The Sisterhood and After website is part of a wider Leverhulme Trust funded project whose aim is to create an original and extensive oral history archive of the lives of feminist change-makers of the 1970s and ‘80s. The archive provides the resources for new studies of this important social movement and its legacy, capturing the voices of a unique generation before it is too late.
The project took three years. First, we researched existing studies of the movement, including identifying other oral histories. We consulted on how to select and find interviewees. We were particularly pleased to build upon the results of the Leverhulme Trust-funded Women's Liberation Movement Network at The Women's Library from 2008-9, which archived the results of six ‘witness workshops’ across Britain. Second, we undertook the long and fascinating interviews, often involving extensive negotiation with our interviewees. We asked our interviewees about their role in key campaigns and ideas, their own experiments with personal and political relationships, their experiences of adolescence, bodily life and identity, and their views on the diversity of movements across and within the four nations of the UK. We asked them how their lives compared with those of their mothers: the responses were often surprising.
The recorded interviews are, on average, seven hours long. We have followed the British Library’s methods for making interviews accessible by providing detailed summaries and transcripts. To further animate the stories, we have commissioned ten documentary films on subjects ranging from protests in Belfast to mending a roof in Todmorden. We have also drawn from another oral history project, led by Dr Lucy Delap ‘Unbecoming Men: Masculinities and the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1970-1985’. We have featured recordings from this project in Who We Were, Who We Are.
This website, and the oral history behind it, captures only a fragment of a living archive that we hope will grow at the British Library and elsewhere. We’ve aimed to represent a diverse range of voices, reflecting the multifaceted nature of the Women’s Liberation Movement.
Further details about the project outcomes, publications and partners can be found here.
You can read more about the researchers and staff involved in this project below.
The project is directed by researchers who are expert in the history of contemporary feminism and narrative life methods. It was curated by the British Library Social Science Team.
Dr Margaretta Jolly
Margaretta Jolly is the project’s award holder and the project director. She is Reader in Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex. Margaretta’s main interests are the art and use of life narrative and feminist cultures and histories. Her book In Love and Struggle: Letters in Contemporary Feminism, was joint winner of the Feminist and Women's Studies Association UK book prize, 2008, and she co-directs the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research.
Dr Polly Russell
Polly Russell is a Lead Curator in the Social Science department at the British Library. Polly is responsible for collections relating to Human Geography and Anthropology and her research interests include feminism, oral history and food. She was the main British Library link for the project, working closely with the project team and library colleagues.
Dr Rachel Cohen
Rachel Cohen is the Research Fellow for this project. She was the Facilitator of the Women's Liberation Movement Network at The Women's Library from 2008-9. Her research focuses on the British and American women's liberation movements and cultural difference. Rachel was responsible for researching and interviewing and creating and organising the project's interviewee catalogue records.
Lizzie Thynne is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex. Lizzie combines film-making, teaching and writing and is the director and producer of the ten films commissioned for this project. She completed an experimental family biography, On the Border, in 2012. Her work on the surrealist photographer Claude Cahun has appeared in History of Photography, Papers of Surrealism and as a film Playing a Part (2005) which accompanied the recent touring show of the artist's work at the Jeu de Paume, Paris and La Virreina Centre De L'Image, Barcelona.
Peter Harte studied for a Masters in Creative Media Practice at the University of Sussex whilst working as the Archive Researcher and Editor on the 10 short films for Sisterhood and After. He specialises in filmmaking and digital media and has started a practice-based PhD researching the impact and empowerment potential of participatory media and the therapeutic nature of mediated practices.
Abi Barber is Web Content Developer for the British Library Learning Team. Her roles in this project have included writing and editing the web text, image research and coordinating with the wider research team.
Freya Johnson-Ross is a doctoral student at the University of Sussex. Freya is researching structure and organisation in the women's liberation movement, and feminist professional identities as they developed subsequently. She completed an MPhil at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies in 2010.
