Electrical Women

This post focuses on Margaret Fuller, the 19th century Transcendental and feminist philosopher and a key figure in my medical history research. Fuller was born Sarah Margaret Fuller on 23rd May 1810 in Massachusetts, America. She is credited as being the first woman to review and edit American journalism and her monumental text Woman in the Nineteenth Century is claimed to be the first feminist work in America. Fuller died in 1850 after drowning from a ship wreck near New York. Elements surrounding her death, namely the foreshadowing of her own demise and transcendental responses to her death are topics to discuss in the future.

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Free flying of the mind: The Lorina Bulwer scroll

“I MISS LORINA BULWER AM A TRUE LOYAL PERSON….I MISS LORINA BULWER AM FREE.”

In this post I discuss the interesting, yet emotional, life and story of Lorina Bulwer, an inmate at the Great Yarmouth Workhouse. On arrival to the workhouse, Lorina was confined to the lunatic ward. She expressed her thoughts and feelings by stitching long monologues of capitalised words which are often considered as rambles, rants and in some cases, powerful nonsense. There are currently three known surviving “Lorina” samplers in Britain. I refer to Lorina by her first name in this post as her embroidered texts depict  a clear personality and a particular level of familiarity and modern day relevance.

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The Yorkshire Witch’s everlasting spell

Studies of witchcraft often centre on groups of witches or spirits, the Salem witch trials, the Pendle and Samlesbury witches or even the Loudun possessions in 17th century France. Persecution and superstition of witchcraft began to fade towards the end of the 18th century, yet the concept of spirits and possession which were often associated with witchcraft began to be overruled by notions of deviation, criminality and manipulation. One example of individual witchcraft is the extraordinary life of the “Yorkshire Witch”, the creator of “The Prophet of Leeds Hen Hoax”, the serial thief and convicted murderer of Rebecca Perigo.

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Women In Science: Madame Caplin’s Reformed Corset

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19th Century S&S Corset (Registered in Belgium) Image Courtesy of York Museums Trust

I have various historical interests and for my MA dissertation I decided to integrate my different interests and academic skills – focusing on the medical effects of dress reform and also putting a philosophical spin on it! The focus of my dissertation was the life and work of Madame Roxey Ann Caplin, a Canadian born writer and corset maker (or stay-maker, as Madame Caplin stated) who worked at 58 Berners Street, London throughout nearly the entire 19th Century. She was born in 1793 and died on the 2nd August 1888 – her long life was full of innovation, inspiration and individualism.

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Storytelling with museum objects

In connection with an upcoming historical redevelopment, the history team at York Castle Museum recently hosted a series of object “speed dating” events, which introduced the public to a range of unique pieces within the museum’s extensive collection – and only having four minutes to connect the public with the object. I was quick to accept an invitation to help out at one of these events – it was such great fun and full of really enthusiastic attendees with brilliant ideas for redevelopment.

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