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New research into women who travelled on board

During the lead up to International Women’s Day, the Brunel Institute will be researching five key women who travelled on board the SS Great Britain. The team at the Institute share a little more.


In the Brunel Institute we are constantly trying to find out more about those that worked and travelled on the SS Great Britain during her working lifetime. Any new research we find about the ship’s passengers and crew is used to update our online database Global Stories. Global Stories charts the journey of over 30,000 of the ship’s inhabitants and just within the last year, we have made 676 edits after finding out new information.

Throughout this period, we have been running a genealogy project to help identify some of the unnamed women that travelled on the SS Great Britain, during her working life as a passenger ship. At the time the SS Great Britain was working as a passenger ship, married couples and families often travelled under one ticket which recorded the name, profession and age of the male passenger only. Married women often didn’t have their names recorded, which means that many of our female passengers are simply recorded by their husband's surname. The history of women is often not as well documented as men, which makes this project important. Since it began this project has now unearthed information about 108 women.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’d like to highlight the progress of this research and the challenges that come with women’s history. We will be dedicating two weeks to researching five key female figures who travelled and worked on the ship.

Joanna Mathers, our Maritime Curator, has selected these women from a variety of different backgrounds and voyages. Our volunteers will be trying to find out more about these women so we can update their Global Stories profiles, as well as putting together Wikipedia pages. In the library we often feature Lego figures for visitors to spot on our SS Great Britain ship model, keep a look out for the miniature figures of the five women we’ll be researching! We will be open for Archive in Five sessions to share updates on this research with visitors.


The Brunel Institute is open Tuesday to Friday (and the first two Saturdays of the month) 10.30am - 4.30pm. Archive in Five Sessions are held 12pm - 1pm on these days.