Dr Sophie KayMemsahib and Mother: Centring the Female Experience of the British Raj

Dr Sophie Kay
Dr Sophie Kay

What was domestic life really like for the European wives of colonial India? Women’s personal experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, child-rearing and baby loss do not often find their way into formal historical records: it can be a challenge indeed to understand what life was like for our female ancestors in British India. Yet first-hand accounts from women such as Flora Annie Steel and Minnie Wood can help us to reconstruct and understand the memsahibs’ world. Examining a blend of diaries, correspondence and autobiographical accounts alongside a 19th century domestic advice guide, this session will delve into the private sphere of births, babies, medical difficulties and losses, set against the backdrop of 19th century India.

Dr. Sophie Kay is a professional genealogist and geneticist at Khronicle®, www.khronicle.co.uk, and an Associate of AGRA. She is also the ‘Ancestry and Genealogy Expert’ for the popular archaeology and history show, Time Team. A former cancer researcher, Sophie attained her D.Phil. in Systems Biology from the University of Oxford in 2015, where she also trained in DNA extraction and analysis.

Sophie is an experienced educator, international speaker, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She teaches historical mapping techniques and research methodology at Pharos Tutors and is the Tutor in DNA and Genetic Genealogy at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.

Life as a professional family historian unites Sophie’s twin loves of genetics and historical records, and her specialisms include genetic genealogy, maps, historical occupations & research methodology. She’s the creator of the #OccupationOfTheDay hashtag across social media, which aims to get researchers talking about the jobs and working lives that appear in their family tree, and tackles all manner of family history subjects on her blog, The Parchment Rustler, www.parchmentrustler.com.

Sophie’s own family history journey has taken in Lancashire textile workers, Cornish soldiers, Irish agricultural labourers, and Middlesex carpenters who built a lot of London pubs: a welcome and never-ending voyage of discovery!