Sisterhood and After: UK Women's Liberation Movement archived for International Women’s Day

By Culture24 Reporter | 04 March 2013

A unique oral history archive of stories of women involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement is being launched for International Women's Day.

a photo of a billboard poster advertising a Fiat car with the words: "if it were a lady it would get its bottom pinched," and graffiti saying "if this lady was a car she'd run you down".
© Jill Posener
The archive, called Sisterhood & After, has been developed by the British Library in partnership with the University of Sussex and The Women’s Library.

It will be launched on March 8, collating the diverse experiences of women involved in a range of pivotal movements including feminist magazine Spare Rib, the Greenham Common protest and the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights’ movement.

Sixty women have taken part in the project so far, ranging from well-known figures such as Susie Orbach, the author of Fat is a Feminist Issue, to Betty Cook, a miner’s wife who became politicised during the miner strike, forming Women Against Pit Closures.

They feature in sound and video recordings backed by contextual information, with a selection of them launched in a new learning website. More than 350 hours of unedited recordings from the archive will be available in the reading rooms of the British Library.

Dr Margaretta Jolly, a Reader in Cultural Studies at the university, said an oral history archive “lends itself perfectly" to the nature of the Women’s Liberation Movement, capturing the diverse and wide-ranging thoughts and experiences of the women themselves rather than the official history”.

“By listening to the oral histories we are able to hear first-hand the stories of these women," she added.

"We hope to bring the history of the Movement to a new generation of young people for whom these debates and issues still resonate today.”

The archive, which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and developed during the past four years in response to demand from the activists themselves, hopes to continue adding voices and stories over time.

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