A history of survival: preserving and working with an archive of single parent activism

Jenny Barke, Sue Cohen, Tim Cole, Lorna Henry, Jude Hutchen, Vivian Latinwo-Olajide, Josie McLellan, Ellie Pridgeon, Becky Whitmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


In this article, we relate the story of a grassroots feminist archive. Single Parent Action Network, a Bristol-based national organisation, curated its own archive with great care throughout its history. When the organisation was forced to close in 2016, this irreplaceable repository of records, documents and audio-visual material was unceremoniously dumped in a skip. Thanks to prompt action by two long-time SPAN workers, it was rescued and became the foundation of a public history project run by a university-community partnership. This project was structured around a History Group of community researchers, which met weekly. The project also included the cataloguing and preservation of the archive, in preparation for its accession to the Feminist Archive South. The project team carried out 27 interviews with former SPAN workers, members and volunteers to add to the archive, and also served to create connections between the project team and those who had been involved with the organisation. Finally, the History Group devised a number of creative outputs including a piece of public art, a film, and a series of commemorative mugs. The article reflects on some of the tensions and difficulties that emerged during this work.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalWomen's History Review
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2023

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