Women’s History Month

Since March is Women’s History Month, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight some blogposts that have appeared here on Quaker Strongrooms over the years, in case you missed them. And over on Facebook we’ll be bringing you some glimpses of women’s history highlights from the Library collections during the coming weeks.

Last year we blogged about the position of women within the Society of Friends, the role of separate women’s meetings, and the struggle for women to have a voice in the Society: https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2019/06/18/respected-friend-women-and-equality-in-the-society-of-friends/. As 17th century Quakers had argued for women to be allowed to preach, and women Friends had a reputation for fearless ministry, this was a surprise even for some Quakers!

Womens Two Weeks Meeting Minute book 1779-1783

Womens Two Weeks Meeting. Minute book 1779-1783

In an earlier Women’s History Month blogpost we gave readers a whistle-stop tour of resources for women’s history in the Library: https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2017/03/01/quaker-women-resources-for-womens-history-in-the-library-of-the-society-of-friends/. Whether it’s records of women’s Quaker meetings, pamphlets by seventeenth century women writers, unpublished manuscript diaries, letters and papers, or photographs, there’s a wealth of primary source material. In the blogpost we also listed a few helpful secondary sources for each century.

Quaker meeting attributed to Heemskerk F070

The Quaker Meeting, oil painting attributed to Egbert van Heemskerk, late 17th century (Pic F070)

Other blogposts have focused on some remarkable Quaker women.

Margaret Langdale (1684?-1742) was an early 18th century travelling minister. We pieced together evidence about her travels to Ireland, Holland and America and identified her as the author of a unique broadside in Dutch: https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2015/05/29/sole-survivor-a-dutch-broadside-by-an-early-18th-century-woman-friend/.

Broadside by Margaret Langdale, about 1717

Margaret Langdale, Aan de Inwoonderen van de Steden Leeuwaarden, Harlingen, en Workum in Friesland, en Medenblik in Noord-Holland. Published about 1717 (Vol. D/48)

Anne Knight (1786-1862) was a social reformer and feminist. A carte de visite photograph from 1855 among her papers (MS Box W2) inspired our special collections curator to blog about her: https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2015/09/18/the-life-of-a-photograph-and-an-extraordinary-woman/.

Anne Knight, photograph by Victor Franck, c.1855 (MS BOX W2)

Catherine Impey of Street (1847-1923) campaigned against racial discrimination and published a pioneering magazine, Anti-Caste from 1888 to 1895: https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2012/09/18/catherine-impey-of-street-somerset-and-her-radical-anti-racist-newspaper/.

Twentieth century women have been particularly well-represented on the blog, especially those who contributed in the field of humanitarian relief and peace, thanks to the focus on World War One and its aftermath in recent years. A single blogpost from 2016 describes the contribution of three of these women – Joan Mary Fry, Elizabeth Fox Howard and Francesca Wilson – and details what primary and secondary sources on them you can find here in the Library: https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2016/03/23/three-remarkable-women-of-the-twentieth-century-joan-mary-fry-elizabeth-fox-howard-and-francesca-wilson/.

Joan Mary Fry

Joan Mary Fry (1862-1955) (Pic F91)

Two other twentieth century women whose personal papers – letters, diaries and notebooks – are held by the Library are Dorothy Henkel (1886-1983) and Hilda Clark (1881-1955). We have been very lucky to have these papers catalogued by two trainee archivists, who kindly wrote about their subjects for the blog here: https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2013/06/10/a-life-of-quaker-service-in-england-and-germany-from-world-war-i-to-ii-cataloguing-the-papers-of-dorothy-henkel-1886-1983/ and https://quakerstrongrooms.org/2012/07/03/world-war-i-and-its-aftermath-cataloguing-the-papers-of-hilda-clark-1881-1955/.

We hope you enjoy the blogposts – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. And look out for our Facebook page updates over the next few weeks.

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