Young Women on the Move Britain circa 1880-1950

Pooley, C.G. and Pooley, M.E. (2021) Young Women on the Move Britain circa 1880-1950. Social Science History, 45 (3). pp. 495-517. ISSN 0145-5532

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Travel is an essential part of everyday life for most people, and it inevitably brings inconvenience at times, but women have often experienced particular and distinctive constraints and harassments while traveling that may inhibit or reduce their mobility. However, we know relatively little in detail about how, why, and how much women traveled in the past. This article provides new evidence about female mobility in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain by analyzing the daily movements that were recorded in the personal diaries of nine young women. The diary entries show that all the women traveled frequently both alone and with others, used a variety of transport technologies that were available at the time, and rarely recorded incidents that caused them concern or alarm. Mobility was not only essential for carrying out everyday activities but it was also central to the development of friendships and, especially, courting. Both social class and location did have some influence on the ways in which the young women traveled, on their freedom to travel alone, and on the inconveniences they faced. However, overall, the similarities between the experiences of the nine diarists were much greater than the differences. Although it is not possible to generalize widely from just nine accounts, these diaries do provide new insights into female mobility in the past.

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Journal Article
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Social Science History
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17 Sep 2021 08:50
Last Modified:
19 Nov 2021 11:57