Crossing the line : women and the Railway Mission 1881-1901

MALLERY, Ann (2018). Crossing the line : women and the Railway Mission 1881-1901. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis explores the lives and work of the women who worked for the Railway Mission during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The Railway Mission was established in 1881 with the aim of evangelising the large railway workforce of the late-Victorian period. Significant numbers of women worked for the Mission: they have, to date, been hidden from history. This thesis combines Mission records with census and related data to give an unprecedented insight into their lives and work. The thesis adds a new dimension to the study of women’s religious and philanthropic work. Whereas previous research has focused mainly on women’s work with other women and with children, this thesis explores women’s work within the male-dominated environment of the Victorian railway industry. The study contributes to current debates about the flexibility of ‘separate spheres’ in its examination of the ways in which women moved fluidly between the home and the industrialised spaces of Victorian railway infrastructure. Moreover, it questions the adequacy of a class conflict model for interpreting the working relationships which developed between middle-class women and working-class railwaymen. Previous research has emphasised the extent to which women, as both employees and as passengers, were marginalised in Victorian railway culture. This thesis shows how women, as religious workers, were, in contrast, able to gain legitimate access to railway spaces denied to other women. Finally, while there has been a significant amount of research into the synergies and tensions between aspects of Victorian railway and religious cultures, this has centred around the railway as a corporate entity and religion as an institutionalised cultural force. The thesis provides an alternative focus in its discussion of the ways in which religious women and railwaymen worked together as individuals to create areas of commonality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Midgley, Clare [0000-0002-8492-2381]
Additional Information: Director of Studies : Professor Clare Midgley No PQ Harvesting
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 13:14
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:02

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