Uncover women’s influence on region with new Sisters of Mersey app

The influence of women on the history, culture and life of Merseyside can now be discovered on the move, after the University of Liverpool launched its Sisters of Mersey app.

The free app – which is now available for download to both Apple and Android devices – features an interactive map allowing you to search out sites of interest across Merseyside, as well discover previously unknown stories while out and about.

The content is based on research by University historian, Dr Samantha Caslin, who was keen to bring some equality to perceptions of how the city was influenced – and by whom – over time.

Dr Caslin, a Lecturer in the Department of History, said: “I grew more aware of the fact that there wasn’t a lot of sign-posting of women’s history in the area.

“When I walk around I see a lot of expressions of masculinity; streets and places named after famous men and a lot of statues of famous men, but not very much to give an indication of women’s role in that history.

“But this is not just about women’s positive contributions Merseyside, it’s also about telling those complicated stories.

“Some of the women featured weren’t always particularly admirable – stories about women committing murder for example – but that’s because we’re not looking to tell an upbeat story.

Dr Samantha Caslin

“We want to tell the story of women’s involvement in urban history in all its murkiness, because that’s what makes it real.

“It’s not just about creating positive stories, it’s also about telling the complicated stories because that’s what will help us understand how women experienced urban life over time.”

The app is accompanied by a Sisters of Mersey website, which features more details on some of the amazing, overlooked and sometimes even shocking tales of female influence on the shape of the city.

As well as being broken down geographically, the stories are also categorized into four groupings: Politicians, Social Campaigners and Feminists; Charity and Philanthropy; Crime and Policing; and Popular Culture, to allow users to more readily discover stories and lives of interest.

And while characters from history feature prominently, there are also some more familiar, contemporary names included; such as athlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, and Dr Caslin’s personal favourite, Courtney Love.

Dr Caslin said: “That’s the one that surprised me the most!

“We think of her as an icon of US riot girl music, but actually she spent time in Liverpool in the 80s.”

The app was developed by the University’s Computing Services Department, and has been designed to be continuously updated as more stories are uncovered; not just by University academics and researchers but by the general public as well.

Dr Caslin added: “We’ve got a Submit a Site function built in because this is an ongoing project and we are adding content all the time.

“Part of that involves working with the local community, with historians and with schools; and we want to see more people get in touch with us with their suggestions.

“If users want to write entries that’s great – it’s possible to do it on the go, just take a photo on your phone and submit it.

“It’s really easy and lots of fun.”

Sisters of Mersey can be downloaded from the App Store for Apple and from Google Play for Android. Find out more by visiting www.liverpool.ac.uk/sisters-of-mersey.

You can also follow on twitter @sistersofmersey