Category Archives: Archive

Collective Annotation – Archival Discovery – Workshops

Feminist Archive South present…

Collective Annotation / Archival Discovery

Two free workshops that invite the people of Bristol to

  • Explore our collections
  • Collaborate and contribute
  • Leave their mark in the archival record
  • Tell new archival stories

Describe, categorise and tag artefacts from the Feminist Archive South.

Collectively…

Discover:

Why archive catalogues, especially within a digital environment, are important

Explore:

How your contributions can transmit feminist history into the future

Imagine:

New ways to describe the contents of the feminist archive

Who are these workshops for?

Anyone who wants to help enrich feminism’s archival records and ensure they are preserved for the long term.

No previous experience of archives is necessary, as you will be guided through the exercise in a supportive way.

Please note this is a hands-on, participatory workshop. Attendees will respond in writing or orally to archive material and, later, share descriptions with the group.

When?

Wednesday 28 June 2-5pm

Workshop theme: Immigration, Asylum and anti-deportation activism

&

Wednesday 5 July 2-5pm

Workshop theme: Health and the body

Where?

Special Collections
Arts and Social Sciences Library
University of Bristol
Tyndall Avenue
Bristol
BS8 1TJ

Wow, this sounds cool, how can I take part?

Workshops are free to attend but numbers are limited.

Registration is therefore essential.

Please email dm.withers@bristol.ac.uk to book your place, or if you have any questions.

Volunteer/ creche expenses available

Arts and Social Sciences Library is a wheelchair accessible venue, please get in touch if you have further access needs

Moving Targets – Feminist Archive South at Arnolfini this Summer!

Feminist Archive South are delighted to be contributing archive material for Arnolfini’s summer exhibition, Moving Targets.

Moving Targets will ‘draw on Bristol’s independent spirit and explore punk as an attitude that has more than one history and meaning.’

The exhibition title is taken from and dedicated to Mimi Thi Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour’s chapbook ‘Punk is a Moving Target’.

Our material will be displayed in the galleries from 8 August-11 September.

A researcher reads in the Feminist Archive South

The exhibition and accompanying event programme offer a much needed counterpoint to white, western and male dominated narratives of punk history.

These one-dimensional stories continue to be perpetuated, even in 2016.

Viv Albertine, who you should know as a member of the Slits, recently defaced storyboards at the British Library’s punk exhibition in order to re-insert ground-breaking female acts that were excluded from the exhibition.

A folder of archive material full of papers

Materials displayed from our collection include Bristol WLM newsletters, fliers, badges and anarcha-feminism/ punk ephemera.

Bryony Gillard Arnolfini Curator Reads in the Feminist Archive South

We hope our presence at Moving Targets will help raise awareness about the Feminist Archive South, and encourage more people to visit us in the future.

A reader researches the history of anarcha-feminism and its relationship to the WLM

For now, enjoy these images of us rooting through the collections!

Copies of the Bristol WLM Newsletter from 1976 Feminist Archive South

Alison Bartlett – Researching the International Feminist Peace Movement

We asked Alison Bartlett, currently a visiting scholar at the University of Bristol from the University of Western Australia, to write about her experiences researching in the FAS.

In the spirit of Greenham activism, she ‘widened the (feminist archive) web’ to collections relating to the feminist peace movement in Australia.

Enjoy!

***

As an Australian researcher interested in feminist cultural histories, the Feminist Archives South is one of the main reasons I applied for a Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor position at Bristol University. My research into the 1980s women’s peace movement and especially the two women’s peace camps held ­in Australia has always been in relation to Greenham Common women’s peace camp. The opportunity to sift through the rich archives of this iconic feminist event is a rare treat.

At the same time, I’ve been reading Kate Eichhorn’s book The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order (2013) which proposes that the growing interest by feminists to delve into archives is to make sense of the ‘legacies, epistemes, and traumas pressing down on the present’. Eichhorn argues that neoliberalism of the late twentieth century has not only individualized our capacities as subjects but eroded our sense of collective agency, something that archives like the Feminist Archive South restores. Rather than understanding archives as nostalgia for the past, she claims archives reorient our understanding of the past and therefore enable us to reimagine our present.

