In the Spotlight - Harriettes
By Ed "Hazukashii" Howell
7 Mar 2015 (Updated 21 Sep 2021)
The Hash House Harriers (a.k.a. HHH or H3) were believed to have been founded in late 1938, as a variant of the old English Harrier clubs that date back to the early 19th century, or possibly even before. The history of the HHH has been fairly well documented, with the first 10 clubs being formed between 1938 and 1965 in Malaya (now Malaysia) and the near region to include Singapore and Borneo, as MEN ONLY organizations. What we have not heard is a discussion on the origins of the Harriettes (a.k.a. Harriets or Hens). There are references of women running with harrier clubs in the 1800s (the pre-HHH era), but early clubs are rumored to have allowed women to run, but not allowing them to set the trail. I have no specific details, but during my research on hashing, I recall a reference to a regular harrier club in Kuala Lumpur being active in the 1920s and early 1930s, as a mixed club for both men and women. Some of the founding members of the HHH had run with them as well.
The first recorded women's version of HHH is the Brunei Hens which were founded on 21 Nov 1966, by Robert Tiepel (no mention whether he ran with them or not). The Ipoh Harriettes are next, and were founded on 29 Aug 1968, by Loke Kai Heng. In a recent discussion with the current GM of the Ipoh Harriets, Boon Lee Lim "Jenny001", she explained to me that the Ipoh Harriets claim the title of the first mixed HHH club. Now, over 50 years later, there are numerous variations of mixed and Harriette only HHH clubs all over the world. Examples (from my own experience) include the Mission Harriettes in California, USA where men were required to remain behind two women at all times on trail. Another example is the Tokyo Ladies HHH, where only women were allowed to hold committee positions. The Harriettes of Oahu (HO Hash) and the No Strings Attached H3 in Florida, do not normally allow men, but when they do, they must wear pink. Also, the Kuala Lumpur Harriettes and Bangkok Harriettes, where a woman is always the GM, but they are just a mixed hash club beyond that.
The first 10 recorded Women's Hash clubs are:
Brunei Hens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Nov 1966
Ipoh Harriettes . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Aug 1968
Kota Kinabalu Harriettes . . . . . 10 May 1970
Ladies of Hong Kong H3 . . . . . 15 Jun 1971
Sandakan Harriettes . . . . . . . . 31 Dec 1971
Kuching Harriettes . . . . . . . . . 20 Jun 1972
Penang Harriettes . . . . . . . . . . 21 Nov 1972
Singapore Harriettes . . . . . . . . 17 Oct 1973
Kuala Lumpur Harriettes . . . . . 18 Jun 1974
Port Moresby Harriettes . . . . . 30 Sep 1974
*This update adds the previously missed Sandakan Harriettes. I also found the Rabaul Harriettes below, but both that club, and Medan Harriettes unfortunately fall out of the Top 10 list.
Rabaul Harriettes . . . . . . . . . . 31 Mar 1975
Medan Harriettes . . . . . . . . . . 13 Nov 1975
There were potentially some mixed clubs that formed during the 60s and 70s, but the records are unclear as to when they transitioned from Men Only to Mixed. There are also isolated incidents of some women being allowed to run with Men Only clubs during this period, to include one Judy Prosser (an Aussie consulate member) that was a regular on the Jakarta Men's Hash in the early 70s. Another instance was, according to the club website, the very first run of the Colombo H3 in Sri Lanka had 40 runners on that first trail, including two women (Handwarmer and Iron Lady). At one point in 1984, Handwarmer injured her knee and could not run for a bit. The wife of another hasher was allowed to join the Monday hash, and enjoyed it so much she started bringing more women along. Well, this went on for a couple weeks and before you know it, the old boy’s network started to revolt and declared that the Colombo H3 would become a Male Only club. In a show of uncommon grace, they did allow the original ladies to continue on as honorary gentlemen. The change in membership to male only caused a stir in the hashing community, and the forming of the Colombo Harriettes on 20 Jun 1984. According to the hash genealogy, this club was founded by Mike “Climb Every Mountain” Hill, as a mixed hash club. Originally it ran on Wednesday, but has since shifted to Saturday to allow for travel to more areas around the island.
The title of oldest active Harriette is bestowed upon Rajendar ‘Glamour’ Kaur, born 9 May 1933, has been an avid hasher for well over 50 years. Her first hash was on the Brunei Men’s H3 in 1966, during a short period when women were allowed to participate. Once the number of ladies had grown, they were encouraged to start their own club (and leave the men to their own fun), and the Hen House Harriers, the first ladies hash ever, were founded on 21 Nov 1966. Glamour participated on their first trail and was the first hen to achieve 100 runs, and the second to achieve 200. Unfortunately, at one point in the 70s she moved to another town to operate a branch of the family business. Sadly missing out on the weekly fun, Glamour asked for the Hens to move their hash day to Tuesday when her shop was closed. They agreed, and Glamour was able to rejoin the ladies hash, and it has remained on Tuesday ever since. Glamour states “There are so many things I enjoy about the Hash such as Halloween runs, 7and7 runs, Head dress runs, Pajama runs and so on.” She has also traveled to hash events in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Bali, Tawau, and Labuan, and has “at least 60-70 hash t-shirts in her collection. Fifty years is a long time to be a member of one hash club. She said, “Many of the ladies that participated were expats, so contact has been lost with most of them.” Although, she does keep in touch with two dear friends in the UK, who hashed with the Hen’s in the 1990s, and both have returned from time to time to visit her. Contributing to the hash, she has held positions as Grand Mistress, Egg Collector, and various other Committee positions. She still attends the Ladies Hash nearly every Tuesday, and has participated in over 1450 trails. Now at 88 years of age (and due to an old knee injury), she cannot run any longer, but is still a regular attendee to walk around and see her friends on the hash.
For many more articles like this on the history of hashing, check out . . . http://gotothehash.net/history/inthespotlight.html