Women's Liberation (Canberra) Collection 1969-1984

By: Women's Liberation (Canberra, A.C.T.) June 1970Series: SERIES LIST... Series 1: Correspondence 1972-1973; Series 2: Report 1972; Series 3: Submissions 1972; Series 4: Media 1973-75; Series 5: Papers c.1970; Series 6: Conference records 1973; Series 7: Newsletters 1970-1976; Series 8: Publications 1969-1973; Series 9: Handouts / pamphlets c.1970Description: 0.09 linear metres Paper ½ x T1 Box = (H)25cm x (W)09cm x (D)40cm Portion of standard archive box ½ standard archives boxSubject(s): Women's Liberation (Canberra, A.C.T.) | Women's rights | Canberra (A.C.T.) | feminismProduction credits: PUBLICATION: Library permission and acknowledgement required.Summary: ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY The Canberra Women’s Liberation (WL) Canberra group began somewhat informally in June 1970. Two women from Sydney gave an address on women’s liberation to eight female anti-Vietnam War activists in Canberra. The idea of liberation motivated the group to meet weekly to examine the theme of women’s subjugation as it applied to them. Initially meetings were held at Canning Street, Ainslie, in a house shared by two of the original members of the group. Later weekly meetings took place in three different private houses until they moved to Bremer Street Griffith in 1972. In 1974 Women’s House was established in a Government-owned house at Lobelia Street O’Connor, where meetings continued until 1976. Other women’s groups such as Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) and the Abortion Counselling Service shared these premises. Members researched topics such as education, the nuclear family, femininity and psychology adopting a subversive approach to conservative texts. New members were recruited, their ages ranging from twenty to forty. They were generally students, young academics, and teachers. Some from the older age group were aged fifty or older, including a woman who was over seventy. WL (Canberra) grew very quickly from the original eight members to about twenty [Shulamith Wollstonecraft, ‘Canberra women’s liberation’ in Barbara Caine (General Editor) 1998 “Australian Feminism a companion”, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, p.395-6]. WL (Canberra) created much attention and captured the interest of the media. Members were asked to speak to the public. They spoke to organisations such as the Humanist Society, Rotary, Schools and Women’s Service Clubs. As they were not used to public speaking, the speakers appeared in groups of two for support. After the first public meeting in 1970, meeting attendances rose. Sometimes up to fifty women attended a meeting. Although the group was unstructured with no formal membership, minutes of the meetings were kept. Women enrolled on a mailing list and volunteered to do jobs. The collective approach was used when dealing with the press. Women took turns at speaking to the media and eventually the nom de plume of ‘Shulamith Wollstonecraft’ was used. A monthly newsletter was printed; volunteers ran information stalls in Canberra’s Civic Centre: Women’s International Day was celebrated with street theatre and speeches. WL (Canberra) organised three major conferences and met with other WL groups. They were a unified body involved in the formation of other women’s groups within the public service, a women teacher’s group, and a campus group at the Australian National University (ANU) [‘The Movement in Canberra’, Report, June 1972, p.6-7]. In the form of off-shoot collectives, WL Canberra was involved in consciousness raising activities, family planning, the first women’s refuge collective, women’s films, creative writing, submission writing, and a community childcare centre. WL (Canberra) harboured a draft dodger, as well as protected women from domestic violence [Shulamith Wollstonecraft, op cit, p.396). After the move from Bremer Street in 1974 much of the original membership dwindled. Many of central WL (Canberra) meetings were held in Lobelia Street, O’Connor. Many of the original members had been attracted to other feminist interests and they attended meetings irregularly. Some, such as the Red Fems, formed small discussion groups that meet in private homes. WEL and the Abortion Counselling Service continued the efficient management of Women’s House using it for their meetings. Finally the WL newsletter was discontinued but the ideas of feminism remained. ‘The movement had grown not in the way we imagined but beyond our dreams’ [‘Canberra women’s liberation’ in Barbara Caine (General Editor) 1988 “Australian Feminist a companion”, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, pp.395-6].
List(s) this item appears in: Germaine Greer: Stage 6 History Women's Movements | Women's Electoral Lobby: Stage 6 History Women's Movements
No physical items for this record

SERIES DESCRIPTION

Series 1: Correspondence, 1972-1973.
Contains correspondence of WL 1973-1973 with Kep Enderby and other officials. Also includes several postcards from unknown sources.

