Tag Archives: Storage

Sistershow materials catalogued and searchable

The materials from the Heritage Lottery Funded Sistershow Revisited project, which took place from 2010-2011, have now been catalogued and are searchable on the University of Bristol’s Archive Catalogue. They bear the reference ‘DM2606 Sistershow Revisited’.

Two women sit under a giant hat, one pulls a funny face, both look mischeivous

Pat VT West & Jackie Thrupp sit together under a giant hat that was made by Jackie for the first Sistershow performance in March 1973

In the meantime, enjoy these photos that we digitised as part of the project:

A party scene in a house, women dance dressed up in clothing from the 1930s and 1940s

The figure dressed in red satin is Alison Rook, who donated a large archive for the exhibition, and was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.

Two women lay a wreath at the war memorial in the centre of Bristol in memory of women who had died from illegal abortions

Part of Helen Taylor and Brenda Jacques tape slide project that was used to raise awareness between women/ feminist groups about the activities and ideas behind women’s liberation

Two women stand either side of a person dressed in a suit, wearing a face mask

One of the few photographic documents of the Sistershow performances. This is the first show, that took place at Bower Ashton. Note the degradation of the image.

We still have catalogues from the exhibition available and you can get one for a small donation.

Final Stop for Ellen’s Archives

The final stage of the Ellen Malos’ Archives project – a trip to Bristol University’s Special Collection store to deposit the catalogued items.

Boxes in the back of a van

Sarah, project archivist, stands in front of archive boxes on a shelf

Sarah stands in front of her handy work

Books on a shelf including titles by Susan Griffin and Janice Raymond

Two shelves of box files

Shelf of box files labelled 'Pat VT West'

A shelf of periodicals Books including Janet Frame and Zoe Fairbairns

Don’t forget, Ellen’s archives are available to consult so do get in touch if you want to see them. As always, you will need to plan your trip in advance to ensure the items you want can be retrieved from store.

Archiving Update – May/ June

Here is archivist Sarah Cuthill’s update for May/ June….

The archive is taking shape. Following the survey at Ellen’s, I had to weed duplicates and non-relevant material from the boxes. This takes up a lot of table and floor space! The archive shadowers came to four sessions in May and June and contributed to the next stage of the work, arranging the material into categories. With a personal archive such as this, some of the arrangement is straightforward; some can be a little less obvious.

The ‘shadows’ worked on Women’s Aid, NAFE, Women’s Liberation Movement, and History papers. For them the breadth of material seemed to be striking, and for me the opportunity to discuss the papers and to make collective decisions was definitely useful. We began to transfer the archive into more appropriate housing, using acid-free four-flap folders and records management boxes.

On June 27th there was a chance to talk briefly about the work in progress at one of the Feminist Archive South workshops. By the end of June the arranging was nearly done, and I was using my initial lists to describe the individual folders. The need for detail varies from collection to collection, but this can be revised in the next stage of the job, which will be inputting on the CALM system at Special Collections.

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.

The secret life of the archive

Ever wanted to know about the secret life of the Feminist Archive South? About where all the information that has been lovingly collected is kept?

These photos were taken by our archive detective in Special Collections, and allow us to see part of the story.

the boxes 4 the boxes 1 the boxes 3

The material in the Feminist Archive South are kept in storage a few miles away from Special Collections at Bristol University.

If you want to view items in the collection you need to order them, and they can take a week to be retrieved from storage.

While we want to make the Feminist Archive South as accessible as possible, you can see there are limitations on how quickly we can get the material.

In the next few months we will work hard at getting as much of the catalogue online so it will be easier for people to order items and plan their visit.

Even though the FAS moved to Bristol University in 2009, like moving house, transitions can be stressful and take a long time (particularly if you have loads of stuff!)

We are starting to make progress, and the recent HLF grant provides us with vital resources to do this work.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos!

the boxes 8 the boxes 2 the boxes 7 the boxes 10

the boxes 11

the boxes 15