Triangular shawl with different coloured webs sewn together

Shawl collectively made by women at Greenham Common

The boxes of material on Greenham Common are full of letters, flyers, newspaper clippings, court documents, photographs, stickers, postcards, and even a multicoloured spiderweb shawl and a piece of the green military fence tied with webs of string. I read with astonishment that some Greenham women took US President Ronald Reagan to court in New York over the deployment of nuclear missiles onto English common land. And the letters sent to women arrested and sent to Holloways prison are particularly poignant.

The ferocity of their belief in the necessity to stop escalating military interventions and nuclear arms is inspiring, and it’s easy to see how it motivated a worldwide movement of women protesting war and militarization. Together with the women’s movement, the women’s peace movement formed a significant set of arguments about the continuum of male violence, and women’s agency to imagine other ways of living, loving, and doing civilian politics.

My research into the 1980s women’s peace camps in Australia indicates that they were a direct response to what was happening in Berkshire. They were conceived as support actions but also to bring attention to the particularities of the US military in Australia. The first camp was held in central Australia outside the US military base at Pine Gap in December 1983, coinciding with the day the Cruise Missiles arrived at Greenham. The second camp was held a year later in 1984 at Cockburn Sound on the west coast near Fremantle, a major port into which US naval vessels docked and sailors took their rest and recreation.

Unlike at Greenham Common, an umbrella organization was formed specifically to coordinate the peace camps in Australia, bringing together a coalition of women’s organisations, peace, and anti-nuclear groups. The archives are largely filed under the name of the group: Women For Survival. There are substantial collections at the Jessie Street National Women’s Library in Sydney, and the University of Melbourne Archives in Melbourne which holds the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives. But almost every State Library and many university libraries around Australia also hold some material. The Murdoch University Special Collections in Perth holds material in the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Western Australia (GALAWA) collection; and in Adelaide the State Library of South Australia now holds some of the dispersed resources from the Adelaide Women’s Liberation Archive; the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne; and the Fryer Library at the University of Queensland in Brisbane hold material. There are some badges displayed at the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra where you can also hear questions in Parliament being played on rotation, and there’s a student film made at the Pine Gap camp available at the National Film, Television and Radio School online. The Northern Territory Archives Service in Alice Springs has a great collection of oral history interviews.

bath women's peace group

There was a traffic of ideas, people, rituals, telegrams, letters, songs, and even parts of the military mesh fences between Greenham and the Australian peace camps. There are traces of this in the Australian archives and in the Feminist Archives South. Zohl de Ishtar stands out as a regular writer for the Greenham Newsletter, campaigning relentlessly to raise the profile of colonized and militarized Pacific nations, especially those used as nuclear testing sites from the 1950s. But it’s the thousands and thousands of women who went to Greenham for a day or a week or a year who register the impact of collective action, and whose traces in the archives demonstrate the mass attraction of arguments for de-militarisation amidst the threat of nuclear war during the Cold War period. I can’t imagine how 30 000 turned up on December 12, 1982 to hold hands around the entire 9 mile perimeter of the US Air Base at Greenham to ‘embrace the base’.

Eichhorn argues that archives themselves are forms of activism, as are archivists. The Feminist Archives South certainly demonstrate the value of feminist archives, and remind us of the possibilities for changing our worlds through collective action.

***

We welcome all our readers to write about their experiences researching in the Feminist Archive South. It helps us to understand how people engage with our collections, and communicate our holdings to wider audiences.

If you have a FAS story you want to share with readers of this blog, please send it to us (no more than 1000 words).

 Many thanks to Alison for taking time to write up her visit!

Volunteer opportunities in the Feminist Archive South

The Feminist Archive South holds 160 metres (plus) of inspirational materials. Unfortunately we have not yet had a chance to transfer all of our paper catalogues and lists on to our online archive catalogue.

We need some kind volunteers to help with typing up word lists, access databases, and other random listings, which can converted into one catalogue, so people both in Bristol and elsewhere, can easily evaluate what is in the archive, and order up resources to use. At the moment, a significant amount of our lists are on paper alone.

