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Today is   Last update 07-11-2011
 
Getting a new Society off the ground.....

The year was 1866.....

CWAAS - a new Society formed in the mid-nineteenth century.

Would it take lady members?

And if so, would the lady members be on an equal footing with men in the life of the Society?

Was it proper that ladies should be involved in an activity such as archaeology anyway?

These were the sorts of things that people looking on would doubtless be wondering.

Why?


When CWAAS was founded in 1866, it was in general a period of social uncertainty in England. Women’s place in society was in some ways precarious. Women were barred from gaining some kinds of education and from taking an active role in politics, for instance; women surrendered ownership of money and property on marrying; and women were definitely regarded as secondary in importance to men in general terms.

However, there were already stirrings of what would eventually become a huge national struggle for equality of the sexes. How would CWAAS handle such issues?

The following note is based on facts and figures available in Transactions for the years 1875-81. Now read on!

The Society published material in 1866, the year when CWAAS was founded, and in ensuing years; but it was only in 1874 that the various articles were collected into what was published as Volume I of Transactions. Volume 2 duly appeared in 1875. Notably, it contained a paper contributed by a lady. Miss Mary Powley of Langwathby, Cumberland, was the author, the first woman to have a paper published in Transactions. Mary also contributed papers to Volumes 3 and 4; and Volume 5 presented a paper by another lady, Miss Fanny Bland, whose address was given as ‘Sedbergh R.S.V., Yorkshire’ (Interestingly, Sedbergh was to be absorbed from Yorkshire into the new county of Cumbria created in the 1974 changes to local government boundaries. See map on HOME PAGE.)

Picture of The former Powley’s Farm, where Mary Powley spent much of her life
The former Powley’s Farm, where Mary Powley spent much of her life. Mary was well known as a poet and intriguingly was able to make herself proficient in Danish. She was severely incapacitated but accomplished much in spite of that. She died in 1882.


The first lists of Members appeared in Vol.3 (1876-7) of Transactions. The ‘original’ list named 49 men (but was not dated). The years 1870-73 incl. brought only small numbers of new members - 7,4,5 and 2 in date order. But in 1874, 36 new members joined, followed by 50 in 1875.

Whitehaven Library is named in this last list, apparently the first institution to join the Society.

1877 was another good year for growth - 45 more members.

There was a new item that year: a separate list of lady members - 33 of them. Separate lists of men and women were published in the next 4 years: 1878 +5 lady members; 1879 +9; 1880 +5; and in 1881 +6.

However, the following year there was a new departure: in and from 1882, lists no longer segregated the ladies and the men.

That was a highly significant development in the context of current social attitudes of the time; and in view of the well-known struggles for parity of the sexes which took place even long after 1882, CWAAS undoubtedly showed a pleasing degree of enlightenment regarding this important social advance.























































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