Deirdre Beddoe discusses organising the first Welsh Women's History Conference



Deirdre Beddoe talks about organising the first Welsh Women’s History conference in Glamorgan, Wales. She talks about how some men were also interested, especially when they could relate to women’s history through their mothers or daughters.

What is the value of learning Women’s History?

Do you think that men should learn Women’s History? Do you think women should learn Men’s History?

Image details
Deirdre Beddoe (ed.), Changing Times: A different world – women’s stories of the 50s and 60s (Aberystwyth: Honno, 2010) © Honno Press
Deirdre Beddoe, Out of the Shadows: A history of women in twentieth-century Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000) © University of Wales Press (ISBN 9780708315910)
Deirdre Beddoe, Discovering Women’s History: A practical guide to the sources of women’s history 1800-1945 (London: Pandora, 1993) © Pandora Press



I had organised a conference that was really a Llafur [now The Welsh People’s History Society, then known as the Society for the Study of Welsh Labour History] conference based in the University of Glamorgan, which was still then the Polytechnic of Wales, and Llafur was a very male organisation, there’d been lots of arguments, should we have a conference that was devoted to women’s history, some of the miners said it’s not our area boys, but I persisted with this and some of the men on the Llafur committee were very for this. We tried it for a few years but by 1983 we went ahead. I was based in Glamorgan so a lot of the organisation, you know, all that stuff like where will the people stay, Angela John helped out with the programme, putting the whole thing together. But I noticed that one of the chaps who was organising the accommodation, a member of the university staff said, ‘Well who’s going to come to this?’ and I think it was a staggeringly good response, I don’t know the figures, but I think about 200 people came. A woman came from America with money from the Marshall Aid fund, a large contingent came from Ireland, people came from northern England, from other universities, interested women, and the conference on Welsh working class women was a huge success. The university loved me for it, the polytechnic loved me for it ‘cos I didn’t think in these terms. But because so many people came into this conference it was regarded as a short course [laughs] and it increased their student numbers so everybody was very happy with this and I was so pleased that there was such a big response to the need for women’s history in Wales. And it gave the whole subject huge publicity and I got great people to contribute, I think Sheila Rowbotham spoke at it, we had a panel on which Elaine Morgan contributed, and Professor Gwyn Alf Williams was the sort of great, fantastic historian on Welsh working class life. And he was great because men like him were willing to confess, we made an error, it’s wrong that we have left women out of the history and always the way to appeal to these men, older men was through their mothers [laughs] and younger men was through their daughters. They didn’t want their daughters to be held back in their careers.
Deirdre Beddoe discusses organising the first Welsh Women's History Conference
14 - 15 July 2011
Deirdre Beddoe
Sound recording
Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
© British Library
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British Library

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