Dr Lucy Delap
Lucy Delap is a Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge, and fellow of Murray Edwards College. She works on the history of feminism, child sexual abuse, gender, labour and religion, and is currently working on men’s encounters with women’s liberation in the 1970s and 1980s. She published the prize-winning The Feminist Avant-Garde: Transatlantic Encounters of the early twentieth century in 2007, and Knowing Their Place: Domestic Service in Twentieth Century Britain in 2011. She directed History & Policy between 2012 and 2015.
Advisory Board and Project Support
No project of this magnitude can be accomplished without other assistance. Thanks go to the following:
A project Advisory Board provided invaluable advice on interviewee selection and recruitment. Members of the Advisory Board included: Professor Lynn Abrams, Department of History, University of Glasgow; Professor Sally Alexander, Department of History, Goldsmiths; Dr Lucy Bland, Department of History, London Metropolitan University; Dr Esther Breitenbach, Dept of History, Classics and Archeology, University of Edinburgh; Janet Browne, Anne-Marie Sandos, and Kelly Foster, Learning Managers, Black Cultural Archives; Mary Marshall Clark, Director of Columbia Oral History Research Office; Professor Kathy Davis, Senior Researcher, Institute of History and Culture, Utrecht University; Professor Heidi Mirza, Professor of Equality Studies in Education, Institute of Education, University of London; Ursula Owen, Director, The Free Word Centre; Professor Luisa Passerini, Dipartimento di Storia, Università di Torino; Dr. Rob Perks, Oral History Curator/Director of National Life Stories, British Library; Avril Rolph, Chair of Archif Menywod Cymru/Women’s Archive of Wales, former librarian at University of Swansea; Professor Barbara Taylor, Department of History, University of East London; Teresa Doherty, Special Collections Manager, The Women’s Library and Anna Towlson, Librarian, LSE; Professor Pat Thane, Leverhulme Professor of Contemporary British History, University of London; Dr Margaret Ward, Director of the Women’s Resource and Development Agency, Belfast.
Additional support from the project was provided by Susan Hutton, Susan Nicholls, Kerry Cable, Carolyn S Mumford, Claire Sissons and Bridget Lockyer.
Further Research: Links to Other Oral History Projects
Many other oral history projects have been and are being carried out around the world. In this section you can find out more about some of the projects, and link to their sites to explore further.
The Heart of the Race: Oral Histories of the Black Women's Movement
From December 2008 to March 2010 this project collected the testimonies of Black women involved in the movement for the rights of Black women, including activism, organising, campaigning and lobbying at a grassroots, national or international level. Themed around the pioneering Black British feminist book The Heart Of The Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain by Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie & Suzanne Scafe (Virago, 1985), which examined Black women's lives in Britain using oral testimony, it sought to interview the authors and original participants about their memories of the period and the impetus behind the book. Springing out from this, other women who were involved in the movement as documented by The Heart of the Race (or as not documented by it) were interviewed about their activist experiences. To date the project has collected 32 oral testimonies from women that were involved in the Black Women's Movement. You can find out more here.
This independent project is recording 700 groundbreaking companies that made up The Alternative Theatre Movement 60s-80s, including many feminist/sexual rights groups such as Monstrous Regiment, Clean Break and Gay Sweatshop. DVDs of the recordings and Topics Lists are deposited with: British Library Sound Archive; V&A Theatre Collections; Sheffield University. The Women’s Theatre 1970s and 1980s series is also housed with Bristol University Theatre Collection. You can find out more here.
Music & Liberation: Feminist Music-Making in the UK and Ireland, 1970-1989
Music & Liberation is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is based on the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, an online archive launched in May 2011 by Frankie Green and Dr Deborah Withers. You can find out more here.
Aletta Archive Oral History
Aletta is the major Dutch feminist archive and is in the process of creating a video archive of more than a hundred interviews, including the Dutch health movement and interviews about Dolle Mina, a Dutch feminist activist group that was founded in 1969.