Ensuring the archive is catalogued really helps researchers, and members of feminist communities, discover the Feminist Archive South’s contents. It also helps to preserve material in the long run (because of less handling and we are able to access materials from store in a more precise way).

Bear in mind everything won’t be catalogued at the end of this project, but if you would like to get involved it would really help us.

We envisage people will be taking printed or photocopied lists and typing them up and converting them into another format.  It can be done in Special Collections, or we can supply copies of lists for you to work on at home. We will provide a template for you to fill, which should be easy to use and follow.

You don’t have to have any prior experience of archive work, just be keen to learn about feminist histories and have a good eye for detail.

Do get in touch and we are happy to discuss this further.

There is no deadline, as we envisage this kind of support will be ongoing for the immediate future.

News from the archive

University of Bristol Special Collections archivist, Feminist Archive South trustee and all round goodie Hannah Lowery offers this communication:

‘Although the blog has been quiet recently and there are less researchers using FAS at the moment, today we hosted a workshop with Maud Perrier and 16 of her University of Bristol postgraduates.

Although the Special Collections Reading Room was rather chilly, there was a real buzz with discussions of Greenham Common, Carole Harwood, Wages for Housework, and other topics.

Maud and I commented on how cold it must have been living at Greenham Common, and on how dedicated the women must have been.

DM1981 129 1 2 060

Although the majority of the Feminist Archive South is held off site in the University of Bristol Library Research Reserve, it is available for use.

Use the catalogue to get an idea of the holdings and get in touch to see if we can help with your research.’

What are you waiting for? Our amazing collection awaits you….

FAS Collection

 

Women’s Liberation Music Archive – catalogued and available for use

Fliers for the Women's Liberation Music ArchiveThe Women’s Liberation Music Archive is now available for consultation in the University of Bristol Special Collections, and is stored with the Feminist Archive South.

It has the reference DM2598 and contents can be viewed on our online catalogue.

It consists of 7 boxes of materials relating to Music and the Women’s Movement in the 1970s and 1980s.Street Performance of Clapperclaw

Gems include audio and audiovisual recordings of bands such as Clapperclaw, Jam Today, Ova, the Fabulous Dirt Sisters, Feminist Improvising Group, Frankie Armstrong, The Mistakes, Guest Stars,  and Contradictions, as well as a range of fascinating ephemera including fliers, diaries, budget books, manifestos, songbooks, posters, oral histories and much more.

Listening and viewing facilities are available within the archive for this material.

Big thanks to Sarah Cuthill who catalogued the material for us.

 

Student visits to the archive

The Feminist Archive South is continuing to get increased use from students (undergraduate and postgraduate) from the University of Bristol and further afield (UWE, Bath, Exeter, Bath Spa and beyond).

In March 2014 we held four workshops when we hosted all of the first year University of the West of England design students (around 80 in total).
Two students read documents, a banner stating 'Bristol Greenham Women' is in the backgroun

They were inspired by the collection to create their own pieces of work, and a fascinating time was had by all involved, students and staff alike. Discussions took place on Greenham Common, Miss World (and alternatives to Miss World), Sistershow, relationships, art work, 1950s central Europe, and everything else!

A group of students gather round the table reading and discussing archive materials

Women’s Radio Workshop – Women and Music

We are slowly migrating our audio cassette-based collections to digital files and we thought we’d share some of the fruits of our labour here.

The Women’s Radio Workshop programme ‘Women and Music’ provides a rare and unique insight into women’s liberation music making.

Women and Music Front women and music back

The programme features ‘seven women who play and write music’ including Rosemary Schonfeld, Jana Runnalls (Ova), Andrea Webb, Janie Webb, Judya Manthis (sp?), Lawrie Strike, Louise Marsden, Rosie Fisher and Sarah Gillam.

For more background on music making and the WLM visit the online Women’s Liberation Music Archive, in particular read the introduction to the Sisters in Song book. The physical WLMA has been deposited in the FAS and is in the process of being catalogued – check back soon for updates on this!

