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Breaking the Mould

You are invited to an informal end of project meet up - cake and coffee - to connect with the other change makers identified in the project at 3pm on Tues 31st May at  WEA Scotland 17 Gayfield Square; that’s also an opportunity to connect with members of the Women's Forum, should you wish to find out more about the women featured in the previous Breaking The Mould project.

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Breaking the Mould: Edinburgh
Researching and Celebrating 100 years of Women’s History in Social and Political Activism since the beginning of WWI

The achievements of many Edinburgh women are well known to us. Women such as Helen Crummy, who was instrumental in founding the Craigmillar Festival Society in 1962, have been celebrated with honours and memorials, most recently with her statue in Craigmillar. The work of Helen and those who worked alongside her left a legacy of opportunities in creative endeavour and enjoyment in music, drama and art to generations of people. One of her three sons, Andrew Crummy, carries on her vision with his involvement in community artwork in the towns of Cockenzie, Port Seton and Prestonpans and more widely. He is currently the artist for the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, which has been stitched by hundreds of people in 35 countries, creating a global community.














Helen Crummy Statue at Craigmillar Library, Niddrie Mains Road
Photograph Margaret Ferguson Burns


In Edinburgh, the WEA Lothian Women's Forum has taken the lead in forming a new group of history enthusiasts, seeking stories of women and women’s groups in Edinburgh who have contributed to social and political activism since the beginning of WWI, to feature in a book to be published in 2015. We want to feature not only the better-known women, maybe Elsie Inglis and Chrystal McMillan, but also some who are nearly forgotten but deserve to be remembered or those whose story has never been told - and could inspire us today.


So far, we've held two evening workshops to identify themes of interest and had a private visit to the National Library of Scotland to hear about a range of their relevant resources. We're now setting up a series of further workshops in the autumn, exploring our themes in more depth and supporting individuals (or pairs, small groups etc) in their particular study projects. By next autumn we will have an Edinburgh Women’s publication, highlighting and celebrating women in political and community life in Edinburgh, identified through the group's research.


There have been previous, groundbreaking studies of women’s history resulting in Women's History Trails (and Graveyard Trails) for Edinburgh, but many date back 20 years and we feel it's time for a fresh look. The intention is to create an interactive, accessible and inclusive piece of work, initially in print, to be developed online with an online trail to include women and groups investigated in this and previous projects.


We've already identified many of the themes and some individuals we want to be featured in the publication and online and set some parameters for inclusion. This is a different way of starting the process from some previous projects. We won't be tied to existing memorials, gravestones etc but will set out to find individuals to illustrate the many aspects of changes in women's lives since the beginning of WWI. For example, the group members want to investigate and illustrate: women in politics and campaigning; trade unions, the Co-operative Women's Guild; women's activism at the Adult Learning Project; health professions, fertility, childbirth; domestic abuse; the contribution of ethnic minority women in Edinburgh; faith groups; housing; wartime; artists and writers; education; family life and marriage; working life.

By getting the word out to the widest networks we can, using social media and approaching our own contacts, we hope that notable women who might not otherwise have come to our attention, will emerge from these themes. The interest has been excellent. This also benefits the future of the Women's Forum, who will be delighted to encourage new members and share the remarkable history work they have already achieved in past years.


The group is very keen to keep in touch with one another over the summer through the Women's Forum site.

Facebook page

Twitter @BTMedin

 For further enquiries on the Edinburgh Breaking the Mould group and plans for the production of a women's publication

Contact: Janette Bond
               Tel: 0131 225 2580


As part of the project Helen Clark was interviewed about her social and oral history research. The interview can be viewed below:

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