Category Archives: Workshops

The Feminist Archive awarded funding from the Women’s Suffrage Centenary Grant Scheme

The Feminist Archive is delighted to announce that it has been awarded over £50,000 by the Government Equalities Office as part of the Women’s Suffrage Centenary Grant Scheme.

FAS was one of 8 standout schemes to be awarded a share of the Large Grant Fund designed to “celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage, educate young people about its significance, and encourage more women to participate in public life so that they have an equal voice.”

As well as the Women’s Suffrage Centenary, 2018 marks the 40thanniversary of the the Feminist Archive South which was established in 1978 to document the histories of international feminist social movements active between 1960-2000. Including over 160 metres of diverse archive materials – oral histories, pamphlets, posters, the personal papers of women activists, periodicals– the archive tells the story of how activists struggled for gender equality and realised the increased participation of women in public life. Alongside our partner archive based at the University of Leeds (FAN), we hold one of the most significant collections of women’s activist histories in the UK.

The Women’s Suffrage Centenary project aims to increase knowledge of UK democracy and contribute to greater gender parity in local and national politics through three interlinked project strands: digital engagement, educational workshops and a touring exhibition. These events will celebrate the historical legacy of suffrage and the WLM and bring untold feminist narratives to light. They will also work to engage groups underrepresented in politics and civic life, particularly LGBT+ people, those from lower-socio-economic backgrounds, and those living in rural isolation, with caring responsibilities or homebound due to a disability.

  • Strand One ‘Hatpins to Hashtags: Digital Democracy’ will deliver intensive training days on working with participatory, active democracy platforms via adult education centres and support women to cascade their digital democracy learning.
  • Strand Two will develop and deliver a series of educational workshops for young people aged 16 – 30 at FE colleges and youth groups, providing engaging educational opportunities for young people to learn about the diverse histories of feminist activism as it links to contemporary debates about gender equality in their lives.
  • Strand Three will celebrate and reflect on the achievements of the feminist movement to date by curating five exhibitions of FAS’ rich poster collection across the South West as well as delivering a speaker series at each regional exhibition addressing topics such as ‘Intersectional suffrage’ and ‘Digital feminism: challenging online abuse’.

The Feminist Archive would like to express our gratitude to the Government Equalities Office for funding this project and congratulate the 7 other winning projects. You can read more about the Women’s Suffrage Centenary Grant Schemeand other projects here and follow our news and project developments on Twitter and Facebook.

The Feminist Archive South Turns 40!

The Feminist Archive South is planning to kick start a year of projects to celebrate its 40th anniversary with an invitation to explore some of the most radical and striking posters held by the University of Bristol’s Special Collections. The event, which will take place on 31st January from 2-5pm, will be the first of a series of monthly collaborative workshops seeking to engage new audiences with the archive.

The Feminist Archive South holds over 160 metres of inspirational materials collected by activists documenting the progression of feminist politics since the 1960s. Our drive for the next era in the FAS is to create new opportunities for discover the diversity of our collections, explore the intersectionality of materials and bring untold feminist narratives to light.

These sessions will enable participants to learn about archive cataloguing, have a good rummage in our collections and meet people who are interested in the feminist archive. No previous experience is necessary – we welcome anyone curious about the archive to come along and find out more.

The archive sessions will lay the foundations for the 40th anniversary projects, within which we plan to develop cutting-edge learning resources and a new exhibition based on topics such as gender in education, migration and transnational feminisms.

The workshop launch on 31st January will be a chance to see and research posters ranging from politics and performing arts to violence and Reclaim the Night.

The dates for the first four events are 31 Jan, 14 Feb, 21 March and 18 April from 2-5pm at Special Collections, UoB Arts and Social Sciences Library (wheelchair accessible). If you are interested in attending or have any questions please get in touch by emailing feminist.archive40@gmail.com. Numbers are limited therefore registration is essential.

