RHS lecture 16 October 2023

‘Naming and Shaming? Telling Bad Bridget Stories’, with Professor Elaine Farrell (Queen's University Belfast) and Dr Leanne McCormick (Ulster University)

5:30pm BST, Monday 16 October 2023

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This is a Royal Historical Society Sponsored Lecture, taking place in person at the University of Hertfordshire College Lane, Hatfield, England, AL10 9AB

About this talk

This talk is based on our experiences leading the AHRC-funded project, ‘Bad Bridget: criminal and deviant Irish women in North America, 1838-1918’ (funded 2015-19).

In the talk, we explore our roles and responsibilities as historians in sharing (or omitting) details of girls’ and women’s criminal histories and their lived experiences through our project outputs, namely our co-authored monograph, Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women (Penguin Sandycove, 2023), which entered the Irish paperback non-fiction charts at #1, our podcast, and our Bad Bridget exhibition, currently in situ at National Museums NI’s Ulster American Folk Park (2022-24).

Our talk reflects on the ethical and other dilemmas that we faced when researching and writing about personal and sensitive issues from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We also explore the potential clash between engagement and entertainment when it comes to stories from the archives.

This is an RHS Sponsored Lecture at the University of Hertfordshire. For more information on how to get to the campus, see: https://www.herts.ac.uk/contact-us/where-to-find-us/college-lane-maps-and-directions

About the speakers

Elaine Farrell is a Reader in History at Queen’s University Belfast. She is a social historian with particular interests in women's history, and crime and punishment in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Ireland. As well as her co-authored Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women (Penguin, 2023), she has written two other monographs: Women, Crime and Punishment in Ireland: Life in the Nineteenth-Century Convict Prison (published by Cambridge University Press in 2020), and ‘A Most Diabolical Deed’: Infanticide and Irish Society, 1850-1900 (published by Manchester University Press in 2013). Her current project focuses on gossip in nineteenth-century Ireland.

Leanne McCormick is Senior Lecturer in Modern Irish Social History at Ulster University. Her research interests include women’s history, history of sexuality and history of medicine in Ireland/Northern Ireland. She co-authored the Report into Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland and is co-chair of the Independent Truth Recovery Panel into Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Workhouses in Northern Ireland. She is also a co-investigator on the AHRC-funded Queer NI Project. With Elaine Farrell she is co-creator of the Bad Bridget project, which includes an exhibition at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, a podcast series, and a book.

This is an RHS Sponsored Lecture held as part of the Society’s visit to historians at the University of Hertfordshire, on 16 October 2023.