Dr. Meaghan Walker studies the clothing of working men who went to sea under British jurisdiction in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is returning to Memorial University of Newfoundland in the fall of 2021 as the recipient of the Ewart A. Pratt Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Newfoundland and Labrador Military, Naval and Maritime History. This project will look at the supply and consumption of mass-produced menswear in Newfoundland and Labrador, especially considering the close relationship between ready-made slop clothing (mass-produced garments produced through government contracts) and maritime labour, and the extensive maritime workforce in the region. Also of interest is how imperial institutions like prisons, poor relief, religious missions, fishing premises and military establishments made use of the influx of cheap garments for the maritime labour market.
This work will build on her SSHRCC-funded doctoral dissertation, which is about the clothing supplied to ratings and marines during the French Wars (1797-1815) using Admiralty in-letters found at The National Archives, Kew, and the Caird Library, Greenwich. This project sees slop clothing and uniforms as illustrators of wider issues of power on and off naval ships: anxieties about masculinity, hierarchy, loyalty, administration, and technology are revealed in the letters that the Admiralty received. She received her doctorate from the University of Alberta in 2020.
Meaghan received her BA (Hons.) and Masters at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2010 and 2011. Between these degrees, a part of her undergraduate work appeared in Papers of the Canadian Bibliographical Society/Cahiers de la Société Bibliographique du Canada about the publication of When Ships were Ships and Not Tin Pots: The Seafaring Adventures of William Morris Barnes (also published as Rolling Home). She wrote her MA using the vast bureaucratic documents stored at the Maritime History Archive in St. John’s, NL, by tracking and analysing the inventories of deceased merchant seafarers who left inventories of possessions between 1863 and 1880. This project was published in the International Journal of Maritime History in 2019. During the course of her MA work, she also contributed to the SSHRC-funded project More Than a List of Crew. The MTLC project aims to help academic and non-academic researchers find important information in the Crew Agreements stored at the MHA through interactive documents and short essays on the men and women who signed on to British merchant vessels in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Outside of maritime clothing, Meaghan’s interests include the history and development of maritime nostalgia, the growth of Western orientated ready-made clothing and fast-fashion, and the role of history, historical narrative and practice, and memory in video games.