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

Reflections on the History of Bristol Women’s Aid workshop – 20 July 2013

On Saturday 20 July we held the last workshop in the Feminist Archive South Spring/ Summer workshop series run as part of the Ellen Malos’ Archives project.

We’ve held a range of workshops and events over the past few months, including the history of feminist print media, film showings, archiving contemporary feminist activism, and singing with Frankie Armstrong.

For the last workshop we explored the history of Bristol Women’s Aid with Ellen Malos and Jackie Barron, unfortunately Nicola Harwin was unwell so she couldn’t join us – get better soon Nicola.

Here is some personal impressions of the workshop written by me (that’s debi, by way…)

The early history of women’s aid in Bristol has been fairly well recounted on this blog – a single bed that happened to be in the Women Centre in 1973 was the seed from which Women’s Aid in Bristol grew. The centre often received calls from the police and the Samaritans to see if they could help women and children who were experiencing domestic violence, and it soon became clear that there was a real need for services to help vulnerable women in Bristol. Women and their children would take refuge in the centre for a few nights, but as the centre was a busy place they could not stay there all the time. In 1973 there was literally no support, and no understanding of the abuse women suffered, and it was commonly stated by authorities that women should just ‘go home’ to their violent partners.

As the calls to the women’s centre became more frequent, WLM activists began searching for a property where women could live safely. This became known as the ‘Women’s House Project.’ Recounting the early histories of women’s aid demonstrated how ‘women’s safe houses’ acted as spaces of mutual aid and co-operation, embodying many of the political ideals of the women’s movement as the first point on the document illustrates: ‘the house will be run on a day to day basis by the women in residence.’

List of practical arrangements for running the women's house

The workshop revealed how WLM activists invented language to describe and analyse violence against women, including the very term we use today – ‘violence against women.’ Some of this language, such as ‘battered women’ now seems out-dated, and we reflected in the workshop on how terminology has changed as more became known about the field.

Women Your Body Belongs to You

It might be worthwhile here to just pause a minute and consider: can you imagine living in a culture where there was no language to describe certain kinds of violence? As one contributor, who had been very involved in the development of women’s services in Bath commented, the analyses emerging from the WLM ‘prised open the private domain’ as an arena where women and children can experience physical and emotional violence.

A major part of the development of women’s aid and related services was research and policy reform. As Ellen was keen to state, women in the movement had no previous knowledge of law or social policy so they had to pick things up as they went along. This meant learning how the complex machinery of the state worked, negotiating dense bureaucracy and exercising immense powers of diplomacy. As Ellen jokingly reflected, she developed the skill to sit in meetings with sexist men, resist the urge to strangle them and maintain working relationships that helped them make incremental gains in attaining vital services for women.

Books and pamphlets about women's aid and violence against women research

I asked Ellen if she felt there was any tension between working so directly to reform patriarchal law and the aims of the wider movement that attempted to revolutionise the whole of society. As a socialist, Ellen personally felt there was no contradiction in pursuing such a course of action, but she did suggest there were people in the movement who were critical of these strategies. Ellen emphasised however that the women’s aid movement did not operate solely to change the law. It also aimed to change cultural perceptions and behaviour so that we can live in a world where violence against women is understood to be completely unacceptable. This is clearly an area where activism is vibrant in contemporary feminism, but there is still a very very long way to go before this aim is realised.

Women's House - image of woman's face

A revealing conversation from the afternoon focused on how the austerity measures implemented by the coalition government risk creating a situation where women’s financial independence will be curtailed, which could potentially mean women stay in relationships with violent partners. The introduction of a single payment of Universal Credit in October 2013 decrees that benefit payments can only be paid to one person per household, and does not stipulate the gender of the person money should be paid to.

Feminists have long emphasised the importance of women’s financial independence through benefit payments. Eleanor Rathbone argued for a system of family allowances paid directly to mothers as early as 1918. When threats to family allowance were tabled in the 1970s, women in the WLM mobilized to ensure that payments were still paid to the mother. The change to how benefit payments are structured in the UK may mean that payments go the man, therefore eroding what for some women is crucial access to financial autonomy.

