Meet the women who are actually trying to open a museum about suffragettes

Meet the women who are actually trying to open a museum about suffragettes

Last year Tower Hamlets council approved the planning permission application for a "Museum of Women's History" in Shadwell, east London, which seemed like a good fit considering the rich and varied women's history associated with the area.

So when boards in front of the premises were taken down last week to reveal the "Jack the Ripper Museum", people were understandably furious.

One local labelled the museum a "sick joke" and the Twitterati are also displeased:

The man behind the museum, Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, a former head of diversity at Google, told The Evening Standard that his team changed their minds about the project because it would be "more interesting" to focus on a misogynist serial killer not connected to the area rather than, you know, the women who lived and worked on the historic street:

We did plan to do a museum about social history of women but as the project developed we decided a more interesting angle was from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper.

It is absolutely not celebrating the crime of Jack the Ripper but looking at why and how the women got in that situation in the first place.

While the furore has given the new museum a lot of free publicity, two women have decided to take matters into their own hands and actually create the Museum of Women's History that Palmer-Edgecumbe failed to deliver.

Sara Huws

Sarah Jackson

Sara Huws and Sarah Jackson of the East London Suffragettes are crowdsourcing ideas to make the promised tribute a reality.

Jackson wrote a book about the history of socialist feminists based in east London and the pair put on a festival and maintain discussion groups to celebrate the suffragettes' historic achievements, so they're well versed in the subject.

Huws told the opening of the Jack the Ripper Museum a "disappointment": "when there are so many incredible stories to tell it's frustrating that once again someone has chosen to cash in on the popularity of a misogynist serial killer," Jackson added.

The duo don't have a "fixed vision" for the museum yet but Huws says that it will approach the topic from an intersectional viewpoint and will remain focussed on the rich social history of the east end of London.

We're aiming to bring in the voices of East End women who have been pushed to the margins of society, and of history.

  • Sarah Jackson

Over 100 people have already volunteered to help Huws and Jackson brainstorm ideas of how to make the museum happen - if you'd like to help, get in touch with them here.

More: A museum that was supposed to be dedicated to London's suffragettes is now somehow about Jack the Ripper instead

More: There's an app that will send you an alert when you're near a spot a woman made history

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