Carve her name…with pride

1958 film poster for a film called Carve Her Name with Pride. Poster shows Virginia McKenna in fatigues, holding a rifle.

Two years ago, me and a friend started a project. Carve her name tells the story, day by day, of women’s achievements throughout history.

I’m putting my name to it now as I’ve spent the last few months bringing all the facets of my work together, working out how they fit to create one version of me.

I’ve followed various ‘on this day’ twitter accounts for years. In January 2017, I took a rail replacement bus service to North Devon to go on the nearest Women’s March. On the way home I was reading twitter reports from marches across the world and I connected the two thoughts. How could women’s history be included in those daily history tweet streams?

I asked for advice on how to set up the fact files from Prof.Frank McDonough, who runs a brilliant ‘on this day’ account, and found a friend who also likes the history of women’s achievements who could help. There are many great accounts that tweet about badass women from history, and who give you glimpses of women from the past. They did tend to publish a fact about a woman on her birthday, so we decided instead to tweet on the day someone achieved something.

Dates someone achieved something are much, much harder to source than birthdays.

In the two years since we started, we’ve found facts for 332 days of the year. I’ve notebooks rammed with more women to research. There have been periods where the account has gone silent, when we’ve simply had too much personal stuff in the way of the project. There was a scary moment where we thought the huge folder of facts was corrupted as there had been a lot of working past midnight in the first year to build those files.

At the start of March we started a weekly blog and I got an external reader library card for the Hypatia collection at the local university. Last week, we finally switched on a Facebook page and started feeding it and Instagram with daily snippets. At some point we’ll probably need to organise a funding model for it as it’s now part of my working week rather than a side-gig.

I didn’t put my name to the project to start with: I wanted to keep it separate from my day job, and from my creative writing. I’m qualified in History of Art, Design and Film so I always feel I’m not a proper historian. But it’s time add this facet of my work to the rest. I’m proud of what we’ve done to date, and I hope we keep growing the project.

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