History_Religion
Completed project

Jumpers, umbrellas and plastic bags

Material culture and women’s everyday experiences of Methodism in England from 1945.

Project summary

The Challenge

What contribution have women made to the spiritual and practical needs of communities within the Methodist church?

The Approach

The research involved reviewing archives at the Methodist Women’s Collection and conducting interviews with female members of the church.

The Outcome

A new exhibition is planned at Epworth Old Rectory in 2021/22.

Lead researchers

Funded by

Project partners

The Challenge

This 18-month, British Academy-funded project is run by Dr Ruth Slatter and has provided important insights into the shifting role of women within the Methodist Church since 1945.

By exploring the role of material culture in British Methodist women’s everyday engagements in faith and religious practice over the past 75 years, the research has uncovered three key findings.

Women have made and used material things to make important, but largely overlooked contributions, to the spiritual and practical needs of communities.

Dr Ruth Slatter

Lecturer in Human Geography

  • The research has highlighted how women have used material things to construct ‘female spaces’ of worship, fellowship and mission, with or without the support of the central Methodist Church.
  • It has also emphasised how women have made and used material things to make important, but largely overlooked contributions, to the spiritual and practical needs of communities such as Black Africans in apartheid South Africa and Dalit women in India.
  • It has demonstrated how intergenerational networks of female friendship are essential to the effective organisation of Methodist communities – and that these networks are often facilitated by the exchange of material things.

The Approach

These insights are the result of archival research in the newly formed Methodist Women’s Collection at Epworth Old Rectory. Over 20 interviews with female members of Methodist communities.

The Epworth Old Rectory

The Impact

This research will form the basis of a new exhibition at Epworth Old Rectory in 2021/22.