First of all may I wish you a very happy International Women’s Day! As I write I am taking part in an event celebrating women at Derbyshire Council Council’s headquarters here in Matlock.
The line up for the afternoon features talks on women, by women, on subjects such as life and work. We’ll be joined later by the Leader of Derbyshire County Council, Anne Western, who will be followed by a performance from the Workvoice Choir (I also see a belly dancing lesson on the itinerary – but I’ll gloss over that).
I have come along to represent the record office and all the amazing and inspirational collections we hold featuring and relating to women – some famous names and those not so well known. I’ve brought with me the letters patent of Bess of Hardwick, which granted the building of almshouses in Derby in 1597, right through to the letters of Florence Nightingale 1876-1890 and newspaper reports of the Derbyshire Women’s Action Group, who set up relief centres in Chesterfield in support of the miners during the strikes of 1984-85.
Judith Greenhalgh, Women’s Champion and Strategic Director, has just given us a fascinating talk on the history of International Women’s Day, which celebrates its 100 year anniversary this year. Did you know that rallies held for International Women’s Day in Russian during 1917 played a major part in starting the Russian Revolution?
The event has barely started and already I have had gasps from attendees, much along the lines of “Wow – Florence Nightingale actually wrote this and I’m allowed to touch it!!”. Such enthusiasm for our collections so early on bodes well for a great event!