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This article is about the tension between the grand narrative of modern European women's history and the micro-study of a particular place and experience. Adopting a perspective far removed from the metropolitan heart of Europe forces one to think differently about the prime motors of change and the chronology of that change. I ask how we can write meaningful and recognisable histories which simultaneously are recognisable to those whose voices are represented and which also contribute to the (re)writing of the bigger picture. I conclude that an alternative history can only emerge from a historical practice which privileges a social memory crafted around narratives of women whose sense of the past included themselves.