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History of tough life for workin' lassies

Working women from the 1930s to 1980s is the subject of a new social history resource for primary schools in the AnnandaleEskdale area of the Borders.

Three handling boxes and a DVD provide the material for a series of in-school activity sessions for P6s and 7s. These are based on The Workin' Lassie, an 18-month project run by Annan Museum, which last year mounted an exhibition celebrating the lives of local working women.

The project was designed by museum curator Anne Ramsbottom and co-ordinated by Roseanna Lockerbie, who recorded interviews with more than 50 women. Sixty hours' worth of material was then edited down to 90 minutes and combined with photographs and topical music from local musicians to create a DVD covering different kinds of work such as domestic, farm, office, healthcare and shops.

The DVD accompanies The Workin' Lassie handling boxes, aimed at upper primary schools, but could also be used by high schools. Objects include old-fashioned irons, a carpet-beater and butter pats, an old money-to-decimal ready reckoner, and a small telephone switchboard, as well as manual and electric typewriters.

Mrs Lockerbie is a local workin' lassie herself. Born and raised in Annan, she left school at 16 and worked in a variety of jobs before going part-time when her children were young. She then applied for university when the Crichton Campus opened in nearby Dumfries.

After graduating in 2003, with an MA that included Scottish Studies and oral history, she went back to a job in the factory where she had worked at the age of 16.

"Then a notice for a co-ordinator for the project went up in the Job Centre," she says, "and I decided to apply. I was thrilled when I got it. They said I could have my old job back at the factory when the project finished but I think I'll go in for home caring instead - unless something more interesting turns up.

"Whatever happens, I'll continue with local history research in some form or other because it's been a fascinating 18 months."

For details and to borrow the handling boxes and DVD, contact Annan Museum

T 01461 201384.

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