Collection of pamphlets about Bristol Women's Aid

Such changes in welfare policies demonstrate that the struggle for equality and cultural transformation at the heart of feminist politics is a continuous one. Advances can be made but they can also be retracted, particularly in an age of austerity where women’s freedoms are surplus to financial requirements. The workshop also demonstrated to me that understanding these struggles in a wider historical context is crucial, so that we can better understand how feminist incisions can be made in political and cultural life.

Domestic Violence & Housing: Local Authorities Responses to women and children escaping violence in the home

This was one of the first pieces of research to explore how local authorities were implementing laws to protect women escaping violence in the home

I hope that the plans to write the history of Bristol Women’s Aid is realised quickly. Contemporary activists would benefit from knowing how to make policy interventions and transform the law. It is clear that the current government is unpicking just about every progressive piece of legislation made in the 20th century. Sharing such knowledge and skills across feminist generations is vital for understanding the varied strategies of committed resistance women have collectively practiced throughout history. As I said earlier, the fight for equality and cultural transformation is a continuous one, and recording and sharing what we have done is an integral part of sustaining political action.

 

 

 

Final Workshop – Bristol Women’s Aid: Saturday 20 July, MShed, 1-5pm

Join Ellen Malos, Nicola Harwin and Jackie Barron to discuss the history of Women’s Aid in Bristol on Saturday, 20 July, Studio 2 MShed, 1-5pm. All welcome.

The majority of Ellen’s activist life is dedicated to the ongoing struggle to end Violence Against Women.

For the final workshop in this series, Ellen is joined by colleagues who helped develop vital services to protect and support vulnerable women in Bristol and the UK.

Ellen Malos sits on the bed in the women's centre. Women's Liberation posters adorn the walls

Drawing on material from Ellen’s Archive we will look at the history and development of Bristol Women’s Aid and link it to the wider national context.

We will explore questions such as:

  • How and why did the Women’s Liberation movement come to support women and their children who were experiencing violence within the home, and to build an autonomous movement against it?
  • How has it now become supported by local and national governments ?
  • How did Bristol Women’s Aid begin and what did it do?
  • How did things change after the early 1970s?
  • Where are we now?

Next event: archiving contemporary feminist activism

Archiving contemporary feminist activism. Thursday, 27 June 7-9.30pm @ MShed.

Feminists and women’s rights activists have often made a strong connection between history and social change. Simply put, when women are written out of the history books, their culture, achievements and lives are seen as less important than men’s. Such a perspective was a motivating force in the creation of the Feminist Archive, and the Women’s (formerly Fawcett) Library in London.

Such facts beg the question: how do we archive the present? How do we ensure that online 21st century feminist activism is documented in a secure way? How do we collect records of a movement as it is happening now, what do we remember, and what do we forget?

As part of the evening we will create a timeline of 21st century Bristol feminist activism, hear from experienced archivists and conduct live oral histories.

If you have participated in feminist activism in Bristol in the 21st century and have fliers or ephemera that you would like to deposit in the Feminist Archive South, please bring it along.

Join us for this important conversation! If you want to be part of history, you gotta make it!!

All welcome, please share!

Frankie Armstrong workshop – Saturday 6 July, 1-5pm

On Saturday 6 July we are delighted to welcome folk legend Frankie Armstrong to Bristol to explore the history of women’s folk music.

Alongside Peggy Seeger, Sandra Kerr, Alison McMorland and Kathy Henderson, Frankie produced two albums of women’s folk music, The Female Frolic (1968) and My Song is My Own (1980). There is also the book My Song is My Own (1979), which documents 100 women’s songs.

my-song-is-my-own-cover_1The workshop will comprise of a live oral history that will explore how Frankie helped to research and collect the legacy of women’s folk traditions. This will be followed by a singing session led by Frankie. Not to be missed!

