Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project

Welcome to Sisterhood and After, the first national oral history project documenting the memories of the women who powered the women's liberation movement.

Capturing the voices of a generation of feminist activists, 'Sisterhood & After' is a new oral history archive and website which launched at the British Library on 8th March on International Women's Day, and provides a free major resource to anyone interested in the history of feminism. The oral history project was also partnered with The Women's Library, which advised it, and directed by Margaretta Jolly at the University of Sussex. It was funded by The Leverhulme Trust. Each of the 60 women activists recorded for this project campaigned for equality and freedom in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. These women demanded that struggles for gender rights be on at home as well as in the public sphere. They describe their own experiences as girls, socialised to expect less than their brothers. They also describe a rich range of political heritages that informed British feminism, from Black Power to Gay Liberation to socialism and disability rights.

Hear and see them at bl.uk/sisterhood and the Women's Library blog.

Creative sound work drawing on the Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project to show in London gallery

A single screen installation from Voices in Movement, which piloted at the Family Ties Network day Public and Personal Archives: Creative Negotiations on 4 April 2014 at the University of Sussex, will be included in the exhibition below at the Peltz Gallery, London. 

Voices in Movement is a collaboration between Lizzie Thynne (Director), Ed Hughes (Composer) and Margaretta Jolly (Producer).

Family Ties: Reframing Memory

Starts: 03 July 2014 - 10:10 Finishes: 25 July 2014 - 17:00

Venue: Peltz Gallery, Ground Floor, School of Arts, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Sound installation, 'Voices in Movement', dir. Lizzie Thynne, with music by Ed Hughes, producer Margaretta Jolly

How might we read memory in relation to the family, and how might we enact these memories in visual form? This group exhibition addresses the representation of family memory through the lens-based works of six artists. Family Ties: Reframing Memory explores the bittersweet aspects of nostalgia, yet also questions the conflicts and contradictions inherent in acts of remembering. Suze Adams navigates the borders of fact and fiction in an exploratory re-tracing of her maternal ancestors. Nicky Bird draws on family albums belonging to others to illuminate personal, political memories connected to place. Jacqueline Butler’s poetic approach alludes to sensory memories prompted by public photographic collections and her personal archive. Rosy Martin re-enacts a lost past as she embodies both of her parents in their family home and evokes a sense of haunting using projections. Lizzie Thynne’s experimental documentary reflects on her mother’s life as well as the inter-subjectivity of all biography and choreographs memories of family and relationships from the Women’s Liberation Movement. Sally Waterman recalls traumatic memories of family conflict through literary adaptation and staged re-photography.

More info here. The Peltz Gallery is an exhibition space at the Birkbeck School of Arts.  You can see pictures of the exhibition here on the Family Ties Network blog.
Click here for a review of the exhibition by Deborah Schultz for the Aesthetica Magazine's blog.


Exclusive excerpts of the British Library's Sisterhood & After oral history collection

now online at Britain's new national women's magazine, Feminist TimesFeminist Times Magazine banner


See more at: http://www.feministtimes.com/sisterhood-after-listen-to-fifty-years-of-feminism/

ELF Debate: Fifty Years of Feminism

At the Rich Mix (in the main space), 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA ELF Debate: Fifty Years of Feminism

 22 April 2014 at 7pm

The event was a huge success and attended by more than 220 people, most of them young women. It was live-streamed here: eastlondonfawcett.org.uk


“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” 

― Gloria Steinem, 1972

What can today’s feminists learn from the Women’s Movement of the 1970s and 80s? Debate the past, present and future of feminism during this panel discussion, hosted by East London Fawcett on 22nd April and in partnership with the British Library.

In a society where the full-time gender pay gap is 10%, only 23% of UK MPs are women, and 44% of women still experience physical abuse, we ask what impact the legacy of Second Wave feminism has on the lives of women living in the 21st century. 

  • Does feminism mean something different today?
  • How do we raise awareness of the ongoing inequalities in the home, at work, and in the media?
  • Can we even agree on what still needs to be fought for? 

The evening also featured recordings from the British Library’s new oral history of the Women’s Movement, Sisterhood and After.

Feminist campaigners of the 70s and 80s deserve to be celebrated, but there is work left to be done. So how relevant is feminism’s past to its future?

This fascinating debate about the past, present and future of feminism, will be chaired by Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre. Panellists included:

  • Melissa Benn – author, journalist and campaigner for the comprehensive education system. Her most recent book, What Shall We Tell Our Daughters? The Pleasures and Pressures of Growing Up Female has just been published by John Murray
  • Beatrix Campbell – writer, journalist, playwright, social commentator and Green Party candidate. Beatrix was active in the Women’s Liberation Movement, and co-founded Red Rag, a Marxist and feminist journal. Her most recent book, The End of Equality has just been published by Seagull Books
  • Laura Bates – journalist and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, a collection of over 10,000 women's daily experiences of gender inequality
  • Lesley Abdela – expert on women's rights internationally, and is an advisor to governments and NGOs in the fields of gender and democratic development. She is also a journalist and broadcaster.


This event was inspired by, and was held in partnership with The British Library’s new feminist oral history project, Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

The archive consists of audio recordings featuring the voices of a diverse range of feminists discussing work, race, fashion and identity. Panellists Beatrix Campbell and Lesley Abdela participated in the British Library's project, and will talk about their contributions. Polly Russell, curator at the British Library, will talk about why the archive matters.


East London Fawcett is the East London branch of the Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading campaign for gender equality. ELF organises talks, parties, arts events, sporting activities and much more. It is 21st century activism for people who believe in progress and who want to be a part of an exciting movement that comprises a growing network of interesting and engaged people in East London. The group is open to all and membership is free.

For more information and to join the network contact: eastlondonfawcett@gmail.com

  • Event Details: ELF debate: Fifty years of Feminism @ the Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA, 22 April 2014 at 7pm
  • Link for tickets: http://goo.gl/gwSbJA
  • Contact eastlondonfawcett@gmail.com / press@eastlondonfawcett.co.uk for further press enquiries.
  • Follow ELF on Twitter: @EastFawcett #Feminism50