Series 2: Reports, 1972-1974.
Contains a report “The Movement in Canberra” June 1972 that gives details concerning the growth of WL in Canberra during that year. It also contains a report on the Feminism and Socialism Conference held in Melbourne in October 1974.

Series 3: Submissions, 1972.
Includes a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs: Enquiry into Divorce and Family Matters, “Women and Divorce” 1972 and a submission of Canberra Women’s Liberation grou0p to the House of Representatives Select Committee on Pharmaceutical benefits (undated) c.1971.

Series 4: Media, 1973-1975.
Contains Journal of National Film Board of Canada, Summer 1973, correspondence, re0ports, talks, transcripts, newsletters, handouts and press clippings pertaining to women and the media.

Series 5: Papers, c.1970.
Comprise a number of papers, some of which appear to have been written by members of Canberra Women’s Liberation group such as Biff MacDougall, Dale Dowse and Tamsin Donaldson. Other papers were written by prominent feminists of the time, namely Anne Summers, and possibly Germaine Greer.
‘Introduction to a Discussion of the Family’ probably written by Tamsin Donaldson, undated;
‘The Second Sex’, Dale Dowse, undated;
‘The First Fifty Years of Being Feminine’, Biff MacDougall, undated;
‘Women in Canberra’, Lorraine Merrony, undated;
‘Human Behaviour’, Betty Richardson, undated;
‘The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm’, Gale Kelly, undated;
‘The Women’s Movement and the Revolutionary Critique of Capitalism’, Daphne Gollan, undated;
‘Bounce Titty Bounce’, Germaine (probably Greer), undated;
‘So What Are We Complaining About’, A Summers, a reprint of the manifesto of a US Women’s Liberation Group, undated;
‘Feminism’, author unknown, undated;
‘Going Free, New Society’, Mary Warnock, April 1971;
‘Women at Work’, Susan Bellamy, prepared for the January 1971 Sydney Women’s Conference.
‘How Seneca Fell and Other Cautionary Tales of the Strange Fate of Radical Feminism’, unsourced and undated.

Series 6: Conference records, 1973.
Includes application forms, progress reports, list of attendant6s and copies of papers given at the Hevvies January Theory Conference, which was held at the Mt Beauty Chalet in Victoria on the Australia Day weekend 27-29 January 1973.

Series 7: Newsletters, 1970-1976.
Includes WL Newsletters No 2-56 (Twelve issues are missing). No 55 is a combined newsletter from WEL (ACT) and WL (ACT). Some are undated and not numbered.

Series 8: Publications, 1969-1973.
The series comprises miscellaneous publications:
‘On Dot’, August 5, 1969, publisher unknown;
‘Homosexuality and Psychological Functioning’, Mark Freedman, undated and unsourced.
‘Families’, Linda Gordon, published by Bread and Roses and New England Free Press Boston, Massachusetts, 1970;
‘Birth Control Handbook’, published by the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society of McGill University, Montreal, 1970;
‘Abortion Reform: The New Tokenism’, Lucinda Cisler, published by Words for Women, Glebe, undated.
‘Current Sweden’, No. 3, July 1973, published by the Swedish Institute;
‘Lectures on Liberation’, Angela Davis, published by the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners, September 1971.

Series 9: Handouts/pamphlets, c.1970.
Includes handouts created by WL (Canberra) and by several other women’s organisations, undated.



ARRANGEMENT OF CONTENTS

Box 0020 Series 1 File 15
Series 2 File 16
Series 3 File 17
Series 4 File 18
Series 5 File 19
Series 6 File 20
Series 7 File 21
Series 8 File 22
Series 9 File 23
CONTENTS

BOX NO 0020

File 15 Correspondence: 1972-73;
File 16 Reports: 1972-74;
File 17 Submissions: 1972;
File 18 Media: 1973-75;
File 19 Papers: 1970;
File 20 Conference Papers (Hevvies): January Theory Conference: 27-29, Jan. 1973;
File 21 Newsletters: Nov 1970 – May 1976 (some issues missing);
File 22 Publications: 1969-73;
File 23 Handouts (undated).

RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLICATION:

Reproduction rights are owned by Jessie Street National Women's Library. Material may be saved or printed for private research, however, if it is to be used for any other purpose, a ‘Request Permission to Publish’ form should be completed.
RESTRICTIONS ON PHYSICAL ACCESS:

Available for research. Not for loan.

