The East End Women’s Museum – stories of women who shape our past

East End womens museum

The East End Women’s Museum is on a mission to record and celebrate the history of women in East London. The brainchild of Sara Huws (@sara_huws) and Sarah Jackson (@sajarina), the museum is a triumph of spirit and collaboration.

Support the project with your mighty heart! See ways to get involved! Sara Huws takes time out to tell you more…

The women behind the East End Women’s Museum

Sarah Jackson and I heart women’s history. I’m a public historian who has worked as a researcher and museum curator, and Sarah has co-authored a book about the East London Federation of the Suffragettes and organised the East London Suffragette Festival in 2014.

Currently a team of two, we’re working closely with organisations like Eastside Community Heritage to create the East End Women’s Museum. For example, the museum’s first exhibition – We’re Not Finished! – was about the history of women and protest in the East End.

Celebrating womens’ histories

We want to record and celebrate the histories of women in East London, especially those whose stories have been pushed to the margins. We hope to amplify lesser-heard stories – to collect them and make them accessible. We’re not seeking to represent one particular group, but overall we’d like to be relevant to people living in the East End today.

We’d love to take these stories right out into the streets of East London, to the people who are making their own history there right now. We started the project as a way to make something positive, sustainable and relevant to people living in the East End.

Curating a vital past

Our museum will serve women and girls living in East London, and our hope is we can co-curate it together.

We aim to actively include people who have been traditionally excluded from the creation of museum collections and exhibitions, especially women from traditionally marginalised or excluded groups.

While we don’t have a fixed vision of what the museum collection will be, our values are pretty fixed: we want to take an intersectional approach, and we’re aiming to bring in the voices of women who have been pushed to the margins of society, and of history. It’ll be shaped by the people of the East End and what they want, as well as the talents, time and resources we retain in our team. We have a museum brief, which works as our guide as we get things started.

East London has an incredibly rich social, political, and cultural history and women were part of all of it, although their voices are seldom heard. We wrote about a few of them here

Collaborations and shoutouts

We were really proud to be part of the East End Women’s Collective’s exhibition earlier this year, called East End Women: The Real Story. It’s great to see so many people rally behind this cause and actually do something about it!

In Her Footsteps is an amazing project currently underway, and they’re launching an East London women’s history walking app soon – we can’t wait to check it out.

We’re also inspired by the Mobile Museum, The Museum of Homelessness, and the work of countless curators working on women’s history across the UK and beyond. We definitely weren’t the first to come up with the idea of collecting women’s stories, we just hope we can play a little part in making it happen.

Future goals: community and sustainability

We’re working with Hackney Museum on an exhibition on Hackney Women for 2018, so our goal would be for the community to feel a part of putting that together, and to enjoy the exhibition once it’s on display.

As for long-term goals – we’d love to keep developing into a sustainable organisation with a long-term future. We’re doing a lot of boring paperwork to make that happen too! In our day jobs, we both working in digital media, so another aspiration would be to have a kickass web presence.

Get involved

Join our email list – that way you can keep a look out for volunteering opportunities, as well as hear about cool women’s history projects.

We’re currently looking for people to contribute women’s history to our new East End Map – you can email us via the website if you’d like to have a go at that. It doesn’t have to be a famous woman, just someone whose history you’d like to record with us. We’ve already had our first submissions and they’ve been really fantastic (e.g. the history of Jessie Lavinia Burrows). Thanks for giving us a chance to talk about our project!

Visit the East End Women’s Museum website, join their mailing list and follow them on Twitter to get the latest news about exhibitions and opportunities.