Tag Archives: Archive

Archive Workshops – Now Full!

Due to a fantastic response to the call for participants for the archivist shadowing workshops, all the places are now full!

Thanks to all who have booked a place and expressed interest – its really encouraging to know that there is an audience and need for these activities, it helps us for future funding bids.

Big apologies though to anyone who has missed out – we promise to run similar programmes in the future.

Archivist Shadowing Workshops – Call for Participants

Ever wanted to know how an archivist catalogues a large collection?

The Feminist Archive South is offering a unique opportunity for people to shadow the project archivist as she catalogues Ellen Malos’ collection.

Ellen Malos was a key figure in the Bristol Women’s Liberation Movement. The first Women’s Centre opened in the basement of her house in 1973, and her work supporting vulnerable women has been recognised through an Honoury Doctorate at Bristol University (2006), and in the naming of the Next Link Women’s Safe House, ‘Ellen Malos House’ (12 June 2007). Ellen’s archive comprises rare historical material, including documents that have shaped some of the most significant legal and policy transformations within British history relating to gender quality.

You can attend up to four sessions with the archivist, and they will take place during weekdays in the day-time. You do not have to attend all sessions – although if you want to, this is also fine!

This is a great chance to informally learn the skills, practices and knowledge required to do archival work. You also get the chance to look at a load of interesting material about feminist history!

Even if you do not want to pursue archiving as a career, these activities will be relevant to people interested in the history of gender equality, in particular activism relating to women’s aid and violence against women.

Sessions will take place from April-June 2013. Please contact us to arrange a session.

Participation bursaries are available to cover things like childcare, travel and accommodation costs (if coming from outside of Bristol). Please let us know about this when you make an enquiry.

Greenham Materials

This week we were visited by Conni Rosewarne who is filming parts of the archive for her third year university project.

Conni was particularly interested in material relating to Greenham Common, as both her grandmother and mother protested at the camp. Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, established in Sept 1981, was a protest against the presence of nuclear cruise missiles on British land. Missiles were removed from the camp in 1991, but women still protested there until 2000. For more information about the camp, please visit here and here.

Piece of the Greenham Fence - green wire on a white background

             Part of fence at Greenham Common

This photo is a piece of the fence, which women used to cut into during actions.

Triangular shawl with different coloured webs sewn together

Shawl collectively made by women at Greenham   Common

This photo is of a collectively made shawl by Greenham Women which depicts a number of spider webs sewn together. Before the world wide web connected people across the world, women at Greenham used the metaphor of a spiders web to imagine global connections between peace activists.

Picture of the wire and shawl together

Conni films the shawl and piece of the fence, which are placed on the table in Special Collections at Bristol University

Brighton University Student Conni Rosewarne films the shawl and piece of the fence for her university project

Conni in action! She has promised to send us her film when it has been made – so watch this space!

Another picture of the fence from a different angle

                     The fence, from a different angle

Another close-up of the fence – a highly emotive part of our collection. If you want to see some amazing pictures of Greenham, visit Cary Welling‘s site.

Workshop this Tuesday 16 April and other information

This week is the beginning of the Feminist Archive South’s workshop programme. The first workshop is taking place this Tuesday 16 April 7-9.30 pm at MShed. All welcome but please contact us to let us know you are coming! 

Program for Women's Liberation first read at the Ruskin Conference in 1970 - one of the items we will be looking at in the workshop

Program for Women’s Liberation first read at the Ruskin Conference in 1970 – one of the items we will be looking at in the workshop

We’ve also updated information about the workshop sessions taking place later in the year…..

  • Sunday 12th May – 1 to 5pm – We are joined by Hannah Little, ex-archivist at the Glasgow Women’s Library to explore the art and science of archiving.
  • Thursday 23rd May – 7 to 9.30pm – Focus on the content of Ellen Malos’ archives.
  • Tuesday 18th June – 7 to 9.30pm – Exploring the Feminist Archive South’s Greenham Common archive.
  • Thursday 27th June – 7 to 9.30pm – The Bristol Feminist Network will help us to explore the continuities and difference between contemporary campaigns and the activism of the Women’s Liberation Movement.
  • Saturday 6th July – 1 to 5pm – Folk legend and co-author of My Song is My Own Frankie Armstrong will talk about the process of recovering women’s musical folk traditions. Followed by a good old feminist singalong!
  • Saturday 20th July – 1 to 5pm – Special Focus on the history of Women’s Aid in Bristol. Ellen Malos, Gill Hague, Nicola Harwin and others will facilitate this special session on the development of Women’s Aid.

Work on cataloging Ellen’s archive begins!

This week the work to catalogue Ellen’s archives have begun in earnest. Here a few photos from the very early stages. As you can see, Ellen is already fairly organised, and has over the years cannily used washing powder boxes as a file storage solution.

Box Files Housework Book Files Womens Aid

Ellen was also showing off some of the banners for campaigns and groups she was involved in, including this rather fetching sash.

Womans Right to Choose

DSC00071 copy

If you want to get involved and help the project archivist organise the material, please contact us. Its a great opportunity to learn how a collection is catalogued, and you get some hands on experience doing the work. We are particularly looking for people to get stuck in now, so don’t hesitate if you are interested!

Ellen's BAdges copy


Feminist and Women’s Archives in the UK: Profile No. 1 – Black Cultural Archives

Have you ever felt confused about where to go to research feminist and women’s history in the UK? Like you had a feeling there are specialist libraries and archives, but you aren’t sure which ones to go to, or when to go because opening hours can be limited?

Its true that many archives and libraries are in a precarious position, largely due to a lack of funds to support this crucial part of the UK’s cultural heritage. This often means that opening hours can be limited, or access restricted. The Women’s Library in London is currently moving to LSE and of course our own archive is still adjusting to our move to Bristol University – and that was almost four years ago!

