2002-2003 Centre Student Associate

Jenéa Tallentire Gilley, Department of History

Statement of research interests:

In Canada between 1880 and the advent of World War II in 1939, critical changes in the roles of women in the workforce, politics, and the family redefined women?s access to full political and social citizenship. Ever-single women (women who did not marry) were a crucial aspect of this social evolution, especially in the world of work. Curiously, until now this group has often not been recognized by historians of the period as a category of historical research and analysis of its own. Organizing around the theme of ?marital status as a category of analysis,? I will ask why ever-single women have been hidden from the history of British Columbia (and Canada in general). I will concentrate on the history of white women of Anglo-European descent. This is an excellent opportunity to explore the intersections of race, class, and gender for a group that was considered both the most valuable in terms of bringing white, British civilization to the frontier, and most vulnerable to the moral degradation and vice they might encounter there. Through this study, a whole range of themes can be explored: women and work, women and education, sexuality, moral reform, feminist movement, and gender relations. With this project I aim to move beyond the restricted circulation of the regular dissertation by developing tools to extend my research to the public. Building on my experience creating an online academic journal (www.thirdspace.ca), I will develop my project simultaneously as a traditional linear dissertation and as a multimedia website. This will be used as an online teaching tool for my professional career and a publicly-accessible historical education site. The site will be divided into key themes of ever-single women?s experiences, sourced in my dissertation research but delivered in accessible language aimed at an undergraduate level: education, work, relationships, community and public service, and ideas about ?being single.? To aid in the exploration of these themes, the site will include cross-linked biographies, excerpts from primary source documents, glossaries, and bibliographical resources, as well as the full-text reproduction of my dissertation for interested users. I envision this site as a portal to extend public historical consciousness about women in BC and prompt questions about the legacy of ideas about singleness in our own day.

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