New Project

We are in the final few months of “Snapping the Stiletto” and would like to keep the momentum going with a second project.

Our funding has meant that we could only work with objects and images already within our partner museums. In conducting our research, we have found that BAME, LGBTQ+ and working class women’s experiences are almost completely missing from that narrative.

We would therefore like to right that wrong. We believe it is incredibly important that these women’s experiences are recorded and preserved for the future.

Can you help us secure funding by completing this short survey? And share the link as widely as possible on social media, encouraging your friends, family and neighbours to do the same?

Help still needed: a few recent challenges

Although the project has been going for nearly two years now, we are still looking for help.

photo of woman using her laptop

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

We’d really like to volunteers to add the stories of the strong Essex women they’ve uncovered to Wikipedia and have discovered that some would love to do this but would like a bit of help- could you be our Wikipedia Champion?

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There are still some research challenges if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy? Could you help us find out more about the Land Army in Chelmsford and identify the woman who wore some of the Land Army items that the Combined Military Services Museum have in their collection.

 

Crooks Reginald Josie nee Culling, Teacher UDC and Bowling

Josephine Culling

Brightlingsea Museum would like to celebrate local women in a browsing book for their new museum- can you help them find out more about local women such as Josephine Culling?

 

 

 

 

 

We have a few women ready to walk in our procession at Colchester Carnival where we’re going to be celebrating 100 years of change but we are still looking for more – along with help to create costumes and props– for example we’d really like an umbrella as modelled by Southend Suffragette Rosina Sky.

Rosina Sky

Rosina Sky protesting ‘No Vote, No tax’ after her goods were seized.

 

If you are short of time you can still sign up to help us spread the work via Social Media– or why not visit the exhibition now it’s at the Beecroft Art Gallery in Southend and write a blog for us about your visit?

Needles, Threads & Fancy Dress

Snapping the Stiletto has an opportunity to take part in Colchester Carnival this September.

To help us celebrate 100 years of change we’re looking for volunteers to dress as women from each decade of those 100 years (as well as volunteers to make the costumes).

Are you skilled with a sewing machine and able to help? Click here for more information about our costume-making challenge.

Or if you like dressing up and fancy being in the carnival procession on Saturday 14th September, click here to volunteer.

Volunteering- Essex celebrates Essex Women!

I’m sure everyone running projects like ours says at some point ’we couldn’t have done this without our volunteers’- in this case it is so true! This week we are joining the the celebrations for National Volunteers’ Week to say a big Thank You to our volunteers

Five of the volunteers

Some of the many volunteers who made the Festival happen

 

The Festival in March could only happen because people volunteered to speak, brought stands and activities and acted as stewards. Thanks also to the great student volunteers who joined us for that day. Without volunteers we couldn’t have spent the day celebrating #StrongEssexWomen

 

 

The travelling exhibition

Snapping the Stiletto traveling exhibition at Epping Forest District Museum

The stories told in our travelling exhibition were researched by volunteers across Essex who uncovered photographs, dug around in museum archives, hunted out newspaper clippings, tracked family records, visited record offices and helped transcribe oral histories and notebooks. The exhibition itself was created by volunteers who took the time to come along to training to help with this and then put this training in action by writing the panels you can see at some of our partner museums.

In the last two weeks we have managed to get a stand out at events and spoken to nearly 400 people – this wouldn’t have happened without Jo and Lily- so thank you! Jo and Yvonne will be at the Planet Essex Festival at Cressing Temple Barns on June 22nd– come along and chat to them.

Lily and Jo running our stand at the Seaside Revival day in Clacton

We also have a large group of volunteers who regularly spend a few minutes online sharing stories and news about the project and our partner museums. Every minute counts and we estimate that this team of social media champions have contributed 28 hours to the project and helped us spread news and stories much more widely than we could have without them.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @snapthestiletto

Have a look at the variety of volunteer challenges still live – even if you can only spare us a few minutes every contribution is valuable and valued

So far, we have been helped and supported by more than 200 volunteers and we are proud to be able to say that the success of this project is largely due to the people of Essex joining us to celebrate the amazing achievements of Essex women over the last 100 years.

Marvel-ous Heroes: Fictional Essex Women

Avengers Endgame was released at midnight. What has that got to do with a women’s history project in Essex you ask? Well, did you know that there are two female superheroes whose biographies list their birthplace as towns in our county? In today’s post, we examine how these fictional characters have been inspired by and reflect the diversity and personalities of the real women of Essex.

 

 

psylocke-1129798

Image copyright of Marvel Entertainment

Psylocke 

 

Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock was originally created in 1976 as a supporting character, the twin sister of Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain. According to the comics, the twins were born in Maldon, the younger children of Sir James Braddock (their older brother Jamie is a Marvel villain).

Betsy is a Charter Pilot who develops psychic powers including visions of the future, telepathy and telekinesis. She briefly served in her brother’s role as Captain Britain, before taking the name Psylocke and joining the X-Men.

Betsy/Psylocke, while fictional, is definitely a Strong Essex Woman. With over 40 years of plot-lines, she obviously has been through a lot, including having her mind placed in the body of a Japanese warrior, dying and coming back to life, modeling and helping teach a new generation of heroes at a school for mutants, she has continued to fight (mostly) on the side of good against the baddies in the Marvel universe.

 

faiza

Image copyright Marvel Entertainment

Excalibur

Doctor Faiza Hussain is a much more recent addition to the “Marvel Universe”. Created in 2008 by Paul Cornell to be a main character for the series “Captain Britain and MI13“, she is a doctor, born in Chelmsford and a big fan of cricket. Her parents are from Pakistan and she is Muslim.