Rembering Olive Morris Collective (ROC)
Do you remember Olive Morris? was a community art project seeking to bring to wider public attention the history of Brixton-based activist Olive Morris (1952-1979). In her short life, Olive Morris co-founded the Brixton Black Women’s Group and the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD) and was part of the British Black Panther Movement. She campaigned for access to education, decent living conditions for Black communities and fought against state and police repression. Despite dying at a young age, she empowered the people who lived and worked around her. In October 2009 ROC launched the Olive Morris Collection at Brixton Library. The collection comprises 30 oral history interviews with those who knew Olive and were involved in the political struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. It also holds Olive Morris personal papers and photographs, donated by Liz Obi. All the interviews were recorded and transcribed by ROC members, who also cataloged the collection. ROC members trained as oral historians, and on the basics of archiving and cataloging at Lambeth Archives, where the Olive Morris Collection is now housed. If you would like to know more about the collection and how to access it, please contact Lambeth Archives directly. You can find out more about the ROC here.
Subverting Stereotypes: Asian Women’s Political Activism: A Comparison of the Grunwick and Gate Gourmet disputes
30 inteviews, of between 1.5 to 5 hours with Asian women workers involved in workplace struggles during the Grunwick strike in 1976-7 and the Gate Gourmet strike in 2005 were undertaken as part of an academic research project based at Leeds and Oxford universities and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The archive includes an interview with Jayaben Desai. These interviews are not open to the public at present but you can find out more about the project here. Further teachers' resources are available here and you can download the stories of two striking women in comic form here.
Personal Histories of the Second Wave of Feminism
In 2000-2003, the Feminist Archive South conducted a large oral history project that collected the personal memories of women who were involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement in Bristol. This project was HLF funded. You can find out more here and excerpts and summaries are available online here.
Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony (A LOT)
The Canadian-based Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony were founded in 2010. They digitize and make available online lesbian oral testimonies. Testimonies come in many forms; material in the Archives includes oral history audio tapes, radio and television program tapes, as well as video and film produced by documentary filmmakers, and home video and film. The archives and the web site are supported by and operate out of Simon Fraser University’s Library. Some of the original interview tapes are archived at Simon Fraser University, and some of the collections hosted here are housed in other archives. You can find out more here.
Unbecoming Men: Masculinities and the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1970-1985
Approximately 15 interviews with men who were involved with men's groups, men's periodicals, childcare projects, gay liberation, consciousness raising, critical masculinity studies, and activism around fathering. This project will be archived at the British Library. For more information, contact Lucy Delap at King's College London.
Interviews with women involved in the Miners' Strike 1984-1985
Topics: campaigning activity such as fund-raising, protest marches and meetings locally, in London and abroad; campaign songs; involvement in Women's Support Groups; relationships with and attitudes to feminist groups and the Women's Liberation Movement; national politics; Margaret Thatcher; Arthur Scargill; the unions; the police; picket lines; 'scabs' (non-strikers); public attitudes and media portrayal; family relationships; marriage; caring for children; movement out of the home sphere into the public arena; public speaking; female friendships; managing canteens; poverty.
Women's movement oral history of Birmingham
A women's oral history project in Birmingham, which will focus on the lives of women over four decades (70's-to date) who are, or were key, in shaping the grass roots women's movement in the city.
Interviews with women in Clapham in the Women's Liberation Movement
Interviews with members of Clapham Consciousness-Raising group with respect to its impact on personal life. For more information, contact Sue Bruley at the University of Portsmouth.
Feminist Webs volunteers in the North West of England interviewed feminist women about their lives and young women and girls' work. A number of the interviews and some 3-4 minute samples of the longer interviews are available online. If you are interested in hearing more contact the North West Sound Archive.
Voices of Feminism
The Voices of Feminism Oral History Project documents the persistence and diversity of organizing for women in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Narrators include labor, peace, and anti-racism activists; artists and writers; lesbian rights advocates; grassroots anti-violence and anti-poverty organizers; and women of color reproductive justice leaders. Interviews average 5-6 hours and cover childhood, personal life, and political work. You can find out more here.
Oral Evidence on the Suffragette and Suffragist Movements: the Brian Harrison interviews
1974-1981. The collection consists of 205 interviews available in digital audio file format and one folder of contextual material relating to the interviews, including essays and reports by Brian Harrison. The digital files are copies of the original oral history interview recordings that are held on reel-to-reel cassette. You can find out more here.
