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4:56 PM 5th March 2021
lifestyle

Making Invisible Women Visible

Herstory.York partners with York Museums Trust to highlight women’s lives whose stories have not been sufficiently told

The many women who have inspired and effected change throughout York’s history will be the focus of new partnership between York Museums Trust and the community history project Herstory.York (HSY).

The partnership, announced ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, will see the Trust work closely with HSY, delving deep into the Trust’s collections, to uncover fascinating stories from local women who have been historically obscured or ignored.

These will initially be told through the HSY website (herstoryyork.org.uk) which the Trust will manage, but future projects are already being planned, including a women’s history placement programme.

Philip Newton, Community Engagement Researcher at York Museums Trust said:
“This is a new long term relationship for York Museums Trust and we are excited to work together on raising awareness of the impact women have made on the city, as well as uncovering stories in our own collection. The 100 women is an amazing resource not just for us, but for the whole city and this partnership will allow us to continue this fantastic work.”

In 2018, inspired by the centenary of (some) women getting the vote, Kate Hignett, a Legal Aid Lawyer living in York, had the idea to hold a York Women’s Conference in 2018 on progress towards gender equality. During planning for the Conference, she was dismayed to discover how few women appear in history books about York compared to men (about nine men to one woman), Kate had the idea of a community history project to research and celebrate ‘invisible’ women. Asking for volunteers, HSY was born, and the first event was run as part of York International Women’s Week in March 2018.

Kate Hignett, Founder, HSY, said:
“The history of York is full of fascinating tales, but far too often it is focused on stories about men, told by men. It’s His Story. We are delighted to be working in partnership with YMT to tell more stories about the other 51% of the population; women who have helped change York for the better!”

HSY was founded in 2018 after it became apparent how few women appear in York’s history books compared to men. A community history project was launched to research and celebrate 100 ‘invisible’ women active in York during 1918 to 2018 – this has been a project focused on women, by women and for women. As HSY’s project comes to an end, they have partnered with York Museums Trust to maintain the findings of their important research and to continue uncovering stories of York women.


From April 2021 the women’s history placement programme will begin with students from the University of York, who will work together to identify and research important women in York’s history. Findings from this study will be shared with the city early next year.

It is the Trust’s ambition that the partnership will further highlight the need for greater inclusion of women, not only in heritage but in the wider community of York. Philip said: “We welcome continued efforts to lobby for larger representation and recognition of important female figures, such as inclusion in new street names and historic blue plaques.”

To find out more about HSY, visit: herstoryyork.org.uk.