History Workshop 7, Women in History, was held at Ruskin College between 4 and 6 May 1973. In addition to the presentation of papers, the practice of holding a social and cultural event continued. The film Night Cleaners’ Strike, by Marc Karlin, was shown, followed by a party with folk music.
As with previous Workshops, several sessions were held each day, with multiple papers in each session. Sessions included: ‘Women in the Ancient World’, ‘Third World’, ‘Women’s Strikes’, ‘Ideology and Work’, ‘The Cult of Motherhood’, ‘The Cult of Gentility’, ‘Blacksmiths and Herring Girls’, ‘Women and the Workers’ Revolt 1910-1914’, ‘Liberation Movements’, ‘Women and Crime’, and ‘Women in the First World War’. Papers presented included Women in Ancient Rome, ‘Harijan’ Women in Village India, Scotch Herring Girls 1880-1930, and Work Girls and Prostitutes in 19th-Century Plymouth.
As was usual for Workshops at this time, speakers were drawn from staff and students of adult education institutions and universities, as well as some political campaigns. Workshop 7 reflected increasing feminist influence; although some feminists protested that certain speakers had treated women’s history as a mere sideline to their ‘real’ work. The profile of the speakers at this Workshop was markedly different from previous Workshops in that the majority were women. It was also noticeable that more speakers and participants were from overseas. At future workshops the overseas constituency continued to grow
Some of the publicity for this Workshop was printed by the workers of Briant Colour Printing (BCP) in London during a ‘work-in’ in 1972-1973. The ‘work-in’ took place whilst employees at BCP occupied the print workshop following the issuing of redundancy notices. They then continued to work while campaigning for a new owner to be found who would guarantee to carry on running the company with the existing staff. Although a new owner was ultimately found, all of the employees were made redundant a few months later, the new owner having first secured the print workshop to ensure that the occupation could not be repeated. During the ‘work-in’, History Workshop was one of a number of left-wing organisations which commissioned work from BCP in order to express solidarity with the occupiers.