Trans* history project from Brighton's community publisher, QueenSpark Books, recording, in their own words, the lives and experiences of Brighton and Hove’s Transgender Community. You can find out more here.
Community-based research exploring LGBT2Q experiences of breast and gynecologic cancer health knowledge & support/care. You can find out more here.
China Women's & Gender Library Women's Oral History Project
Interviews with 100 Chinese feminists and women to explore women's social change in China, archived at The China Women's University Library, Beijing.
Women's Liberation in Scotland
Details the origins, development and impact of the Women's Liberation Movement (WLM) in Scotland c. 1968 - c. 1979. Using documentary sources and oral history interviews. For more information contact Sarah Browne at the University of Nottingham or explore her book here.
Feminist Archive North Oral History
Since 1995 archive volunteers have been carrying out oral history interviews with women involved in the WLM in Leeds and Bradford from 1969-1979. You can find out more here.
TUC Recording Women's History series
Explore the trade union struggle for equal pay through the eyes of participants - by industrial action (Ford, Dagenham) and the law courts (Julie Hayward, Belfast cleaners, Hull fish packers, speech therapists, Yorkshire Dinner Ladies). You can find out more here.
Bolton Women's Liberation History Project
Starting in 2008 interviews were conducted with seventeen women who were active in the group. Transcripts of the interviews and cds are available for study. See Contact Us page for links. An interactive cd.rom is available free of charge. HLF funded. Paper records of Bolton Women's Liberation (History) Group are at The Women's Library. You can find out more here.
The Suffragists Oral History Project
The Suffragists Oral History Project was designed to tape record interviews with the leaders of the woman's suffrage movement in order to document their activities in relation to passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and their continuing careers as leaders of movements for welfare and labor reform, world peace, and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Because the existing documentation of the suffrage struggle indicates a need for additional material on the campaign of the National Woman's Party, the contribution of this small but highly active group has been the major focus of the series. The project, underwritten by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, enabled the Regional Oral History Office to record first-hand accounts of this early period in the development of women's rights with twelve women representing both the leadership and the rank and file of the movement. Sherna Gluck undertook the interviews, 1972-09. You can find out more here.
Pioneers of Qualitative Social Research
British social research experienced an unprecedented flowering from the 1940s to the 1970s. Life story interviews with some of the most significant researchers who offered their research data were recorded, mainly by Paul Thompson, to explain the personal, social and intellectual context of the research. You can find out more here.
Welsh Women's Liberation Movement
Recorded under Avril Rolph's direction in the 1990s. You can find out more here.
The Trailblazing Women and the Law Project
100 oral history interviews with trailblazing women lawyers from across Australia, the profession and over several generations. Directed by Kim Rubenstein, Australian National University. You can find out more here and here.
The socio-cultural milieux of the post-war British Left
Celia Hughes' thesis examines the relationship between activist subjectivities and the shaping of Britain’s late sixties extra-parliamentary left cultures. Based on the oral narratives of ninety men and women, it traces the activist trajectory from child to adulthood to understand the social, psychological, and cultural processes informing the political and personal transformation of young adults within the new left cultures that emerged in the wake of Britain’s anti-war movement, the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC). For more information contact Celia Hughes at the University of Copenhagen.
The Imperial War Museum: Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp 1981-2000
Since the early 1990s the Sound Archive has been interviewing women who were living at, or involved with the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, as well as military personnel working inside the base. You can find out more here.
East End Women - Wakefield Trust Oral History Project
The archive consists of oral history material. In 2002 Kate Melvin was commissioned to carry out an oral history project by The Women's Library with funding provided by the Wakefield Trust. This project was to collect 30 oral histories of older women who lived in the neighbourhood of the Women's Library i.e. specifically in the electoral wards of Spitalfields and Banglatown, Whitechapel, Weavers and St Katherine's and Wapping. The interviewees were selected to represent the broad ethnic diversity in the area. You can find out more here.
