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Oral evidence on the suffragette and suffragist movements: the Brian Harrison interviews

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 8SUF
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: Oral evidence on the suffragette and suffragist movements: the Brian Harrison interviews
Date(s): 1974-1981
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 13 boxes
Name of creator(s): Harrison | Sir | Brian | b 1937 | Knight | historian
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Between 1974-1981 Brian Harrison, then of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, undertook an oral history project financed by Social Science Research Council (he later extensively used these interviews in his book Prudent Revolutionaries: Portraits of British Feminists between the Wars Oxford University Press 1987). The original aim of the project was to provide material to supplement documentary sources on the Edwardian women's suffrage movement in Britain and to make these interviews available to scholars subsequently working in the field. Interviews were conducted with surviving Edwardian women's movement campaigners, their sons, daughters, relatives and employees. During the course of the project the chronological scope was widened to include those active in the women's movement after women's enfranchisement. Thematically the scope was also widened to encompass those who were active in various women's organisations, including international and religious organisations, and to cover themes including women's employment and birth control. 205 interviews with 183 individuals were completed.


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection consists of 205 interviews available in digital audio file format and one folder of contextual material relating to the interviews, including essays and reports by Brian Harrison. The digital files are copies of the original oral history interview recordings that are held on reel-to-reel cassette.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

This collection is available for research if advance notice is given. Available on dvd only. Readers will need a laptop computer with a dvd drive, and headphones, which can be supplied by TWL Reading Room if requested. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library 5 full working days in advance of their visit.

In accordance with the Data Protection Act, some individual interviews are either closed or subject to access restrictions. Originally the interviews were obtained on the condition that the permission of the interviewee would be sought before access was granted. Subsequently permission for general research use was sought by The Women's Library from the interviewees and granted in the majority of cases. The contents of the interviews were widely published and disseminated by Brian Harrison and the collection proved highly popular with researchers. The Women's Library took advice from the Oral History Society and several sector specialists and a decision was made in 2008 to release the majority of the interviews. Interviews were only closed if a consent form was never signed and the contents could clearly be identified as 'sensitive' as defined by the Data Protection Act. If any interviewees are unhappy that their interview has been released they should contact The Women's Library Archivist. Two interviews (with Phoebe Pole 8SUF/B/191-192) are unavailable as the original cassette (Tape 74) was noted as missing in 1995. Readers must contact The Women's Library to arrange access to the collection in advance of their visit.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

Summaries of the interviews prepared by Brian Harrison are available in The Women's Library Reading Room

Catalogue Enhancement:

A team of 16 volunteers listened to the interviews and created summaries of content, broken down into 15 minute segments, to enhance research access. They also created brief biographies of each interviewee. These summaries and biographies were edited by the project archivist Anna Kisby and added to the online catalogue. Where volunteers and the project archivist identified 'sensitive' subject matter in interviews for which we do not hold documented permission for access (as established during the 1982 project) then these interviews were closed under the Data Protection Act. After seeking advice from the Oral History Society and several sector specialists a decision was made to open all other interviews. Please note that as at Autumn 2008 volunteers are still working on summaries and biographies, which will continue to be added as enhancements to the online catalogue throughout 2008.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The recordings (on open reel quarter-inch format cassette) were donated to The Women's Library (then the Fawcett Library) by Harrison in 1981.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Women's Library holds a wealth of related material on the women's suffrage movement. See Archives Strand 2 - Suffrage Organisations, Strand 7 Personal Papers and Strand 9 Autograph Letters. Other oral and life history collections are held in Strand 8. Interviewees whose personal papers are held at The Women's Library include Winifred Adair-Roberts (7WAR), Margery Corbett Ashby (7MCA), Fiona Billington Greig (7FBG) and Agnes Muriel Pierotti (7AMP), Charles Price (husband of Millicent Browne) (7MPR). The book by Brian Harrison 'Prudent Revolutionaries: Portraits of British Feminists between the Wars' (Oxford University Press, 1987) is held in The Women's Library Printed Collections.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Th's document was generated by Javascript from an HTML form which structured the input according to the elements of ISAD(G) Version 2. Collection description by Jennifer Haynes, Head of Special Collections, The Women's Library. Edited by Anna Kisby, Assistant Archivist, Oct 2008. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
In compliance with ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description - 2nd Edition (1999); UNESCO Thesaurus, December 2001; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Dec 2008

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