Letter to Sunday Times March 2020

Dear Sir,

We are writing in reference to an article published on 15 March 2020 by Mark Tighe entitled ‘Herstory school pack dates partition to 1913’. While we welcome this well-written piece of reporting, we were very disappointed to see comments from Melanie Lynch, founder of Herstory, describing historians who raised queries about historical inaccuracies, such as the date in which partition occurred, as ‘acting like bitter feminists’. The Women’s History Association of Ireland (WHAI) has been actively promoting research into women’s history in Ireland as an all-island body since 1989 and supports all arenas where women’s history is advanced, once scholarship is promoted ethically and with correct citation. Over the past 5 years, individual members of the WHAI have assisted Herstory on a voluntary basis in their work and we, as an association have been very positive about the artistic and cultural projects Herstory have produced.

However, as an association we have never formally partnered with or collaborated with Herstory on resources/educational materials. When factual errors were brought to our attention in February 2020 in regard to secondary school materials, and we were informed as a committee that our logo was on the Herstory website, we asked politely that it be removed, which is was immediately. We were not aware it was in fact there and had not given permission for it to be used.

Incorrectly, Melanie Lynch states in the article that ‘We asked the WHAI to give us their recommended list of dates, a definitive list. A week later, they couldn’t actually decide on what the list was’. This is a false statement. Ms Lynch asked once via email if the WHAI could write a piece after the controversy ensued, to which she received no response. The WHAI committee has never agreed to write materials for Herstory and we would like this statement retracted.

As an association we stand for excellence in research and see it as vital that the historians who have conducted the painstaking work are always acknowledged. Irish women’s history is a collective of exemplar scholars, who use scholarly integrity, proper citation practices and empathy in their work. We continue to strive and advocate for the inclusion of women’s history in the curriculum and to highlight the work of female scholars, as we have done for over 30 years.

Yours sincerely,

Women’s History Association of Ireland (WHAI) Committee