In this new feature on the Feminist Archive South website, we have contacted curators and archivists based at the main feminist archives in the UK, or in other specialist archives which have prominent collections relating women’s activism.

We want to get a picture of the current archive/ library landscape, and learn about the challenges these institutions are facing, and what hopes they have for the future.

The first person to get back to us was Hannah Ishmael, Assistant Archivist at the Black Cultural Archives in London. Thanks Hannah for getting the ball rolling!

1. What is the name of your collection, and where is it based? 

Black Cultural Archives, based at 1 Othello Close, Kennington. We will be moving to Windrush Square, Brixton in 2014.

Newsletter of Organisation of African and Asian Descent. Picture of three young black children with the caption 'black kids who cares?'

Front cover of Fowaad, the newsletter of OWAAD. Please credit: Ref. DADZIE/1/8/1 (c) Stella Dadzie, available at Black Cultural Archives.

2. If I wanted to access the collection, what would I need to do (when is it open, etc)?

We are open every Wednesday, from 10:00-16:30, by appointment. Please email the reading room, archives@bcaheritage.org.uk for more information.

3. What type of things are collected in the BCA related to the black women’s movement, and black women from 19th Century to the present day?

We have a number of collections relating to the Black women’s movement. One of the most used collections is the oral histories of the Black women’s movement from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The collection contains 36 interviews with women from a range of backgrounds, but who were active in the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD) that was an umbrella organisation for a number of other Black women’s groups.

We also have the papers of Stella Dadzie, co-author of The Heart of the Race, relating to her work with OWAAD and her student activities; a small collection of the papers of Suzanne Scafe, another co-author of the Heart of the Race, and the papers of Jan Mckenley another key activist.

Finally, we have the papers of the Runnymede Trust, a race relations think tank which contains a number of research files relating to issues facing ethnic minorities, and women.

4. Do you have a favourite part of the collection, and why?

Although I find all of the collections fascinating, I do enjoy listening to the oral histories. They offer a rare chance to listen to women exploring their identity and history, and to give a more human voice to the struggles of women.

Poster for an exhibition about images of black women in Feb 1986

Ephemera/36/53 (c) Black Cultural Archives

5. What are the plans for the collection in the future?

We are continuing to collect a wide variety of material, to build our collections and to be able to fully present the contributions Black people have made to the culture, society and heritage of the UK.

6. Anything else you want to say about your activities?

The opening exhibition for Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, will be focusing on the Black women’s movement, and taking the book ‘The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain’ (1985) as the inspiration.


If you are part of an archive, library or work in an archive relating to women’s history and want to be featured on this website, please get in touch. You can answer the six questions above, and please send us 1-2 photos as illustration.

What’s in the Archive?

In the next 8 months and beyond, we will be using this blog to showcase the FAS collections that have been fairly underused since we moved to Special Collections at Bristol University in 2009.

At the moment we are looking through the collections in order to select material for the first workshop that will take place at MShed on Tuesday, 16 April from 7-9.30pm.

As Ellen’s archives have been the inspiration for this project, we couldn’t resist sharing this interview with her from Bristol University’s magazine, Nonesuch in 2002. The article also includes some of the imagery from the archive.

nonesuch spring 2002 ellen malos 601nonesuch spring 2002 ellen malos 602

 nonesuch spring 2002 ellen malos 603

Revealing Stories – OutStories Exhibition

Its the last week you can see the Bristol-based LGBT history group Outstories’ exhibition Revealing Stories, which is being displayed at MShed.

Revealing Stories is part of LGBT history month and tells the (sometimes hidden) histories of LGBT people and communities in Bristol and the South West.

It also includes a number of artefacts from the Feminist Archive South, such as the Bristol Lesbian Line Banner below, and copies of Move, the local lesbian publication from the 1970s.

Fabric banner with letters 'Bristol Lesbian Line' and a phone number.

The exhibition is a fantastic achievement and a valuable tool to educate people who may not know about the experience of LGBT people.

It is moving and lovingly constructed, and will no doubt help contribute to the gradual de-stigmatisation of LGBT people in Bristol, and beyond. Well done Outstories!

Go see it before it is gone!

Feminist Archive South – dates for your diary

As part of the Heritage Lottery project we are holding 8 workshops related to Ellen Malos’ archives and the holdings of the Feminist Archive South. These workshops are free to attend and open to everybody.

The workshops will be an opportunity to explore archive materials and learn about feminist history along the way.

You don’t have to have any prior experience or knowledge (but if you do this is also fine!) We want to create a space where people can bring their own experiences and knowledge to explore what these archives mean today.

We will post more information about the workshops soon, including information on how to book a place. All workshops will be taking place at MShed, the people’s history museum in the centre of Bristol.

A lot of the workshop content will be decided on by participants – we want you to explore the treasure trove that is the Feminist Archive South and learn about what matters to you. You may have a passion for feminist media or Greenham Common peace camp, for example. Or you may want to learn about the campaign for equal pay, the struggle for abortion rights, anti-imperialism, or how feminists used the arts to agitate and inspire.

This is an opportunity to delve deeper into the heritage of an inspirational, revolutionary, challenging and complex social movement, the struggles of which are still being played out today.

In the first workshop on Tuesday 16th April we will explore the question ‘What is an Archive?’ to get us going on our journey. Hope to see you there!

Here is a list of dates of the other workshops.

Sunday 12th May – 1 to 5pm

Thursday 23rd May – 7 to 9.30pm

Sunday 9th June – 1 to 5pm

Tuesday 18th June – 7 to 9.30pm

Thursday 27th June – 7 to 9.30pm

Saturday 6th July – 1 to 5pm

Saturday 20th July – 1 to 5pm