Women’s Liberation and After in Nottingham (WOLAN)
Led by volunteers from the local community, Women’s Liberation and After in Nottingham (WOLAN) aims to preserve the archives as a resource for present and future generations. The project will use this resource and captured personal accounts of many women involved in the movement to construct a narrative of the diverse experiences of the women’s liberation movement in Nottingham. £47,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. You can find out more here.
Papers of Jean McCrindle, including records of Women Against Pit Closures
The archive consists of papers relating to Women Against Pit Closures and related campaigns at a national and local level including minutes, financial and administrative papers, correspondence, newsletters, press cuttings, photographs, audio and video tapes, posters, handbills and printed ephemera, and objects, including badges and mugs. The archive also includes extracts from Jean McCrindle's personal diaries during the period of the strike and collected pamphlets and books written by, or relating to, miners' wives.
An introduction to Feminist Oral History by the American Oral History Association
Includes sections: History of the Women's and Feminist Movement; Collecting Women's Oral History; Women's Oral History in Use; Methodology in Women's Oral History; Problems and Solutions to Methodology; Conclusion and Hopes for the Future; Bibliography for Feminist Oral History. You can find out more here.
Stories of Unsolved Relationships. The Italian feminist movement and political violence in Italy during the Seventies
Oral history based thesis on the Italian women's movement by Marilisa Malizia. You can find out more here.
Wirkungsanalyse der neuen Frauenbewegung, (WAFRA)
Project on the impact and outcomes of the women's movement in Switzerland, the Wirkungsanalyse der neuen Frauenbewegung, (WAFRA). For more information contact Kristina Schultz at the Unversity of Bern.
Woman to Woman: An Oral History of Rape Crisis in Scotland, 1976-1991
As the rape crisis movement in Scotland movement celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006, Rape Crisis Scotland decided to undertake an oral history project, and recorded a total of 33 interviews with women in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and further afield. You can find out more here .
The Millthorpe Project: Interviews with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Trade Unionists
10 oral history interviews carried out by the Millthorpe Project in 2008 and 2009. The project sought to illustrate how lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans trade unionists have sought to integrate these two key aspects into their personal and political lives. The interviews were carried out with support from the University and College Union (UCU) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC). You can find out more here.
The Hall-Carpenter Oral History Archive
A major collection of interviews relating to gay and lesbian experience in Britain. The original oral history project was established in 1985 as part of the Hall Carpenter Archive, which had been set up in 1982. After the closure of the Hall Carpenter Archive the written papers were given to the London School of Economics and the oral history collection, including correspondence and some transcripts, was donated to the National Sound Archive in 1989. You can find out more here.
Before Stonewall: a lesbian, gay and transgender oral history
A collection of VHS copies of interviews with members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered communities recalling their experiences from the years before 1969 and the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement. The Rainbow Television Collection of Gay/Lesbian Videos (catalogue no: C1041) is a collection of videos assembled by independent television company Rainbow Network with a view to re-broadcast, drawn from sources all over the world. You can find out more here.
The Martyn Taylor Collection
A collection of six oral history interviews conducted by the late Martyn Taylor relating to the history and experiences of older gay British men, mostly born in the second decade of the twentieth Century. You can find out more here.
The Tony Dean Gay Commercial Scene interviews
A collection of interviews about London's gay commercial club scene, in the 1960s to 1980s. You can find out more here.
The Philip Cox 'Gaywaves' Collection
Mainly off-air recordings made between 1979 and 1990, including recordings made in 1982-1983 for use in production of 'Gaywaves', the first British radio programme produced by and for gay men, broadcast from the pirate radio station 'Our Radio'. The collection includes many programmes relating to HIV and AIDS and gay and lesbian issues. You can find out more here.
The All Out Productions Collection
Recordings produced by All Out Productions between 1993-2000 for BBC Radio. The majority of the collection consists of the complete series of broadcasts 'Out this Week', a weekly, live programme that highlighted gay and lesbian issues and perspectives on the news. 'Out this Week' was broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live from 1994-1999. Also donated is the two-part documentary 'You can come out now': which explored the history of gay rights in Britain and was broadcast on Radio 4 in May 1998. The collection includes uncut interviews recorded during the production of the documentary. You can find out more here.
