At the beginning of last year, I took part in a fascinating women’s history tour of Edinburgh, led by the brilliant Ruth Boreham. We learned about some of Edinburgh’s women - medics like Elsie Inglis, Sophia Jex-Blake, James Barry, writers like Susan Ferrier and Mary Brunton, as well as educators, suffragettes, entrepreneurs. On the train home to Linlithgow afterwards, I got to wondering about the women who’d been part of the history of our town. We all know Linlithgow as birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, but what about the lives of the ordinary women who’ve lived, worked and died here? What might we learn from their stories, and how might they have influenced the lives we live today?
These things tend - in my experience - to grow arms and legs, and before long we had a Facebook group of 200 people interested in knowing about ‘More than Mary’, the lives of Linlithgow’s more ‘ordinary’ women, and in doing so collectively, with a focus on participatory, inclusive, collaborative research. For our first project, we decided to delve into the experiences of the women who worked at Linlithgow’s munitions factory during WW1 and WW2, and this week I delivered a talk to Linlithgow Civic Trust on our findings.
This has been a real labour of love, and it was so exciting to see the room absolutely packed. We had lots of thoughtful conversation afterwards, with thoughts for a more permanent memorial in Linlithgow for the women who served their country with courage and sacrifice.
The full talk (with photos and some references / links for further reading) can be downloaded below. It's a large file, so you may find it easier to access via this Google docs link.