For now, enjoy!

New Additions to the Greenham Common Collection – The story of Mrs. Jocelyn Wood

The latest item we have catalogued contributes to our already significant collection relating to Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp.

We were recently contacted by Michael Wood, the son of Mrs. Jocelyn Wood, who sadly recently passed away, to see if we would be interested in housing a piece of the Greenham Common fence and some photographs of the camp. Of course we said yes!

An email from Michael is included below to introduce his mother’s text, which outlines her memories of being stationed at Greenham Common during the Second World War, years before she returned to Greenham as an activist.

A big thankyou to Michael for letting us post this story on the website, along with the photos. If you want to view the items in the flesh, they bear the catalogue number DM2123/1/Archive Boxes 129.

‘Hello

My wife has recently contacted you about a piece of fence from Greenham Common from my mother (Jocelyne Wood, nee Withycombe) – correspondence below. We think she has some photos as well which we will try to dig out and send them together.

DM1981 129 1 5 065

She did write a few notes about her life – nothing about going to Greenham during the seventies (?) but she was stationed there for a few months during the war until the Americans arrived – see attachment.

We’ll be in touch again when we’ve found the photos.

Best wishes

Michael (Wood)’

DM1981 129 1 3 061

DM1981 129 1 6 067RAF Greenham Common was like a holiday camp after Hednesford, I spent three very enjoyable summer months there July to August 1943, WAAFs were billeted in a large house with a garden stretching down to the Kennet, a fast flowing chalk stream, It was ideal bathing, We were working outside doing daily inspections on Oxfords, which in good summer weather was pleasant work.

We did the same jobs as the RAF – for which as far as I can remember we got half the pay, NCOs were all RAF and most had served RAF apprenticeships.

DM1981 129 1 4 064Greenham was a Training Command station. WAAF mechanics were never sent to active service stations – a fact you were not told when you joined up. Our Greenham was very different from the USAF cruise missile base, The main Basingstoke road, now diverted, ran through the camp. As far as I can remember there were no fences even round the runway. It trained for night flying so there must have been some way of stopping traffic when flying was in progress.

Hitching to Fleet from Greenham was easy usually only taking about an hour, so I went home a lot – sometimes just for a half day.

The road to Basingstoke was beautiful with wild clematis and scabious. I had my cycle with me as did most of the others. A favourite evening ride was to Kingsclere where there was a good YM canteen in a magnificent barn. (I have since tried without success to identify that barn.)

DM1981 129 1 1 059

The Services’ canteens and hostels were very useful, There were hostels in most major towns which I made much use of on my hitching expeditions. London ones were particularly useful making theatre visits possible, A uniform opened many doors. Looking back it seems very unfair. Girls conscripted to factories like ROF Chorley worked much harder and for longer hours than we did, were away from home living inferior hostels with inferior food but had no such facilities, nor did the Land Army.

For other entertainment there was Newbury and the Americans, There were several US bases nearby that invited us to dances, The main attraction was the food rather than the G.I.s most of whom were boring. There were WO exceptions, I got to know David McGeon because I happened to tell him I was reading War & Peace. I went out with him several times. He was a film script writer and was fairly left wing. He was interesting, but too introspective to be easy company, Then Stan Sobolewski took over. I met him at a dance at the Corn Exchange in Newbury from where we walked through the park by the river orchestrated by thunder and lightning – but no rain.

DM1981 129 1 2 060

I saw a lot him during the next two weeks. He was tall, dark and handsome and very attractive, but not political. He was of Polish origin and came from Detroit, Two weeks later the blow fell: the Americans were taking Greenham over and the RAF had to move. Stan and I corresponded for several months and met once in London, but the magic had gone. I had had a lucky escape.

The news of the move was devastating to everyone. We all liked Greenham. We had one week’s notice. A special train was provided for the move. The whole station packed up and moved. Our destination was Long Newnton, Glos. It was an unattractive camp and the nearest town, Tetbury, was no compensation for Newbury in spite of its lovely old buildings. I was there less than a week before I was posted yet again – to the Fitters’ Course at Halton.