PUBLICATION: Library permission and acknowledgement required.

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

The Canberra Women’s Liberation (WL) Canberra group began somewhat informally in June 1970. Two women from Sydney gave an address on women’s liberation to eight female anti-Vietnam War activists in Canberra. The idea of liberation motivated the group to meet weekly to examine the theme of women’s subjugation as it applied to them. Initially meetings were held at Canning Street, Ainslie, in a house shared by two of the original members of the group. Later weekly meetings took place in three different private houses until they moved to Bremer Street Griffith in 1972. In 1974 Women’s House was established in a Government-owned house at Lobelia Street O’Connor, where meetings continued until 1976. Other women’s groups such as Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) and the Abortion Counselling Service shared these premises. Members researched topics such as education, the nuclear family, femininity and psychology adopting a subversive approach to conservative texts. New members were recruited, their ages ranging from twenty to forty. They were generally students, young academics, and teachers. Some from the older age group were aged fifty or older, including a woman who was over seventy. WL (Canberra) grew very quickly from the original eight members to about twenty [Shulamith Wollstonecraft, ‘Canberra women’s liberation’ in Barbara Caine (General Editor) 1998 “Australian Feminism a companion”, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, p.395-6].
WL (Canberra) created much attention and captured the interest of the media. Members were asked to speak to the public. They spoke to organisations such as the Humanist Society, Rotary, Schools and Women’s Service Clubs. As they were not used to public speaking, the speakers appeared in groups of two for support. After the first public meeting in 1970, meeting attendances rose. Sometimes up to fifty women attended a meeting.
Although the group was unstructured with no formal membership, minutes of the meetings were kept. Women enrolled on a mailing list and volunteered to do jobs. The collective approach was used when dealing with the press. Women took turns at speaking to the media and eventually the nom de plume of ‘Shulamith Wollstonecraft’ was used. A monthly newsletter was printed; volunteers ran information stalls in Canberra’s Civic Centre: Women’s International Day was celebrated with street theatre and speeches. WL (Canberra) organised three major conferences and met with other WL groups.
They were a unified body involved in the formation of other women’s groups within the public service, a women teacher’s group, and a campus group at the Australian National University (ANU) [‘The Movement in Canberra’, Report, June 1972, p.6-7]. In the form of off-shoot collectives, WL Canberra was involved in consciousness raising activities, family planning, the first women’s refuge collective, women’s films, creative writing, submission writing, and a community childcare centre. WL (Canberra) harboured a draft dodger, as well as protected women from domestic violence [Shulamith Wollstonecraft, op cit, p.396).
After the move from Bremer Street in 1974 much of the original membership dwindled. Many of central WL (Canberra) meetings were held in Lobelia Street, O’Connor. Many of the original members had been attracted to other feminist interests and they attended meetings irregularly. Some, such as the Red Fems, formed small discussion groups that meet in private homes. WEL and the Abortion Counselling Service continued the efficient management of Women’s House using it for their meetings. Finally the WL newsletter was discontinued but the ideas of feminism remained. ‘The movement had grown not in the way we imagined but beyond our dreams’ [‘Canberra women’s liberation’ in Barbara Caine (General Editor) 1988 “Australian Feminist a companion”, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, pp.395-6].

RESTRICTIONS ON REPRODUCTION

Library permission and acknowledgement is required to copy material for research purposes.

SOURCE OF ACQUISITION:

Women’s Liberation (WL) Canberra is part of the Women’s Archive, later known as the Canberra Women’s Archive, which was started early in 1982 by a small group of students at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. It was supported although not funded by ANU. The collection documents the history of the second wave feminism movement in community women’s groups in Canberra. It comprises the records of thirty-five community women’s organisations, which were established, in the ACT during the 1970s and 1980s. Personal papers of some of the women involved with these groups are included in the collection.
METHOD OF ACQUISITION:

Deed of Gift. 17/5/1999 A1993/3 9 x files.

JSNWL Jessie Street National Women's Library Copyright holder is JSNWL.

English

Women’s Liberation (WL) Canberra is part of the Women’s Archive, later known as the Canberra Women’s Archive, which was started early in 1982 by a small group of students at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

There are no comments on this title.

to post a comment.

Powered by

Koha

Provided by

JSNWL

Supported by

City of Sydney

Hosted by

Catalyst