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Women’s Aid archive project begins

A new Wellcome Trust-funded project has launched to catalogue and make available the Women’s Aid Federation England (WAFE) archive.

Women’s Aid Federation England (WAFE) is the national coordinating body for all local and domestic violence services, including refuges in England. It lobbies, advocates and campaigns throughout England. The archive encapsulates the broad spectrum of its work from 1970s to the present day.

Beginning in June, the 30-month project will appraise, sort and catalogue WAFE’s archives, transforming over 300 boxes of raw materials into a comprehensive research resource.

The resource will offer the opportunity for significant interdisciplinary research, with the potential to foster new research collaborations across the University, along with external academics and community partners. The archive will include index terms, linking of catalogue data, and access points to allow online discovery.

The archive of Women’s Aid is a unique and historically significant collection that I am so excited to work with

Holly Smith, Project Archivist

Holly Smith has been appointed Project Archivist, moving from the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture project where she was no stranger to the sensitivity required for a project of this type. Holly shared her enthusiasm for the project, saying:

“The archive of Women’s Aid is a unique and historically significant collection that I am so excited to work with. I am looking forward to helping share the history of Women’s Aid itself as well as hopefully raising awareness of the many stories linked to the organisation, such as the Women’s Liberation Movement, the formation of women’s refuges around the country, and the many campaigns they’ve been involved in since the 1970s.”

The project team will also work with the Feminist Archive North, to put key records of WAFE’s foundation and early years into context, and with Women’s Aid to create mechanisms for keeping the archive up to date.

It is a major resource for WAFE’s own understanding of its contribution to health and society, documenting not only changes in the organisation but changes in the law and cultural shifts in attitudes towards domestic abuse.

The project will be overseen by a board comprising of Leeds academics, representatives from the Feminist Archive North, and key staff from Women’s Aid and Special Collections.

Watch our Head of Special Collections, Joanne Fitton, and Lauren Owen from Women’s Aid discuss the partnership and their ambitions for the collection:

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