Education, College Women and Suffrage: International Perspectives Conference 13-14 June 2018

Wellesley group in Suffrage parade in Philadelphia ,1915
Suffrage Parade (© Trustees for Wellesley College). Students march for suffrage in Philadelphia (1915),  College Women Open Access Portal: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education

Calling all Researchers, Lecturers, School Teachers, Archivists, Curators, and Heritage Professionals with interests in education and suffrage!  As a result of generous funding from the History of Education Society, we have extended our Call For Papers deadline and are now able to offer student bursaries (see below for details).  We are also currently exploring options to help support individual or group presentations by Teachers.  So do get get writing and send your proposals to Conference Administrator  Alexandra.Hughes-Johnson.2013@live.rhul.ac.uk by Monday 27th November.  Our conference website will be going live very soon, but if you have any questions or concerns please contact Alex, or Bedford Centre co-Director Nicola Phillips, we are happy to help.

We are also delighted to announce that our Keynote Speakers will be:

Eric Pumroy, Director of Special Collections & the Albert M. Greenfield Digital Centre for the History Of Women’s Education (Bryn Mawr, USA) and former Director Jennifer Redmond, (Maynooth University, Ireland) who will speak about education, suffrage and their work on the Seven Sisters’ College Women: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education portal.

Kay Whitehead, Professor of Education, (Flinders University, Australia) who will give a presentation on transnational teacher education and suffrage in Australia and Britain.

As part of  a Royal Holloway college wide series of events to commemorate suffrage at Royal Holloway in 2018, the Bedford Centre for the History of Women  teamed up with Winchester’s Centre for the History of Women’s Education to organise this international, interdisciplinary conference exploring the links between education and suffrage campaigns and the roles of college women in them.  The idea grew out of the Bedford Centre’s new project to digitise Bedford and Royal Holloway college student archive documents relating to suffrage (so watch this space for more about this fascinating new material!), which will be launched at the conference. Which is why we also want to highlight the existence and educational uses of similar material, textual and digital collections around the world.

We are running the conference over 13-14th June to commemorate the funeral of Royal Holloway Alumna Emily Wilding Davison after whom our stunning new library, which opened this month has been named.  Fellow RHUL alumnae attended her funeral procession, including Rose Lamartine Yates who was the first guard of honour to Emily Wilding Davison’s coffin.  She is pictured below, having tea with friends in her college room.

Rose Lamartine Yates in Study

Rose Lamartine Yates (bottom left) with friends in her study at Royal Holloway c. 1900.    RHC PH/271/3  [Copyright Royal Holloway Archives]

CALL FOR PAPERS

Pioneers of women’s higher or further education in different countries both supported and distanced themselves from contemporary suffrage campaigns for a range of reasons. Women who had benefitted from a college education that had introduced them to ideas of equality, democracy and citizenship also joined both sides of the suffrage debate as evidenced in letters, diaries, newspaper reports and other ephemera. The debates took place within nations and on the international stage, and college women travelled extensively in their private and professional lives exchanging views through their correspondence and in their memories.

The conference will provide a forum for those involved in teaching and researching suffrage and the history of women’s education (in schools, HE and heritage institutions) to discuss new directions. We invite submissions in a range of formats by archivists, public historians, researchers, curators and teachers to explore and discuss the under-researched links between education and suffrage.  Presentations may draw on a range of sources as they relate to the intersection of education and suffrage, including the use and interpretation of digital archives and material sources for research or educational purposes.

Proposals of c. 300 words are welcome for 10 or 20 minute individual presentations, or for workshops, panels, symposia, or posters on the themes of (but not limited to):

Histories
College Women’s engagement with suffrage or anti-suffrage
Institutional attitudes and responses to suffrage
Alumnae networks, Associations and suffrage
College Women’s inter/trans-national suffrage connections

Heritage
Oral histories of education and suffrage
School and College magazines
Public Histories of suffrage and education
Educational archives and suffrage
Memorialising suffrage and college heritage

Teaching and Learning
Citizenship, Education and Suffrage
Education and Suffrage in film, music, drama and fiction
Using and accessing digital archives of education and suffrage
Teaching suffrage beyond national boundaries
Creating innovative suffrage resources & activities

Student Bursaries:  To apply please send your 300 wd proposal, plus a 1 page CV and supporting letter from your Supervisor or Lecturer.

The conference organisers very much look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to Royal Holloway’s historic campus,

Dr Nicola Phillips and Dr Alex Windscheffel (Royal Holloway, University of London), Prof. Stephanie Spencer and Prof Joyce Goodman (University of Winchester)

 

 

 

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Commemorating Sarah Parker Remond: Pioneering abolitionist and anti-racism campaigner

by Nicola Raimes and Nicola Phillips

Commemorative plaque to Sarah Parker Remond in Rome [Image: Marilyn Richardson]

Commemorative plaque to Sarah Parker Remond in Rome [Image: Marilyn Richardson, Sarah Parker Remond: a Daughter of Salem]

Last month Royal Holloway launched the Women Inspire campaign and one of our most inspiring alumna from Bedford College (the first Higher Education College for women which opened in 1849) was Sarah Parker Remond (1824-1894). She was an African-American anti-slavery campaigner with a passion for education and equality who spoke to huge crowds all over Britain and practiced medicine in Italy. Remond is frequently commemorated online in America and a plaque has been erected in Rome where she died. In 1861 The English Woman’s Journal included an autobiographical article in their ‘Lives of Distinguished Women’ feature but as yet there is nothing material to commemorate her achievements here in the UK where she became a naturalized citizen in 1865.