QMWC: Changes in birth control
A collection of interviews conducted by a group of women medical students from Queen Mary Westfield College in 1993. The study investigated changing attitudes to contraception in the light of the introduction of the contraceptive pill; the impact the Pill had on women's health and life; and changes in attitudes within the medical profession to contraception. You can find out more here.
Remember When: Edinburgh Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History
The RW project was an oral and community history project which documented the lives and achievements of Edinburgh's LGBT people, past and present. You can find out more here.
The Lara Marks contraceptive pill interviews
A collection of 53 recordings of interviews with or talks by scientists, medical practitioners and lay test participants involved in the development of the contraceptive pill, and two off-air recordings of radio broadcasts, recorded by Dr Lara Marks and her research assistants between 1994 and 1997. You can find out more here.
Interviews with women Leaders of National Life
The British Library National Life Stories project Leaders of National Life includes interviews with influential people in Britain, across the fields of politics, industry, the arts, sports, religion, the professions, administration and communications. Women whose voices are in the collection include: Lady Helen Brook, advocate of birth control and founder of the Brook organisation for sexual health advice and services to the under 25s; Dame Josephine Barnes, the first female consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at Charing Cross Hospital and the first female President of the British Medical Association; Betty Boothroyd, first female Speaker of the House of Commons; and Edwina Cowen, first woman Chief Commoner of the City of London. You can find out more here.
Interview with Jean McCrindle
Jean McCrindle was an early organiser in Women's Liberation Movement UK and prominent in supporting Women Against Pit Closures and women in the Miners' Strike 1984-5. Her interview is in the British Library National Life Stories Collection.
An Oral History of Prostitution
A series of interviews with sex workers and others involved in the sex industry. You can find out more here.
OurStory Scotland is a recognised Scottish Charity (SCIO) collecting, archiving and presenting the life stories and experiences of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) community in Scotland. You can find out more here.
Male Order: life stories from boys who sell sex
A collection of taped interviews which gave rise to the publication Male order: life stories from boys who sell sex by Barbara Gibson (London: Cassell, 1995). The subjects are four young men and two transsexuals who are or have been selling sex as a means of survival. You can find out more here.
The Hallam Nursing Interviews
A collection of interviews that document the arrival of women that came from Barbados to Britain to train as nurses in the 1950s. You can find out more here.
Royal College of Nursing History Group interviews
A collection of 35 interviews with nurses from World War One onwards talking about their nursing careers and experiences. You can find out more here.
Royal College of Nursing Oral History
In 2008 the RCN received heritage lottery funding under the My Heritage grant scheme to improve access to a vast collection of oral history interviews recorded with nurses over the last 20 years. More than 700 hours of recordings take you into the lives and experiences of individual nurses dating from the early 20th to the 21st centuries, through two world wars, breakthrough medical developments, the beginnings of the NHS and great social changes. You can find out more here.
The Kay Foster Gulf War recordings
Audio diaries of a major in the Royal Army Nursing Corps serving in the Gulf War 1990-91. You can find out more here.
Women working in traditionally male industries
Recordings of women's experiences of working in traditionally male industries feature in several of the British Library's National Life Stories projects: City Lives; Lives in the Oil Industry; Lives in Steel.
The Fawcett Collection
A National Life Stories collection of recordings funded by the Fawcett Society and the Friends of the Fawcett Library, which focuses on the lives of pioneering career women, each of whom made their mark in traditionally male-dominated areas such as politics, the law and medicine. You can find out more here.
The Blaze of the Day: The Suffragette Movement
A published CD compilation of oral history, speeches, and songs; recorded speeches by Margaret Grace Bondfield and Christabel Pankhurst. You can find out more here.
Woman’s Hour: Memories of the Suffragette Movement
Radio programme originally broadcast on the Light Programme in 1957. You can find out more here.
