The match factory women
The Bryant and May "match girls" strike of 1888 is one of those carefully selected events from which women pop into mainstream history; being a a nice balance for the suffragettes certainly helps.
But another talk today put flesh on the bones in more ways than one, suggesting that the strikers were considerably older than the 12 to 15 that is generally suggested. Certainly this picture of the elected organisers doesn't suggest young teenagers.
The talk covered the life of Sarah Chapman, one of these organisers, and the highest-paid worker involved in the strike (40s in the week before it started - CORRECTION, this should be 40 pence - see comments)). She is listed as a "booker", although apparently no one knows now exactly what that meant.
A huge amount of research has managed to almost entirely map out her life, and those of her relatives. She remained active in the trade union movement until 1891, when at the age of 29 she married. Yet despite probably two decades of working in a job that must have been in today's terms at least semi-skilled, no occupation is given on her marriage certificate. (Her husband, Charles Harry Dearman, is listed as a cabinetmaker.)
It's a good example of how so many women who were nothing of the sort end up listed as "housewife".
An excellent account, and some 1,200 documents relating to the strike, can be found at the TUC library.