Sarah Parker Remond [Image: WikiCommons]

Sarah Parker Remond [Image: WikiCommons]

Remond grew up a free Black woman in Salem, Massachusetts, where her brother Charles Lennox Remond was also a prominent slavery abolitionist. By 1857 Remond had been appointed as a travelling lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society. An impassioned and accomplished speaker – she was just sixteen when she made her first anti-slavery speech – Remond came to Britain to spread the abolitionist message in January 1859.

As well as wanting to serve the anti-slavery cause here, Remond also sought freedom from discrimination in racially segregated America. She was equally determined to pursue the further education denied to her in America as a Black woman. Over the next two years she combined an extensive lecture tour of the British Isles with her studies at Bedford College because:

“My strongest desire through life has been to be educated. I found the most exquisite pleasure in reading and as we had no library, I read every book which came in my way, and I longed for more. Again and again mother would endeavor to have us placed in some private school, but being colored we were refused.”
‘A Colored Lady Lecturer’, The English Woman’s Journal (June 1861)

A number of Black American abolitionists came to Britain in the 1850s and 1860s, but Remond’s contribution stands apart for several reasons. Most notably, she was the first woman in her own right to address the question of slavery before mass audiences here. In contrast to the fugitive slave Ellen Craft who appeared before audiences but did not speak, Remond challenged the prevailing notion of Black women as helpless victims. Here was a free Black woman whose calm, forceful delivery belied the often emotive appeals she made to white women on behalf of suffering female slaves, and was able to cut across the partisan divisions that plagued the British anti-slavery movement at that time.

Women were integral to the development of a transatlantic anti-slavery movement from the late 1830s and it was through this network that Sarah Parker Remond met Elizabeth Jesser Reid, philanthropist, founder of Bedford College and keen opponent of slavery. In October 1859 Remond enrolled at Bedford College and boarded with Jesser Reid at her home in nearby Grenville Street.

Thought to have been the first Black student at the College, Remond studied a range of subjects, including arithmetic, ancient history and Latin. However, by the third term she had enrolled in far fewer classes and an addendum to Remond’s College records hints at the challenges she might have been facing both as a mature student and as a touring anti-slavery speaker:

“These classes were found to be quite unsuitable owing to the peculiar circumstances and age of the student.”

Register of Student Courses BC AR/202/1/1

Entry for Sarah Parker Remond in Bedford College Student Register, (1849-1870). Ref: BCAR 201/1/1 [Image: Nicola Raimes]

Entry for Sarah Parker Remond in Bedford College Student Register, (1849-1870). Ref: BCAR 201/1/1
[Image: Nicola Raimes]

During 1861, following the outbreak of the Civil War, Remond urged Britain to oppose the Confederacy and to use cotton from India, rather than slave-produced imports from America. She supported the American antislavery press and was active in the Ladies’ London Emancipation Society founded by her friend and women’s rights activist Clementia Taylor.

In the aftermath of the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion Remond wrote to the London Daily News expressing her outrage at the treatment of Black Jamaicans by British troops, and citing a change for the worse in British attitudes towards Black people. It has been suggested that Remond was so disappointed by this change that she left Britain to make a new life in Italy. However, Remond’s application for British naturalization offers an alternative explanation. These documents demonstrate both her wish to settle permanently in Britain and her intention to visit Italy temporarily.

We can only speculate about Remond’s subsequent decision to settle permanently in Italy, rather than in Britain. She already had contacts there through her friendship with the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini and her support for the unification movement. Perhaps the opportunity to study medicine was a factor. Remond qualified as a doctor in Florence in 1868.

Following her death in 1894, Remond was buried in the Protestant cemetery in Rome where a plaque in her memory was installed in 2013. Remond stayed with Clementia Taylor at Aubrey House, London, where a plaque naming Taylor and other radicals who associated there has been erected but Remond is not listed among them. We are currently discussing ideas about how best to commemorate Remond’s remarkable contribution to anti-slavery and anti-racism in Great Britain, and her lifelong battle to gain an education. If you have any suggestions please do contact us.

Nicola Raimes is an MA Public History graduate from Royal Holloway and producer of a series of podcasts about women and slavery for Historic England. She was interviewed for the article in The Independent, ‘Slavery: How Women’s Key Role in Abolition has yet to receive the attention it deserves’.

Nicola Phillips is the lead editor for this Blog and Co-Directs the MA in Public History and The Bedford Centre for the History of Women at Royal Holloway.