“The lady who dared” – an examination of the 1914 Dronfield school strike

WHITFIELD, Paul Leon (2021). “The lady who dared” – an examination of the 1914 Dronfield school strike. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00367


This study explores the events of the Dronfield school strike of 1914. In doing so it considers the personal experiences of those centrally involved and the impact of events on them. The core aim of the study is to consider how much the Dronfield events were initiated and driven by the reformist actions of one woman, headteacher of Dronfield Elementary School Girls’ Department Sarah Outram; how much they were the expression of conflicting social forces prevailing in the early years of the twentieth century; and how much the specific circumstances prevailing in the town of Dronfield created the atmosphere in which the school strike could occur. This study examines a wide range of primary source material relating to the Dronfield school strike. Some of the primary sources, such as the file of the Board of Education investigation, have been considered by earlier historical studies, but this study examines sources not explored before. These include the widespread newspaper coverage, and documents about the pre-existing conflict between the Dronfield school managers and the Derbyshire Education Committee, which formed a backdrop to the strike events. The study places the Dronfield event in the wider context of the social movements of the early 20th century, including the struggle for women’s suffrage and debates around feminism, sex education, social purity and eugenics. It then focusses on the particular circumstances in Dronfield and examines how events were shaped by the actions, motives and beliefs of people within the town. The study shows how tensions around social issues existed across the country, but only in Dronfield did they combine with local circumstances to provoke and sustain the unique phenomenon of the Dronfield school strike. In doing so the study presents an example of the impact wider social movements could have on everyday life at a local level.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Twells, Alison [0000-0003-2602-0029]
Thesis advisor - Robertson, Nicole [0000-0001-9504-146X]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Professor Alison Wells / Thesis supervisor: Dr. Nicole Robertson
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00367
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 14 May 2021 16:12
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 14:46
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28657

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