZD1sAc
Will you research my ancestor for me?
I’d love to. Please get in touch and we’ll discuss it.
Can you advise me how to go about researching “ordinary” women?
Of course. Please get in touch for a chat.