A Few Forgotten Women
And Some There Be That Have No Memorial
Even without meaning to, family historians often focus on the men on their family tree. It is usually the men who carry on the surname, the men who join the armed forces and who are more likely to leave wills, to vote or to rent property, thereby leaving a trail in the documentary record. Merely by virtue of her gender, a female can become overlooked. The 'A Few Forgotten Women' project seeks to preserve the memory of just some of those whose stories might otherwise be lost.
Some woman are further on the margins than others and this project focusses on those whose lives were touched by issues such as poverty, illegitimacy, criminality, disability, alcoholism, prostitution, abandonment or mental ill-health. Often, several of these conditions go hand in hand, impacting on the lives of the women whose stories we seek to tell. Other women were less marginalised but lack descendants who can preserve their memory; they too find a place here. Our team's expertise lies in British records, so that is the focus of our stories. We plan to spread our geographical range across the British Isles as the project progresses.
The nature of this site means that many of the stories we tell do not make easy reading. Please be aware that some of the biographies will contain material that some readers might find distressing.
The creators of the A Few Forgotten Women Project are a group of friends, known collectively as A Few Good Women. We first got together during lockdown to provide mutual encouragement for family history projects. We realised that, unless we took on the responsibility of recording them, the stories of many of the women we encountered during our research would be lost. A Few Forgotten Women was born. The aim of the project is to preserve the memory of some women who have, until now, been hiding in the shadows, forgotten by history. The women that you will meet on these pages are those that we have discovered during our investigations into our own ancestry, as part of a one-name study, a one-place study, or when undertaking a wider project. Then there are the women that had no link to our own work but who cried out to us as we researched in the documents of the past. Some of the stories have been contributed by guests, others are a result of the efforts of our A Few Forgotten Women Fridays research. We hope that meeting our forgotten women will encourage you to tell the stories of your own. If you would like to join us in one of our collaborative research projects you can find out more about A Few Forgotten Women Fridays here.
We are sensitive to the ethical issues surrounding telling the stories of people of the past. There is a balance to be maintained between commemorating their lives and respecting personal privacy. Many of our women faced trauma and adversity; on balance, we believe they deserve their place in history. We aim to provide rounded portraits of real people in an empathetic and non-judgmental way. Where the women have descendants, we have tried to contact them to get permission to tell their ancestor's stories. This has not always been possible. If we have told a story of your ancestors and you would rather we removed it, please do contact us.
We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate. The research that we do and the conclusions that we draw, are based on the sources available to us at the time. We are all experienced genealogists but records can be open to alternative interpretations. The A Few Forgotten Women and their volunteers, collectively or individually, cannot be held liable for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that might be found, for any adverse circumstances that might arise, or losses that might occur, as a result of the material that is found on this site.
You can hear us chatting about the project with Helen Tovey of Family Tree Magazine here.