The London Women’s History Project

Late in 1998, a few women who had been active in the Women’s Movement of the 1960s and 70s began discussing the influence of those years on the London community.  They realized that unless some effort was made, the stories and records of those times would be lost.  By 2000, an expanded group was meeting regularly as The London Women’s History Project (LWHP).  Its purpose was to ensure that the stories and records of the “Second Wave Women’s Movement” were preserved for future generations as part of London’s heritage.  In 2001, the group organized its first public meeting downtown to inform Londoners of their search for records, stories, and artifacts, from individuals and groups who had made history from 1960-1980.  Many materials were collected as part of the project, including 25 tapes of interviews with London women in 1979, personal records, memorabilia, and the minutes of meetings from a number of women’s groups.

In 2002, the group approached the board charged with the creation of the new public library downtown to see if the materials being collected could be housed there, perhaps in a new Women’s Room or in the existing London Room.  When this idea was rejected, the group approached the University of Western Ontario Archives with a request to establish a London Women’s History Collection.  The response was positive and began a very successful relationship between the LWHP and UWO during which time the LWHP Collection was established.

By the end of 2010, the records of many London women and groups had been put in the archives at UWO.  In addition, the existing 1979 tapes had been transcribed and 54 new oral history tapes and transcripts had been made by students taking the “Oral Histories, Women’s Histories” course offered at UWO under the leadership of Professor Rebecca Coulter. This course was set up in response to a request from LWHG to the Dean of Women’s Studies.

To ensure ongoing contact with the community, LWHP began a tradition of holding a meeting on International Women’s Day each year to update the community about the project. Further, the LWHP website was launched in 2009.  It describes the project and further invites all interested persons to provide biographies of women they know who were active in the period 1965-2000.