The women’s history project has been absolutely brilliant in opening our eyes to such a significant (but mainly unspoken) part of our country’s (and the world’s) history.
Our perceptions on the role of women in history is primarily based on stereotypes and uneducated inferences that women have been merely passive witnesses in the building of our current society, and it was only men who really made any impact.
A lot of us aim to excuse this by relying on the idea that women had limited opportunity.
However, the project has taught us that although this is partly true, women did a lot more than we first assumed.
These false assumptions can be argued to be a result of how women are represented on the curriculum, with us knowing lots about influential kings, prime ministers, archbishops, male scientists and authors etc. but little about not only influential women as individuals (e.g. Mary Seacole, Marie Curie etc.), but of the gender as a whole.
We were extremely surprised to learn of the Georgian political protesters, as the only thing we are taught about the role of women in politics is the movement of women’s suffrage in the early 1900s, and even then this topic is separated and highlighted as an exception and is only about their fight for equality, not the influence they have had throughout history and how they helped shape society into what it is today.
Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (Artist: White Studio c. 1903, gelatin silver print, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)
Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (1846-1911), a.k.a Carry A. Nation, “The Lady with the Hatchet”
Though Prohibition is synonymous with the Roaring Twenties, the political movement that spawned it took nearly 100 years to catch on in the U.S.
Throughout the 19th century, the Temperance Movement spread across the country, using religious invective and the fear of social unrest to advocate for the abolition of alcohol.
Organizations like the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Prohibition Party, and the Anti-Saloon League ran grassroots campaigns, sending their most outspoken members on tours around the country to distribute pamphlets and stir up support for the cause.
The anti-alcohol movement’s greatest soldier was Carrie Nation, a 175-pound, six-foot-tall self-described “bulldog” of a woman who spent over a decade terrorizing bars across the country in the name of God.
In 1900, after a series of what she believed to be visions and divine messages to take up the temperance message, Nation upped the stakes, from singing hymns in protest outside local bars with her fellow WCTU members in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, to using brute force, first throwing bricks and finally settling on her weapon of choice: the hatchet, which she used to smash up wooden bars and break liquor bottles.
By the end of her run 10 years later, she’d become so synonymous with the weapon that followers could buy souvenir hatchets of their own and subscribe to her monthly magazine, The Hatchet.
The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times and Legacy of Joe Hill.
by William M. Adler
This is the new, definitive, well-illustrated biography of Joe Hill, legendary American songwriter and labor hero, with explosive new evidence pointing to his innocence of the crime for which he was executed nearly a century ago.
In 1914, Joe Hill was convicted of murder in Utah and sentenced to death by firing squad, igniting international controversy.
Many believed Hill was innocent, condemned for his association with the Industrial Workers of the World — the radical Wobblies.
Now, following four years of intensive investigation, William M. Adler gives us the first full-scale biography of Joe Hill, and presents never before published documentary evidence that comes as close as one can to definitively exonerating him.
Joe Hill’s gripping tale is set against a brief but electrifying moment in American history, between the century’s turn and World War I, when the call for industrial unionism struck a deep chord among disenfranchised workers; when class warfare raged and capitalism was on the run.
Hill was the union’s preeminent songwriter, and in death, he became organized labor’s most venerated martyr, celebrated by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, and immortalized in the ballad “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.”
The Man Who Never Died does justice to Joe Hill’s extraordinary life and its controversial end. Drawing on extensive new evidence, Adler deconstructs the case against his subject and argues convincingly for the guilt of another man.
It reads like a murder mystery set against the background of the raw, turn-of-the-century West.
Protesters march in support of McDonald’s strikers in London, September 2017. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images.
by Suzanne Moore,
Fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s depend on the youth and cheeriness of their staff to sell that buzzy “Mickey D’s” product.
It is no surprise, then, to see that same youth and energy in the workers who are on strike in restaurants in Cambridge and Crayford, south-east London (McDonald’s argues that the strikers represent 0.01% of its UK workforce).
Their demands are minimal: £10 an hour, Union Rights and an end to Zero-Hours contracts. They have, most of them, never had a working life where they were treated decently.
To rise up like this, to risk losing their jobs, is admirable. No wonder they have garnered so much support. I hope a boycott of the company follows.
This is so clearly a David and Goliath situation: an intensely rich global company on one side with some teenagers earning less than a fiver an hour on the other. It is billionaires against students who are trying to organise a life around random shifts, who have difficulty organising medical appointments or a tutorial because they don’t know far enough in advance when they are working.
This strike may be small, but it is highly significant. It is about wages, but something else too.
It brings home just how callously young people can be treated. In the abstract, zero-hours contracts promise flexibility and of course this is what McDonald’s bosses are arguing, but in reality this constant insecurity – Have I upset the manager? If I go on holiday, will I return to the same shift pattern? What I am going to live on? – makes having an autonomous life difficult.
In August 1918 women working on the underground voted to come out on unofficial strike over a claim for parity with men on a war bonus payment that they had been denied.
The strike, which mainly affected the Bakerloo line, did make some gains for the women.
The background to these important events was the introduction of women onto London´s transport system after the mobilization of men led to a vast reduction of staff across the industry.
For example, Maida Vale underground station was opened in June 1915 and was staffed entirely by women. The London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) began to employ women in 1916 and it was estimated that in 1919 that 5,551 women had been employed on the underground during the war.
Women were employed as ticket collectors, lift attendants, porters and, from 1917, as station guards, guards and ´gatewomen´ on trains who opened and closed the gates before electro-pneumatic operation was introduced (there were normally three gatemen on each six-car train plus two guards).
Women were to be found on the District Railway, the Metropolitan, and the UERL tubes; the Metropolitan alone having 522 female staff by 1918.
Whilst some railway companies appeared to be horrified by the employment of women, Lord Aberconway, director of the Metropolitan, argued ´lady´ ticket collectors did better than their male counterparts.
Initially, women were excluded from becoming guards and the death of Alice Dixon, a porter at Holland Park tube station in 1915, seemed to offer support to those who believed women were not responsible enough to work on board trains.
Dixon rode on the step-board of a train as it moved off from the platform and was pulled along by her skirt that became entangled. She died of her injuries. The London Electric was the first company to employ women as gatewomen in 1916.
Guards were required to give a starting signal to the driver and then board the train and the London Electric claimed that this was too dangerous for a woman.
The immediate spur for the industrial action was the 6-day strike by over 15,000 bus and tram workers earlier in August 1918. They had come out for the 5/- war bonus paid to men and were supported by the London & Provincial Union of Licensed Vehicle Workers.
The strike was successful in gaining a full back-dated increase for the women. Other towns had also been affected: Bath, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Folkestone, Hastings, Hove and Weston-Super-Mare were all hit.
A year before, the war bonus had been consolidated into the basic rate and renamed the ´war wage´, creating even more anger amongst railwaywomen as it merely increased the disparity between men´s and women´s pay through overtime payments.
Five hundred women met at King´s Cross in February 1918 and discussed possible strike action, calling on the NUR to reopen negotiations on the issue.
A number of NUR branches supported the call for equal pay whilst others fought against any improvement for women that might keep them in the industry after the war. Jimmy Thomas, the NUR leader, simply sold out the women.