Shattering the silence: the exclusion of women from the archive

Short, Lindsey Alexandra (2011) Shattering the silence: the exclusion of women from the archive. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This dissertation asserts that women, like many groups outwith the European white male population, have been under-represented in the archive. Their voices are either not heard or heard only in faint whispers. As such, two main issues will be addressed:

· Women’s records have been over-looked due to their non-traditional format and content, which has led to friction and claims of subversion.
· How the male-sanctioned language of the archival profession does not adequately represent the range of women’s experiences.
· Likewise, the language employed by contemporary women to describe their experiences can be unsettling and lead for example to charges of promiscuity.
· Archival standards are poorly equipped to represent the ways in which women have been described in masculine records and how women describe themselves within their own records.
· Traditional archive theory militates against allowing the voice of women to emerge, and it is only through the works of more recent commentators such as Verne Harris and Louise Craven that a wider view of the archive is being articulated among archives professionals which allows the voice of women to be more effectively heard.

This research was based on a number of visits to libraries, museums and archives and interviews with information professionals. The first of these was with Wendy Kirk and Adele Patrick from Glasgow Women’s Library. The second was with Althea Greenan and Jacqueline Cooke from MAKE – The Women’s Art Library. Finally, I interviewed Terry Dennett, the curator of the Jo Spence Memorial Archive. I also visited The Women’s Library in London, The Foundling Museum and attended a public lecture entitled, Tracey Emin In Conversation with Patrick Elliott at the National Gallery of Scotland.

The ways in which such fundamental professionals activities of information professionals as cataloguing and the appraisal of records overlook women and make it difficult to recapture their experience will be illustrated. This has fundamental implications for information professionals, who must engage with, understand and explain the reasons for the previous lacunae and move forward to ensure that these themes of friction and absence within the archive are resolved.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information:
Keywords: Archives, feminism, women's history
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals > CD921 Archives
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Supervisor's Name: Stuart, Dr. Susan
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Miss Lindsey Alexandra Short
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2950
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:02

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