The Emergence of Women's Orange Lodges in Scotland: gender, ethnicity and women's activism, 1909-1940

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This article explores the emergence of female Orange lodges in Scotland during the first half of the twentieth century. It uses rare Orange archival records and newspaper sources to establish Orangewomen's working-class background and to analyse their public activism, from fundraising for maternal and child welfare, to political campaigns against Home Rule and in Education Authority elections. While anti-Home Rule politics before the Great War and anti-Catholic politics during the 1920s influenced women's engagement with the Orange Order to an extent, this article argues that the timing and conditions in which female lodges emerged were determined more by broader debate about women's role in public life. Orangewomen did not participate in Edwardian or interwar feminist campaigns but these, together with women's economic and social gains during the First World War, did create the conditions in which women could gain numbers and status within the Orange Order. Moreover, women played a key role in shaping the shifting ethnic identification of the Orange Order during the interwar period, demonstrating the durable, malleable and gendered nature of Irish Protestant ethnic identity in twentieth-century Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-74
Number of pages23
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number1
Early online date7 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


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