Ursula Masson was a woman who made things happen. Proud to call herself a feminist, she was a fine scholar and an inspirational teacher whose passionate commitment to women and to politics was evident to everyone who knew her.
As a history lecturer at the then University of Glamorgan from 1994, she became a leading figure in the field of women’s history, especially Welsh women’s political history. Ursula was an early proponent of what is now called in REF-speak ‘Impact’. That is, she took historical research out of the academy and back out into the wider world. She was one of the founders of Archif Menywod Cymru/Women’s Archive of Wales. Their very successful women’s history roadshows were initially her idea and she was instrumental in pushing through the Heritage Lottery bid which gained the fund to support this campaign.
Her published work included two editions of women’s political writing for Honno Press: Elizabeth Andrews’ autobiography/memoir, A Woman’s Work is Never Done (2006), and The Very Salt of Life: Welsh Women’s Political Writings from Chartism to Suffrage (2007). She also produced an edition of the minute book of the Aberdare Women’s Liberal Association from 1891-1907, entitled: ‘Women’s Rights and Womanly Duties’ (2005). An active member of Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society, she was also co-editor of their journal. And she was Chair of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network.
Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Ursula took her first degree at Cardiff University followed by an MA at the University of Keele. She worked as a journalist in Australia and then in Adult Education in Swansea before she came to Glamorgan. Her PhD research focused on Women’s Liberal Associations in Wales and was published posthumously as ‘For Women, for Wales and for Liberalism: Women in Liberal Politics in Wales 1880-1914 by the University of Wales Press.
She also set up, with Professor Jane Aaron, the Centre for Gender Studies in Wales at the University of South Wales, which hosts an annual lecture on International Women’s Day in her memory.
Words: Professor Diana Wallace