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







New Zine Display.


March was ‘Women’s History Month’ and a workshop was held for students in Farnham to create a zine inspired by our UCA Archives. The students used information on women’s history from the 1980s/90s and created zines that are on display in the Library at Epsom along with items of interest from the Archive.


There is a scrap book of newspaper clippings from 1962 until 1995 that includes fascinating stories and photographs relating to the Art School.


There are committee minutes that hold a wealth of information about the Art School. Research will uncover the types of courses, staff and student achievements, funding, ethnic monitoring, mergers and government changes.

To view these and other archive items, visit the Epsom Archive on Tuesdays and Thursday between 2pm and 3pm during term times and Saturdays.

Get inspired.

Volunteering at the Feminist Library

By volunteer Lorna Harrington
As well as being involved with the UCA archives I also volunteer at the Feminist Library in London, so what better way to finish women’s history month than to explore the resource in further depth.
The library houses over 7,000 books including fiction, non-fiction and poetry and 1,500 periodicals. What makes it so special, is its unique classification system which reflects the feminist ethos of the library, with its’ non-hierarchical categorisation.
I first discovered the library as a student at UCA while researching feminism as part of my dissertation focusing on fashion and its relationship with women. I never actually had the time to visit, but now as a volunteer I am finally able to spend some time getting to know the collection.
In terms of acquisitions of interest to art and design students, the periodicals room has a total of twenty four art journals including Feminist Art News, Women’s Art Journal and Make. It also contains copies of Spare Rib, the women’s liberation magazine which ran from 1972 to 1993 which has since been digitalised and is now available online through the British Library website.
Zines are also a key part of its collection with publications covering themes such as race, sexuality and gender. A zine or fan zine is a self-published piece of work about a specific topic often those that are not usually covered by the main stream media.
For designers, it is interesting to see the various unique styles of zines and gain inspiration for layouts and graphic presentation. In an increasingly digital world, zines still reflect their analogue routes through their use of collage, photocopying and hand written text.
They also holds many events during the year related to the arts be it zine festivals, art exhibitions or feminist film screenings. As well as this they attend events such as Feminism in London and Women of the World at the Southbank Centre.

Women of Africa in UCA Epsom Library

Women of Africa in Epsom Library

Epsom library has a stunning collection of images of women from African countries:…/119688205@N…/sets/72157663258089553.

These images include drawings of women from different tribes, women displaying bridal adornment, various hairstyles and hair accessories, as well as a selection of jewellery and costumes. The images also give an insight into the lives of these women as some are carrying out their daily tasks, such as foraging or carrying milk with their cleverly designed equipment to assist them.  The collection is part of the Diagram Group Archive, which is a cooperative group of graphic designers, writers, artists and editors. This can be found in the archive room at Epsom library along with other interesting material including diagrams, charts, tables, maps and illustrations all contained within the Diagram Group Archive.

Fiona O’Rooke, Advisor, Epsom


Girls on Film

As I continue to work my way through the UCA film collection I’m discovering more interesting subjects and themes. The films viewed this week have covered subjects as diverse as disability, education, tourism, motor racing and brewing beer. One of the things I find so fascinating about archive film is its ability to communicate the social and political preoccupations of that period. As a modern day viewer it’s not only the fashions, cars and lifestyles that seem outmoded but also the social and political viewpoints and in this context for example the way women are represented in some of the films.


The 1970s could not be seen as a high point for the depiction of women on film. Laura Mulvey’s seminal essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975) argued that classical Hollywood cinema positioned the woman as the subject of “the male gaze”, there to be looked at and little else. Although we are not discussing Hollywood cinema here this certainly rings true in the depiction of women in some of the films I have viewed. “A Seasonal Matter”, a film about the struggling Devon resort town of Ilfracombe, uses saucy British postcards in its credits sequence showing women in various risqué situations on the beach very much for the titillation of men. In “Fresians of the Future”, a travelogue capturing a student trip to France and Spain, attractive women and their body parts are very much the focus as the camera captures the beautiful sites of the countries visited. “The Incredible Shrinking Existence of Norman Clough” is a fictional story about roommates Rod and Norman. Rod is a lothario who treats women as conquests and Norman is hopeless around girls and needs Rod’s help to “pull”. When they go out on a double date Norman inevitably messes everything up and when one of the girls says she wants to enter politics he is condescending.

Viewing these films from a modern day perspective greatly alters how the films are appreciated and what it is about the films that make the viewer take notice even if it was not the original intention of the film maker. I look forward to seeing what else I uncover in the coming weeks.


