Creating a research guide on ‘Working Class Women’

Below is our volunteer Lorna’s description relating to her work creating research guides. You can access Lorna’s research guide here

Last week, I visited the Farnham archives to create a research guide on the topic of working class women as part of my volunteering. This topic was of particular interest to me due to my own involvement in feminism, both academically and through volunteering at the Feminist Library.

For this task, I was looking through the Working Press archives which features correspondence, newsletters and mailing lists concerning working class women writers between 1986 and 1996 created or collected by Stefan Szczelkun.

Going through the archive, I noticed recurring themes, individuals and institutions which will enable those using the guide to find further information surrounding the topic without having to read the entire archive. By referencing specific events, individuals and inst­­­itutions within the documents, users will be able to easily research the area in more depth by using key terms instead of general terms such as feminism, class and protest.

For researchers, being able to see these pieces together in the context of an archive, gives an added value to the material, in terms of the information they can gain from them. In this way it is easier to see changes within a time period as well as make links between individuals and institutions.

When choosing what items should be mentioned within the guide, I tried to look for material that summed up both the working class and female element of the research guide. This was mainly selecting writing that was either about women or from the view point of a woman.­­

Secondly I chose items that had a particular resonance with myself, as someone who had both an interest and knowledge of the topic. For example, I included items that referenced Greenham Common as I have met individuals who were at the camp.

From writing the guide, I was able to reacquaint myself with topics that interest me. Also I was able to see the archives from both the view of a volunteer as well a researcher, gaining an insight into how to make the archives more accessible and useful to those using them for research.

Lorna Harrington, volunteer

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