FAS archive photo

Feminist Archive South

Feminist Archive South was set up by activists of the Women’s Liberation Movement 40 years ago in 1978.  They realized that they were amassing a valuable body of information and ideas and initially the archive was opened as a resource centre to give women the knowledge and power to take action in their own lives. Over time the archive grew and now tells the story of how activists struggled for gender equality in the period from 1969-2000.

Ten years ago the archive moved to the Special Collections in the Bristol University Library where is it cared for by our wonderful archivist Hannah Lowery and the special collections team. So, 2018 marks both a 40th and a 10th anniversary for the archive in this the centenary year of the vote for (some) women - good reasons for our celebratory project  Hatpins to Hashtags.

Alongside our partner archive based at the University of Leeds (FAN), The Feminist Archive South holds one of the most significant collections of women’s activist histories in the UK. Over 160 metres of diverse archive materials ranging from oral histories, the personal papers of women activists, to pamphlets, posters, banners, badges, photographs and periodicals, rest in a warehouse in Bristol.

The material is truly diverse: from the complete papers of Ellen Malos – a key figure in Bristol feminism - to a wide range of international materials , for example periodicals from Latin America. The personal papers of artist Monica Sjoo reside in the collection and also documentation and photographs of Dora Russell’s peace caravan journey round Europe in 1958. Wife of the philosopher Bertrand Russell and founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, she is a fascinating and important figure. There is much more, of course, than can be mentioned here but you can find a complete listing here http://oac.lib.bris.ac.uk/DServe/dserve.exe

The archive is available to all. When you have identified what you would like to see, contact special-collections@bristol.ac.uk. They will arrange for the things you are interested in to be brought to the Special Collections reading room in the Library, in Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TH. You will need to give about a week’s notice to have the materials brought in. Once there you can take as long as you like in quiet conditions with staff ready to answer questions and help with photocopying or with copyright issues. All you need is a piece of identity – and time to explore.