Hunt to find women who changed East London

Annie Kenney and Christabel PankhurstWe’re delighted to announce our new heritage project to find and celebrate the women who changed the face of East London over the past 150 years, helping improve the lives of thousands.

Women have long campaigned around issues such as labour conditions, racism and gender-related violence. Their efforts have seen huge successes, gaining improved rights and support that are enjoyed by women today. However their work has either never been properly recorded, or is lost in the back of dusty archives.

Now shining a spotlight on these unsung heroes by researching archives and collecting oral history interviews to create a walking tour app. The app will take users around sites of protest and activism in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, hearing the stories of the women who went before them.

Esther Freeman, project manager for Women Activists of East London, said:

“Too often women are eclipsed by their male counterparts. For example, most know William Morris was a radical socialist, whose ideas about the environment were way ahead of their time. However his wife Jane is normally described only as Rossetti’s muse and mistress. In fact she was an astute political thinker, and advocate of Irish Home Rule.

“East London has long been a hotbed of activism, yet the part women played is often sidelined. And despite the area having huge ethnic diversity, stories about women of colour are almost non-existent. Yet many of these women have been relentless in their dedication, often risking their liberty, and sometimes their lives. That deserves celebrating.”

The project is run by Share UK, a non-profit community group based in East London. It follows on from the success of their last heritage project, From Poland, which charts 150 years of Polish migration to Waltham Forest.