My name is Molly Ashmeade and I currently live in Gloucestershire in the UK with my family and our two adorable springer spaniels Bilbo and Bear. I am about to begin my master’s degree in history at the University of Edinburgh which I’m incredibly excited for!
During undergrad my love affair with gender history flourished and this eventually drew me to Girl Museum. My dissertation was on perceptions of male and female infertility during the Georgian period and how they indicated a double standard in treatments and attitudes.
Although infertility is generally more of an adult women’s issue it’s relation to the historic trend of the perpetuation of potentially damaging ideas about sex and the female body is a major problem that has affected, and continues to affect, girls as well as women. These ideas have had a marked effect on how girls interact with, and understand, their own bodies. I believe this is one of the biggest issues facing girls today and is something that society needs to rectify in order to fully provide girls with the tools to take ownership and pleasure in their bodies on their own terms.
When I’m not pondering issues about what we teach girls and women about their own bodies I am generally reading, sewing, or playing tennis. My reading material tends to be the classics and I am currently working my way through The Tenant of Wildfell Hall but my favourite books are The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows. Perhaps when my two favourite books are children’s books it is unsurprising that a museum centred around childhood appeals to me.
My love of historical fashion was added to by my time working at No.1 Royal Crescent Museum in Bath as I was dressed up in a housekeeper costume. It was so fun taking photos with people and the costume really seemed to bring people joy, as well as quite a few laughs since it didn’t exactly fit me well. I also volunteered at this museum throughout my whole degree as a room guide which was a role I utterly adored.
Of all the museums I’ve been in this might just be one of my favourites, although admittedly I am a little biased. No. 1 Royal Crescent is a Georgian townhouse in Bath city centre that has been furnished in the style of a 1770s middle class abode. I loved that it had a guide in every room who was generally incredibly knowledgeable about the Georgian era so it felt like each experience of the museum was different and tailored to you and the questions you wanted answered. I also really appreciated the fact that it was made to appear middle-class as so often when we view houses of that era we get swept up in the grandeur of them and the nitty gritty details of the everyday lives of the real people who lived there can get left behind. At No.1 there was no chance of that happening. For one thing the guides enjoyed scandalising the guests with stories of one bath a year and using a chamber pot during a meal too much for the museum to avoid portraying the more real aspects of Georgian life.
My passion for museums and analysing how and what histories we tell has fostered in me a wish to someday work in an important position within the heritage industry such as heritage manager of head curator. History plays a major role in shaping people’s identity both as individuals and as part of larger groups and so I want to be a part of furthering the heritage industry’s aim of inclusivity. The process of telling different, diverse stories has started, but still needs developing and I want to be a part of that process.
One of Girl Museum’s aims is to make history more inclusive through the lens of girlhood and that is one of the many reasons why I am thrilled to be joining the Girl Museum team. I look forward to learning more about myself and museums through this process and hope to help create some great content for all of you!
Girl Museum Inc.