Daughters of Radical Suffragists
BBC Radio 4 broadcast is a copy of a 2002 radio broadcast made by Pennine Productions, compiled from oral history interviews recorded in the 1970s and 1980s. You can find out more here.
The Jean Taylor Interviews
This collection comprises location recordings with women protesters at Greenham Common nuclear base. You can find out more here.
The Women Conscientious Objectors
This collection comprises life story interviews with British women conscientious objectors from the Second World War, recorded by Rena Feld in 1997-8, in association with Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. You can find out more here.
Interviews with Animal Welfare activists
A collection of oral history interviews with people active in the animal welfare and animal rights movement in Britain, including the Hunt Saboteurs Association, Chickens Lib, RSPCA Reform Group, League Against Cruel Sports, Animal Liberation Front, Compassion in World Farming and other organisations campaigning against animal experimentation and maltreatment. You can find out more here.
The Harman-Shephard collection of interviews with women Members of Parliament
This collection comprises interviews with 83 female and 3 male Members of Parliament, most of whom entered the House of Commons at the 1997 general election. You can find out more here.
The Pascall Theatre Company: Mothers and Daughters - A Jewish Archive
This collection comprises 50 interviews with Jewish women of various ages and cultural backgrounds recorded by the Pascal Theatre Company in collaboration with the London Jewish Cultural Centre. The recordings were made as part of a film and exhibition entitled 'Jewish mothers and daughters: a personal history of the 20th century through 50 Jewish women's lives'. You can find out more here.
Irish Women Travellers
a collection of life story interviews with women from the Irish Traveller community. The recordings are part of an oral history research project undertaken by Sue Beck for an MSc in Public Health and Health Promotion at South Bank University, which explores the health of these women across generations and across the life span. You can find out more here.
The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies
The collection houses over 100,000 items in a wide variety of media. The collection is international in scope and has materials in approximately 58 languages. You can find out more here.
Interviews with three retired teaching nuns, conducted in 1998 as part of a research project. You can find out more here
Nurses’ Lives: The Oral History of Nurses
The oral history of nurses project captures the narrative history of three prestigious London hospitals from the perspective of its nurses and midwives. More than 300 interviews were generated for the project, featuring nurses and midwives who trained or worked between 1929 to 1990 at one of St George's Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital or St Bartholomew's Hospital. For more information, contact Professor Vari Drennan at Kingston University here
Wesleyan Deaconesses Interviews collection
Six interviews with members of the Wesleyan Deaconess Order who trained or served during the 1930s and 1940s. You can find out more here
The Mothers Union Recordings
Comprises recordings made between 1962 and 1998, and includes recordings of overseas conferences of the Mothers’ Union and teaching resources to promote discussion on issues such as teenagers and prayer.
Invisible Women’: Positively Women Oral History Project
A collection of 16 oral history interviews with women living with HIV; the interviews reveal how HIV has affected them socially, at work and in their family lives. The project was carried out by Positively UK as part of an HLF funded project in 2007 and 2008. You can find out more here
Women's Liberation in Bradford
A collection of nine oral history interviews with women involved in Bradford women's groups during the 1970s and 1980s. This small collection includes perspectives on the city's feminist health initiatives, gay rights activism, alternative theatre groups and race-relations. For more inforamation contact Bridget Lockyer
at the University of York.
ACT UP Oral History Project
The ACT UP Oral History Project is a collection of over 100 interviews with surviving members of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, New York. The project is coordinated by Jim Hubbard and Sarah Schulman, with camera work by James Wentzy (in New York) and (on the West Coast) S. Leo Chiang and Tracy Wares. A transcript of each interview is available in full PDF format. You can see five minute streaming video excerpts of each interview by clicking on the person's photograph. Unedited tapes of the interviews can be viewed at the San Francisco Main Library and the New York Public Library (5th Avenue and 42nd Street). You can find out more here
An Activist Life. Student Oral History Project.
Collection of life histories of women who have dedicated their lives to social and political activism. Interviews were conducted by Smith College students in Kelly Anderson’s Smith College course, Oral History and Women's Activism in the Fall of 2008. You can find out more here
Ten films were specially commissioned for this project. Film maker Lizzie Thynne directed and produced the films, which highlight key themes that were vital to the Women's Liberation Movement. You can access the films by clicking on the links below.