In the comics, Faiza is performing emergency triage on a battlefield when an energy-bolt gives her an extreme level of control over biological organisms. According to Cornell, she can “safely open up a body, see what’s wrong with it, and sort it out on a subatomic level” – useful skills for a doctor.

Faiza joins a team of heroes led by Captain Britain, and wields the mystical sword of legend, Excalibur.

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Image copyright Marvel Entertainment

We spoke to Paul Cornell about creating Faiza, and he said:

“I wanted to make a British muslim woman super hero, and for her to be not ‘the other’ but the point of view character, the down to earth one.  I’d lived in Chelmsford, and I liked the double take of the Essex coat of arms looking vaguely Islamic, but also being very British. In that the swords look like scimitars, all very cliched Arabian Nights.  So use that as a super hero insignia, and it brings all her meanings together.  I asked a group of Muslim women to advise me on her, and they did for the whole run”. 

Cornell worked with this group to ensure that Faiza was a realistic representation of someone whose cultural background is very different to his own, that he respected the character’s Muslim faith but conveyed that this was only part of who she is. The result is a character that many Essex women can relate to. She is a hardworking, intelligent and complex. Cornell told us:

“I gave her Excalibur as a sign of archetypal British identity, of absolute mystical acceptance of her”. 

 

Sadly, neither Betsy Braddock or Faiza Hussain feature in the new Avengers film, however Betsy/Psylocke was portrayed by Olivia Munn in X-Men Apocalypse, and is briefly glimpsed as a child in Wolverine Origins.

Faiza/Excalibur, the superhero doctor from Chelmsford, has yet to be seen on screen. Maybe we can convince Marvel make her the star of her own film?

Getting out there

We are delighted with the feedback we’ve had from the first ‘stop’ of the travelling exhibition. Next stop is the Museum of power – you can find details here 

The travelling exhibition

Snapping the Stiletto traveling exhibition at Epping Forest District Museum

Now we want to get the stories of these amazing Essex Women out to more people, so we’ve been looking for events, festivals and other places to have a stand.

Our first excursion is to the seaside!

Resorting to the coast website

We’ll be at Resorting to the Coast’s Seaside Revival Day in Clacton on May 26th This looks great fun but hopefully people will have time to fit in a visit to us on the Greensward.

 

 

 

The next trip out will be to Cressing Temple Barns for their Planet Essex Festival on June 22nd

Grace Chappelow campaigning

This event is a celebration of everything environmentally friendly, sustainable and local and will include a diverse range of talks, demonstrations and workshops- we’ll be there celebrating local women including suffragette Grace Chappelow.

Later in the year we’ll be at High Chelmer shopping centre chatting to shoppers (September 19th and 20th ) and we’re looking for other Essex venues and events. If you are running an event and would like us there do get in touch (pippa.smith@essex.gov.uk) and we may be able to p bring a stand, send you information to display or provide a display board with information about women local to you if they have featured in the project.

As we’re a small team this project has relied very heavily on volunteers and we’re asking for help again. If you’d like to come and help us at these events have a look at our festival and events challenge on Volunteer Makers and sign up. It will be a great way to help us spread the word that Essex women are amazing!

 

It Isn’t Over…

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North East Essex Girl Guiding at the Snapping the Stiletto: Essex Women’s History Festival

Today marks the end of Women’s History Month for 2019. Our festival took place earlier in the month, we ran two guided tours of Colchester and our touring exhibition in the process of moving from Epping Forest District Museum to the Museum of Power.

You would be forgiven for thinking that Snapping the Stiletto is winding down. In fact, we’re really excited about our remaining months’ work.

New opportunities for researching local women’s history with our museums continue to come up, and current opportunities can be found here. We have just launched our “Wikipedian” opportunities and have already received some great responses.

Our project manager, Pippa Smith, is in the process of arranging events and “pop up” displays to help share all of the exciting opportunities we’ve uncovered and we’ll post details here as soon as possible.

Great things are coming, so please do by sign up to our newsletter or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram to stay in the loop.

This project has been very much steered and delivered by the people of Essex, who have advised us in shaping the programme, done the research, written the exhibition and helped with our events. We are incredibly grateful to all of you.

We were therefore delighted to receive these two poems, written by attendees of poet-in-residence Elelia Ferro’s session at our Snapping the Stiletto: Essex Women’s History Festival. The first is by Wendy Constance, and the second is by Juliet Townsend, Chairwoman of the Essex Women’s Advisory Group.

 

Unpaid work                            Unjust disparity                       Undermined lives

Hidden women

Cruel anti-suffrage                 Fearless campaigning                         Women’s rights

Hidden stories

Printed propaganda                Seditious stitches                    Dangerous coats

Hidden pockets

 

A new century arrived

under fresh skies

women gathered, raised awareness

inspired each other to

seek liberation – but

injustices continue

still much to do

 

Women’s resilience                Shared stories                         Snapped stilettos

Voices heard

Wendy Constance 2019

 

 

Folk devil                               Dumb blonde                                    Reject reclaim                                                                                    Rock bitch                                                                                         Bereaved mothers               Brave stance                                      Subtleprose

Pacifist

In a progressive place                                                                                                                                    progressive women

meet and talk,                                                                                                                                                   storytelling lights                                                                                                                                                 new ideas

Blood red                             Think hard                         Share tales

Free the period

 Juliet Townsend 2019