March is Womenâ€™s History Month, which aims to highlight the lives and achievements of women throughout history. I am a post-graduate researcher working in collaboration with The National Archives and the University of Leicester, andÂ I am particularly interested in telling the stories of women and widows.
As a researcher, I have discovered that when I delve into records for the lives of womenÂ I alsoÂ come across the stories of the lost, the marginalised and the hidden. This type of research reminds us that we must continually strive to go beyond the boundaries of what we have considered worthy of research and discover more histories for the next generation. Within the records held at The National Archives there are countless names, lives and stories still to be explored.
My research looks at the warfare that dominated England during the mid-17th century period. During times of war lives are lost, livelihoods destroyed and communities changed. The same was true of the English Civil Wars and the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Women lost husbands and sons; children lost fathers and homes. I have read many petitions presented by women who, as a result of the wars, were made widows andÂ left with fatherless children. The documents can be heartbreaking to read and show how womenÂ suffered and survived during this period.
This isn’t just an issue in the 17th century, of course. Warfare throughout history hasÂ left victims on the battlefield as well as at home. The image below records the Queenâ€™s concern that widows be provided for following the end of the First World War. Continue reading »