Zoë Fairbairns remembers her moment of epiphany after reading Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (1970) and realizing that she did not have to get married. She got involved in the ‘YBA Wife?' campaign and reveals her ongoing commitment to co-habitation and not going to weddings. 5′ 19″, 2011. Watch here
The Feelings Behind the Slogans, 1-4
Jan McKenley reflects on her personal experience of abortion and the importance of being able to grieve while upholding a woman’s right to choose. Jan’s experience led her to work for the National Abortion Campaign. She remembers too the importance of a women’s health group in allowing her to cherish her own body. 8′ in total, 2012. Watch part 1 here
. Watch part 2 here
. Watch part 3 here
. Watch part 4 here
From GLF to WLM
Mary McIntosh, sociologist and author of key papers and books such as The Homosexual Role
(1968) and The Anti-Social Family
(1982), recalls coming out in the 1960s. Moving from her early involvement in the Gay Liberation Front kiss-ins and protests against the commercial club scene, she describes her trip to the 1971 Women’s Liberation Conference at Skegness where the GLF women took decisive action to stop male activists running the show. 6′, 2011. Watch here
Return to Sender
In 1993 the Greenham women’s peace camp got US cruise missiles sent back home. But nuclear weapons are still being made in the UK. This short film follows Rebecca Johnson, still a tireless campaigner for disarmament, to the monthly women’s peace camp at Aldermaston and to the now tranquil common where the missiles were once installed. 7’43”, 2012. Watch here
Crossing the Divides
On 30 January 1972, a young student Bronagh Hinds, along with 20,000 other protestors travelled to Derry, Northern Ireland to march for civil rights. The event, which became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ after 26 people were shot by the British Army, spurred Bronagh’s deep commitment to equality. As a member of the inventive Women’s Coalition (1996-2006) Bronagh contributed to the 1998 Peace Agreement which brought an end to years of violent conflict in Ulster. 13’ 10”, 2012. Watch here
A look at the work of Barbara Jones, founder of the first women’s building company ‘Hilda’s Builders’ in the 1980s and now pioneer in sustainable straw bale construction. Barbara’s enthusiasm for the trade is boundless and her belief that women can do anything in a traditionally male occupation is inspiring. 6’10”, 2012. Watch here
In the Beginning We Demanded
In 1970 the first women’s liberation conference took place at Ruskin College, Oxford. It was the first of several national conferences in the UK which formulated the demands of the women’s movement and sparked the campaigns to make those demands – from equal wages to a woman’s right to choose – a reality. Director Sue Crockford made, A Woman’s Place
, an unique film about the event. She describes the excitement of this inaugural moment of modern feminism and the challenges of covering it. 6’ 28”, 2013. Watch here
A Safe House
Karen McMinn was one of the founders of Women’s Aid in Belfast, supporting victims of domestic violence. Karen highlights the challenges and achievements of this vital organization – working in a war zone, where men were often armed and police were reluctant to respond to calls from women in Republican areas. 6’49”, 2012. Watch here
A Democracy for Women
Women are still badly under-represented in politics. For instance, despite significant advances in the 1990s, under 25% of Westminster MPs are women. In 1980, the year after, Mrs Thatcher was elected Prime Minister only 4% of Parliament were women. Lesley Abdela, who had stood as a Liberal candidate, founded the 300 group to get 300 women into the Westminster parliament. Interwoven with glimpses of iconic women MPs from the past, Lesley relates the history and impact of the campaign and compares the situation in England with the relative advances of female politicians in the other UK nations and beyond. 6’16”, 2013. Watch here
Red Flannel: Liberating Women on Film
Michele Ryan was a member of one of the few women’s film co-operatives to exist in Britain – Red Flannel in Wales – funded by the unique workshop system established by Channel 4. She discusses the collaborative process of working on the film Mam (1988) about the history of women in the Welsh valleys, whose lives and work had been scarcely recorded until then. 4’44”, 2012. Watch here