Sheffield women encouraged to share their protest stories as part of new exhibition

Women have been standing up and campaigning for 100 years, and now female activists are being sought to share their stories.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 15 January, 2019, 14:42
Anti-nuclear demonstration on Shude Hill car park Sheffield, December 18, 1981.

Researchers are calling on women from Sheffield who have been involved in protests in their lifetime to contribute to a new university study.

'˜Remembering Resistance: A Century of Women's Protest in the North of England' is a new project from Lancaster University that aims to bring the history of women's activism to life.

Barnsley suffragettes campaigning in 1910. Picture credit: LSE Library

Dr Sarah Marsden, a lecturer in Protest in a Digital Age at Lancaster University, said there is a long history of women's activism in the north of England, and there are particularly strong connections in Sheffield so she is keen for as many women from the city to get involved as possible.

She said: 'We are looking for women who have fought for political change and who are willing to tell their stories. We're interested in all kinds of activism, so if you've spent time campaigning or protesting over recent decades in the North of England, we want to hear from you.

'It doesn't matter how small or insignificant you feel your memories are, we are interested so please get in touch. Everything counts.

'Contemporary protest movements, such as #metoo, Time's Up, and the Women's Marches demonstrate that women continue to mobilise for political change.

Suffragettes.

'Yet women are often overlooked in the history of protest and political activism. Capturing this aspect of our heritage is therefore vital.

'Without a record of women's activism, the history of women's involvement in protest will be lost. Since 1918, many of the women involved in activism have died, and their stories will never be part of recorded history.

'It is really important that we capture the memories and experiences of those still able to share them, and collate existing records, so they can be preserved for future generations.

'We want to inspire people to connect with their community's experience of protest and motivate, in particular, young people to learn about their own area's history of protest.'

Health workers protest march down Spital Hill, Sheffield - 14th March 1988

Women who would like to help with the project but do not have any stories of their own to share can still get involved.

Dr Marsden added: 'We're looking for volunteers to help gather information and collect inspirational stories about women who have fought for political change, and also assist with community events across the area including in Sheffield.

'We want to ensure that the memories of women activists aren't lost and that women's role in political protest is heard.

'One of the central aspects of the project involves working with volunteer citizen researchers who are based in the communities where we are collecting women's stories.

Library protest in September 1984

'As part of this, we're really keen to encourage women to interview other women '“ whether that's within families, or within communities '“ so the stories of women's involvement in protest are passed along and are able to inspire the next generation.' 

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, '˜Remembering Resistance' is inspired by the centenary of the Representation of the People's Act, the law that gave all men and some women the right to vote which was celebrated last year.

Sheffield has strong connections to those who fought for this right, with the first woman's suffrage organisation in England being founded in the city in 1851.

'˜Remembering Resistance' will develop a rich picture of when, where, and why women have fought for change and identify the ten most significant sites of women's resistance in the North.

The project will celebrate, catalogue, and engage the public in women's efforts to bring about political change by creating a permanent archive of women's activism which it is hoped will  inspire future generations.

Working with citizen researchers, members of the '˜Remembering Resistance' project team will map the last century of protest by charting the routes that protests took, and the strategies protesters used, as well as collating artefacts associated with protest movements.

Brookhouse and Fence Womens Support Group pictured during the Miners Strike on March 6, 1985

Dr Marsden and her colleague and fellow project worker Dr Chris Boyko, a lecturer in Design at Lancaster University,  are planning a programme of public engagement events and activities to record this aspect of heritage.

The outcome of the project will be integrated into the archives of local museums across the country, and will contribute to their programmes on the struggle for women's suffrage.

To learn more about the project, including how to become a volunteer or an interviewee, please visit the website at www.rememberingresistance.com, follow the project on Twitter @rememberresist or email the team at rememberingresistance@gmail.com.