Women in Oxford’s History podcast series

7 November 2016

Maria Czaplicka, 1884-1921

Olivia Robinson, a history DPhil student at Kellogg, has been involved in producing a series of podcasts about women who have played an important part in Oxford’s history. The series, called ‘Women in Oxford’s History’ (WiOH), was developed together with a fellow doctoral student, Alison Moulds of the English Faculty, and is supported by the University’s AHRC-TORCH Graduate Fund.

The history of Oxford is often told through the experiences of eminent men drawn from the aristocracy, the Church and academia, while the stories of ordinary women’s contributions to the city and the University remain neglected. The blue plaque scheme exists to recognise the lives of eminent people connected to the city, but less than a quarter of Oxford’s plaques commemorate women. The WiOH podcast project aims to redress this balance by highlighting the role women have played in Oxford’s history and inspiring others to investigate women’s impact on their own communities and cities.

The project consists of six podcasts on women whose contributions to either ‘town or gown’ life have been overlooked. These showcase individuals whose lives are not widely known and whose names may be unfamiliar to many. These are not the Margaret Thatchers and Ada Lovelaces of the world, but are nonetheless women who deserve wider recognition for their important contributions to the city and university over the centuries.

The podcasts can be downloaded for free and have been designed to appeal to a broad audience and people of all ages and backgrounds.  They might be listened to by a Year 11 student on her way to school, a young professional who listens to podcasts while running, or a retired American tourist planning to explore the city.

The contributors are postgraduate students at Oxford University in the fields of Anthropology, Creative Writing, and Economic, Social and Local History. They have been busy producing narrative accounts of individual women whom they’ve chosen for their connection to, and impact on, Oxford. In several cases, the advanced search facility at the Online Dictionary of National Biography was used to identify suitable women to research in more depth, and the subjects include women with interests in social work, race relations, women’s education and museum collections. The research produced by the contributors has then been adapted into scripts suitable for audio recordings. These podcasts also feature relaxed interviews with the contributors themselves talking about their research. The first women to be featured are as follows.

Rose Potter Clarributt, long-serving matron at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

Elizabeth Wordsworth, founding principal of Lady Margaret Hall and founder of St Hugh’s College.

Maria Czaplicka, Polish, pioneering anthropologist based at the University of Oxford at the start of the twentieth century.

Ida Busbridge, mathematician, tutor and promoter of wider access for women of all backgrounds to study at Oxford.

Kofoworola Moore, the first black woman to earn a degree at the University of Oxford.

C Violet Butler, philanthropist, educator and social researcher of working class lives in Oxford.

Each podcast lasts less than 15 minutes and is available to download via the University’s podcast series on iTunes. An accompanying website – www.womenofoxford.co.uk – contains the podcast scripts along with extra research resources and links. Look out for updates too on Twitter @WomenOfOxford. Alternatively, follow Olivia on @TheAncestorian or see her website, www.oliviarobinson.co.uk.

Image copyright Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. 1998.505.10. Maria Czaplicka, 1884-1921, on reindeer with Dolgan hosts (near Golchikha).