Spare Rib map

If you’re on this page, the chances are you’ve heard of the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM). But have you ever wondered exactly what the movement was? Where it happened, how it happened, what kind of places and events made it a real, living, breathing network for women across the best part of two decades? This map, the first digital resource of its kind, is here to help answer those questions and many more. It has been created by The Business of Women’s Words project, a research partnership between the British Library and the Universities of Cambridge and Sussex, funded by The Leverhulme Trust.

The Spare Rib map makes visible the extensive network of ‘second-wave’ feminist activity that took place across the UK from the 1970s through to the early 1990s. The map is based on a data sample of letters and listings taken from Spare Rib (1972-1993), Britain’s longest-running feminist magazine. The sample is made up of about 8% of the magazine’s listings and about 24% of its letters – so it gives only a slice of all the activity that flowered in this period. For more detail about how this sample was chosen, go to Mapping Spare Rib: How and Why.

To learn how to use the map, go to the Guide to Using the Spare Rib Map.

Open a full screen version of the map.


A brief how-to

There are four different ways to navigate the Spare Rib map: by using the filters (located on the left-hand side), the zoom function (top left), the keyword search (top right, scroll to view all results) and the time-slider (enable/disable by clicking the clock icon on the left hand side). You might want to start by zooming in on a location that is of interest to you, for example Manchester:

Zoom of Manchester

The spiral of icons that fan out when you click on the numbered circle above Manchester all correspond to different categories which are explained in full in the legend (bottom right). When you click on an icon, the pop-up box indicates the categories (there are often more than one – here there are two) assigned to that letter or listing, as well as providing a short description of each entry.

Zoom of Swansea

You can also filter by category, for e.g. ‘Business & Finance’. For a more detailed explanation of how to use the map’s search functions, please see the Guide to Using the Spare Rib Map.

For additional, more in-depth discussion of how to use the Spare Rib map, there are a number of short articles you can read. These include: ‘Listings and the feminist marketplace in Spare Rib’ by Zoe Strimpel; ‘Mapping provincial feminisms’, by Lucy Delap and Eleanor Careless; and ‘Girls are powerful: Young feminists’ letters to Spare Rib’ by Eleanor Careless.