Professor to lead women’s football history project

A University of Wolverhampton professor has been selected to lead a national project focused on unlocking the hidden history of women’s football.

Professor of Sport Jean Williams has been chosen as the academic lead for the National Football Museum’s project, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

The ‘Unlocking the Hidden History of Women’s Football’ project will involve cataloguing, digitising, and writing exhibition content on an estimated 20,000-25,000 individual items including tickets, programmes, small statuettes and fine art.

The first big task is to establish and lead a research network which will coordinate academic and community research and connect related collections on women’s football.

There are many museums and archives containing women’s football, and Professor Williams has worked with several of these including the British Library, The Imperial War Museum and The British Film Institute.

There are also collections at various places such as Lyons Tea Houses and Marks and Spencer, and some public history work funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund on the women’s team in Coventry, circa 1921. The project will also engage the LGBTI communities and a number of equality and diversity groups in and around football.

Professor Williams, from the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, said: “This is a very exciting project as it draws together, for the first time, an unprecedented collection of women’s football memorabilia dating back to 1869, just six years after the formation of the Football Association which saw the codification of modern football as a sport. We have football kit and clothing, art, toys, and collectibles as well as posters. Should you know any women with memorabilia or scrapbooks of their playing career, particularly before 1993, please do ask them to get in touch with the museum.”

A second major piece of the work is to host what is hoped will be the largest international academic conference on women’s football from 8-10 March 2018, to coincide with International Women’s Day. It is hoped this will feature speakers from the US, Canada, Europe, and Brazil, as well as a wide range of UK speakers.

The role will also involve researching and preparing content for an extension of the Museum’s permanent gallery to include women’s football. Jean has curated and written exhibitions before. In 2016, she helped the museum to obtain funding for Memories of 1966, and in 2014 Jean co-curated The Road to Rio: History of the World Cup in 24 Objects.

There will also be an international element as Professor Williams has worked in archives in China, USA, Australia, Namibia, as well as FIFA, UEFA and the International Olympic Committee collections in Switzerland.

Further information

Images courtesy of the National Football Museum

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: Thursday, 23 November 2017

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