Carryl Church – Assistant/Film Archivist

‘Great’ Women throughout History

Women’s History Month Archive Events

In March UCA Archives and Special Collections celebrated Women’s History Month by hosting different events and promoting themed material as part of our #UCAWHM social media campaign.

As part of our celebrations marking Women’s History Month, we held a pop-up event on 18th March to showcase animation archive material featuring prominent female historical figures such as Queen Mary I, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and Margaret Thatcher.

Women's History Month Display

Great Women Throughout History Pop-Up Display

Material from the animation Millennium – The Musical included artwork from a musical sequence about the Tudor dynasty. In the sequence, Queen Mary I is depicted as ‘Bloody Mary’ with crowds watching in horror at the sight of flames burning Protestants. The portrayal of her character is shown in the image above. The artists have designed Mary with an unpleasant, almost conniving facial expression, with the scene consisting of Mary chuckling as she rubs her hands together. In contrast, Queen Elizabeth I has an upbeat section, celebrating the reign of ‘Good Queen Bess’ as ‘the Virgin Queen’. In the artwork displayed next to the image of Mary, Elizabeth is smiling as she playfully winks at the viewer in the scene. These contrasting images present an interesting comparison of the two rulers, and are one example of how they have come to be portrayed throughout the years following their rule.

We also looked at material from the Oscar award-winning animation Great, which features caricatures of Queen Victoria. The other figure we focused on was Margaret Thatcher, whose character is portrayed in the animated series Margaret Thatcher: Where am I Now? The Steve Bell animation takes a satirical look at the life and work of Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

Our Flickr account with images used in our advertising talk

Our Flickr account featuring images used in our advertising talk

On 19th March we also held a talk featuring material from our other collections, such as the Tessa Boffin archive and the West Surrey College of Art and Design archive. ‘Men Act, Women Appear: Women in Art and Advertising’ discussed the gender portrayal of woman in advertising, with reference to college prospectuses and course guides.

We advertised these events via our social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter using #UCAWHM as our hash-tag of choice. Throughout the whole of March we posted quotes and images from our collections, which were also available for viewing on our Flickr account. Finally, we pulled together the results of our campaign into a story, using Storify.

Our media campaign with #UCAWHM

Our extensive media campaign with #UCAWHM

 We hope that through our efforts we have contributed towards the celebration of Women’s History Month and highlighted women whose lives have played a prominent part in society.

The archive material featured is available to search on the UCA Archives and Special Collections Online Catalogue.

All images are for educational purposes only. Artwork copyright Bob Godfrey. Millennium – The Musical copyright Channel Four Television Corporation.
Contact UCA Archives and Special Collections for more information at

Hannah Ratford, Archive Cataloguer

Well behaved women seldom make history…

March is Women’s History Month and UCA’s archives & Special collections are shining a spotlight on female contribution, and female struggles towards and within the arts.

Looking at the themes of ‘well behaved women seldom make history’ and ‘for most of history anonymous was a woman’ we will be tweeting our images through #UCAWHM (University for the Creative Arts, Women’s History Month). Also look out for #photography #womenshealth #womensfashion among others. Access our twitter @uca_ae

We will also be undertaking a talk and hands on session with our archives – ‘men act, women appear’. Book for this event here

Also take  a look out for our pop up event in Farnham Library of Great Women in History!

We will be putting the spot lights on our institutional archives dating from 1889, tracing numbers of female students attending, ‘female’ courses, biographies of female students and teachers. How did females fare within art education from 19th century onwards? Who were the key female pioneers of UCA? What about the ‘nameless’ women, or anon?

'i'm pitting myself against the men and i'll win' - Gail Wilson, only photography student in the year

‘i’m pitting myself against the men and i’ll win’ – Gail Wilson, only photography student in the year

Our collections also will look at key females, such as photographer Jo Spence, who did photography work from the 1970s related to her own breast cancer, Tessa Boffin, who did LGBT photography work from the 1980s, also looking at gender identity, masculinity, femininity, perceptions of rape. We see who she is inspired by. We also take a look at her links with organisations such as Feminists against censorship.

The Working Press, books by and about working class artists, questions what it means to be working class, and questions what it may mean to be a working class female.

Our animation archives highlight portrayal of women in animation, including portrayal of female politicians, such as Margaret Thatcher, in Margaret Thatcher, Where am I Now?, 1999 and our royal family, such as Queen Victoria in Great, the Lives and Times of Isambaard Brunel, 1975

Email to access us, and be inspired by our extraordinary women!

Rebekah Taylor,

Archivist & Special Collections Officer