Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Life Histories/Women's Histories Conference, University of Sussex, 17 February 2007

The Women's Life Histories/Women's Histories Conference was held at the University of Sussex on 17 February 2007.

Around 100 people gathered at the Essex House to attend this conference hosted in partnership by the Centre for Continuing Education's Centre for Life History Research and the Southern Region of the Women's History Network. As part of the Network's aim to bring women's history to as wide an audience as possible, the conference was free and costs paid for by the Network. Many thanks to the Network for helping us in this way.

Sixteen people, including speakers from as far away as Finland and Minnesota and including faculty and students in CCE, offered a wide range of papers on using life histories in constructing women's histories. The subjects varied widely, from Early Modern women artists through to late 20th/21st century perzines as a source for women's lives. The papers covered auto/biography, diaries, letters, recipes, petitions, oral histories, family albums and perzines as sources used to reconstruct women's lives. The day finished with the book launch for Jenna Bailey's book - Can Any Mother Help Me? [published by Faber and Faber].

Jenna, a former student on the MA in Life History Research, came across the archive of the Co-operative Correspondence Club in the Mass-Observation Archive whilst studying on the MA. She wrote about it for her dissertation and was later offered a book contract. We were all keen to buy a copy of the book and poor Jenna's arm was aching from signing all those copies by the end of the day!

Further details on the National Women's History Network can be found by visiting their website at http://www.womenshistorynetwork.org/

Gerry Holloway
March 2007