The history of the East End Women’s Museum


Origins

I’m trying to think of something I can do and the most positive thing I can think of is to help create that missing museum and help represent those missing stories myself
— Sara Huws in an email to Sarah Jackson, 2015

The museum was established in 2015, in response to a huge missed opportunity - when a proposed women's history museum on Cable Street in East London was revealed to only tell the story of a misogynistic serial killer.

Dedicated to making something positive out of the resulting uproar, one of our founders, Sara Huws, reached out to an old friend, Sarah Jackson, and together they created the East End Women’s Museum. Within a week they had over 800 people sign up to help out, and the New York Times asking when they were opening! It was clear the museum was needed, wanted - and here to stay.

a virtual museum

The museum held a collaborative ethos from the start, working in partnership to create ‘pop-up’ events and exhibitions exploring the rich social, political and cultural history of East End women. These included a panel discussion with East End Sister’s Uncut on historical and contemporary resistance; capturing women’s memories of Watney Market with King's College London and University College London; an exhibition on local activism at Hackney Museum; recreating the East London Federation of Suffragette’s headquarters the Women’s Hall at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives; and recording oral histories of women factory workers in partnership with Eastside Community Heritage.

Additionally, the museum’s staff and many volunteers started researching women’s stories to share online. These included bold and personal histories, such as the fascinating Amelia Harris (as told by her granddaughter), or the irrepressible Josie Woods.


New building in Barking

In 2018, we were delighted to announce that with the support of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, we will be moving in to our first physical site - a brand-new building in Barking town centre, set to open in 2021. A new women’s museum for the community, for London, and beyond, this will be a space for unearthing, sharing and celebrating East End women’s stories.

We are currently working hard to make the move to the new site. For the next two years we will be the busiest of bees - fundraising, designing, relationship building and so on. Along the way we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Follow our journey on the blog, and, if you’re able to support us, please get involved.