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Women and gender studies: Oral history

A brief guide to Oral history and other first-hand accounts of women held by the British Library. It is a select list only, and some databases will only be available if you are in a subscribing institution.



Oral Histories

Databases/ Web pages


*Agosin, Marjorie. Uncertain travelers: conversations with Jewish women immigrants to America. 
Hanover, N.H.; London: University Press of New England, 1999.
*Clarke, Patricia & Dale Spender. Life lines, Australian women's letters and diaries, 1788-1840. 
St. Leonards. N.S.W. : Allen & Unwin, 1997.
Cline, Cheryl. Women's diaries, journals, and letters, an annotated bibliography.
New York; London: Garland, 1989.
HLR920. 72
Day in, day out, memories of North Manchester from women in Monsall Hospital.
Manchester: Gatehouse Project, 1988.
*Doing our bit, New Zealand women tell their stories of World War Two. Edited by Jim Sullivan. 
Auckland: Harper Collins publishers, 2002.
Generations of memories, voices of Jewish women. Jewish Women in London Group. Includes bibliography. 
London: Women's Press, 1989.
Gluck, Sherna Berger & Patai, Daphne. (eds.) Women's words, the feminist practice of oral history. Includes index.
New York, London: Routledge, 1991.
*Harvey, Brett. The fifties, a women's oral history. 
London: HarperCollins, 1993.
Horsbrugh-Porter, Anna. (ed.) Memories of revolution, Russian women remember. Interviews by Elena Snow and Frances Welch. 
London: Routledge, 1993.
Davis, Gwen & Joyce, Beverley. (compilers). Personal writings by women to 1990, a bibliography of American & British writers. 
London: Mansell, 1989.
Inventing ourselves, lesbian life stories. Hall Carpenter Archives Lesbian Oral History Group. 
London: Routledge, 1989.
*Last, Nella. Nella's last war, a mother's diary, 1939-45. Edited by Richard Broad and Suzie Fleming. 
London: Sphere, 1983, c1981.
McCook, Kathleen de la Pe:na. Women of color in librarianship, an oral history.
Chicago: American Library Association, 1998.
Padel, Una & Stevenson, Prue. (compilers). Insiders, women's experience of prison.
London: Virago, 1988.
Roberts, Elizabeth. A woman's place, an oral history of working-class women 1890-1940. Includes index.
Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984.
HUS305. 562082092241
Smith, Anne. Women remember, an oral history. London: Routledge, 1989.
Summerfield, Penny. Reconstructing women's wartime lives, discourse and subjectivity in oral histories of the Second World War.
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998
The times of our lives, Women in Medway, Vol. 1, from 1900 - 1939; Vol. 2, from 1939.
A collection of memoirs and experiences. Gillingham: AIM Publications,1989.
*Women's language and experience, 1500-1940, women's diaries and related sources.
- Part 1: Sources from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Record Offices. Marlborough: Adam Matthew, 1996-
- Part 2: Sources from Birmingham Central Library and Birmingham University library. Marlborough: Adam Matthew, 1996
- Part 3: Sources from Suffolk County Record Office and Cambridge University Library, a listing and guide to part 3 of the microfilm collection. Marlborough: Adam Matthew, 1999
- Part 4: Sources from the National library of Scotland and the National library of Wales



Oral Histories

The Oral History Collections of the Sound Archive contain a large and interesting selection of unpublished material which deals with women's issues. The Fawcett Society Interviews (C468) and Leaders of National Life (C408) offer in-depth interviews with many prominent and influential women in British society. 

Artists' Lives (C466), 
Architects' Lives (C467), 
Oral History of British Photography (C459)  
Crafts Lives (C960) contain interviews with women who are active and highly successful in each of these fields. 

Work-related issues can be explored through collections such as 
City Lives (C409); 
Royal College of Nursing History Group Interviews (C545); 
Wellcome Trust Oral History of General Practice 1935-52, (C648); 
Weinberger Police Interviews (C684); 
Kay Foster Gulf War Recordings (C752) 
the Oral History of Prostitution (C803), 
Interviews with Nuns (C899); 
Royal Opera House Sound Archive (C915); 
Lives in the Oil Industry (C963); 
Oral History of the Circus (C966); 
Wesleyan Deaconesses interviews (C973); 
An Oral History of the Post Office (C1007); 
Oral History of Wolff Olins (C1015). 

Several other collections deal specifically with issues of sexuality and women's health: 
HIV/AIDS Testimonies (C743); 
The Hall-Carpenter Oral History Archive (C456); 
Labour of Love and Forbidden Britain (both C590); 
Changes in Childbirth (C643) Changes in Birth Control (C644); 
On the Edge of Later Life (C650); 
Mental Health Testimony Archive (C905); 
Multiple Sclerosis interviews (C949) 
Changing Society - The Oral History of Scope (formerly the Spastics Society) (C984). 

Women's political activism is explored through collections such as the 
Jean Taylor Interviews (C721), which contain interviews with Greenham Common protesters; 
Margot Farnham Women's Liberation Movement Collection (C546), 
Labour Oral History Project (C609), 
Communist Party Library and Archive Recordings (C613) 
Women Conscientious Objectors (C880). 

The following include the oral testimonies of women 
Cold Water Swimmers (C987) 
Women and the English Country House (C1008)
The Millennium Memory Bank (C900)This collection holds around 6000 interviews and provides a 'snapshot' of ordinary lives in the UK at the end of the millennium, it holds much information about women's lives in the 20th century. 
These interviews and many more are accessible through CADENSA, the Sound Archive's on-line catalogue.


Databases/ Web pages

Glasgow Women's Suffrage Movement, 1902-1933
Part of the British Online Archives database. The records of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Society for Women's Suffrage cover the organisation and achievements of a non-militant suffrage society. The movement was essentially a child of the Scottish Council for Women's Trades. These papers on suffrage are also unusual in that they are not written from a London viewpoint and their coverage extends beyond the dissolution of many of the more militant societies in 1918.
British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries 1500-1950
Includes the immediate experiences of approximately 500 women. It is the largest collection of British and Irish women's diaries and correspondence ever assembled. Spanning more than 300 years, it brings the personal experiences of female researchers, students, and general readers.

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