You can listen to Frankie talk about her influences here:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/90177447″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

What about this for a pro-choice anthem as well! ‘We Must Choose’ (Armstrong).

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/96379464″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

 

Feminist Archive South Workshops in June

June is a busy month for Feminist Archive South workshops. We have three taking place, all of which are happening at MShed in Bristol. They are free to attend, all welcome and there are participation bursaries available if you need expenses covered to come along. Hope to see you there!

Sunday 9th June – 1 to 5pm

Bristol: Voices from the Women’s Liberation Movement facilitated by June Hannam and Kath Holden from the  West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network.

Most women took part in ‘second wave feminism’ at a grass roots, local level. How do we find out why they became involved and what they hoped to achieve? Can we recover their voices and, if we do, how can we interpret them?

This workshop will look at different ways that historians can try to recover women’s voices. The first part will look at documentary evidence, including newsletters, pamphlets and photographs. The second part will focus on oral testimony: participants will be invited to compare  summaries, full transcripts and original recordings of interviews.  The workshop will explore memory and the ways in which participants construct different stories of the movements in which they took part.

June Hannam is an emeritus professor and Kath Holden a visiting research fellow in history at the University of the West of England. They are co-chairs of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network. They both have research interests in  gender history. June Hannam specialises in labour and feminist history and Kath Holden in oral history and history of the family.

Recent publications include Katherine Holden: The Shadow of Marriage: Singleness in England, 1914-1960 (2007) and June HannamFeminism (2012).

Tuesday 18th June – 7 to 9.30pm

Film Showings & collective listening to songs by women inspired by anti-nuclear activism followed by discussion.

Carry Greenham Home (1983)

‘Director Beeban Kidron was so committed to making this 1983 film – she was attending the National Film and Television School at the time – that she lived at the site herself for more than seven months.

Shot almost entirely on videoCarry Greenham Home‘s depiction of the women involved in the peace movement contrasts greatly with media portraits of the time, and the subsequent collective memory.

The film gives a fuller picture of what life was like than the fragmented news reports. It covers the processes underlying the women’s decisions, the influence of outside forces, and the verve and style with which they developed their own brand of non-violent direct action.’ Notes by Charlotte Cooper.

Don’t Trust Menwith Balls (1995)  

A film about Menwith Women’s Peace Camp.

Thursday 27th June – 7 to 9.30pm

Archiving contemporary feminist activism with the Bristol Feminist Network.

Feminists and women’s rights activists have often made a strong connection between history and social change. Simply put, when women are written out of the history books, their culture, achievements and lives are seen as less important than men’s. Such a perspective was a motivating force in the creation of the Feminist Archive, and the Women’s (formerly Fawcett) Library in London.

Such facts beg the question: how do we archive the present? How do we ensure that online 21st century feminist activism is documented in a secure way? How do we collect records of a movement as it is happening now, what do we remember, and what do we forget?

As part of the evening we will create a timeline of 21st century Bristol feminist activism, hear from experienced archivists and conduct live oral histories.

Join us for this important conversation! If you want to be part of history, you gotta make it!!

Ellen Malos & Germain Greer on Women and Waugh – This Thursday, 7pm @ MShed

The next Feminist Archive South workshop in this Thursday, 23 May, 7pm at MShed.

We will be watching a TV programme featuring Ellen Malos and Germaine Greer, who appeared on the discussion show Women and Waugh in 1984.

Ellen on Women and Waugh

The programme is fascinating not only for the issues the women discuss, but also for how Germaine and Ellen subvert how women are set up against each other in discussion shows as a form of public entertainment – the name of the programme itself is a pun on this, presumably!

Ellen and Waugh

The programme is also worth seeing for the sheer range of facial expressions Germaine Greer pulls, contrasted with the demure intelligence of Ellen.

Germaine Greer

Join us! Its free to attend, all welcome, and we will have a discussion about the issues raised in the film afterwards.