Over the years we have carried out several projects to do with women’s place in history. It started in 2000 looking at the way women are often written out of history. We studied a selection of Edinburgh women who we felt deserved to be recalled.
Funding was available in 2007 to look at how both free and ex-slave women were active in the abolitionist movement and how that raised consciousness about women’s rights in general. This led us neatly into looking at the rise of the Women's Suffrage Movement in Scotland. The Gude Cause March in 2009 celebrated the centenary of the suffrage march from Edinburgh to London providing a focus and endpoint to our work.
Inspired by what we could find out if we searched, we next toured a number of graveyards, taking inspiration from some of the headstones. We embarked on "Dead Interesting Women" and researched what we could of their lives. The need for a warmer starting point made us turn to books and "Excuse My Dust" was born, looking at some Scottish women writers who were well known in their own time but have been largely forgotten now. From books we went to women in art, not as painters but as subjects. During the ‘Women in Portraiture’ study day at the Portrait Gallery we compared how we would like to be portrayed with how women were presented in the past.
All of this took us on a new tack in 2012, using our interest and research, to begin designing an Edinburgh Women's Trail, starting with an Edinburgh Women's Calendar which was launched in October of that year.
For our latest project the Lothian Women's Forum took part in WEA Scotland's “Breaking the Mould”; we lead one of the Edinburgh groups. Individuals and groups of women had been invited to take part and look at the lives and roles of both women and women’s organisations engaged in political and social activism during the 100 years since World War I. Some of the women researched during the course may be included on our developing Edinburgh Women's Trail. This resulted in the production of our booklet "Breaking the Mould:Edinburgh" in September 2015.
We are now discussing the next phase in our work.