Review of Women’s Studies Archive

This is a guest review from Melina Spanoudi (LDC) looking at one of the sixteen resources the Library is trialling in March and April 2019

Screenshot showing the women's studies archive homepage

The Women’s Studies Archive that the UEA has access to until the 4th of April is an incredibly vast collection of primary sources that explore women’s history, making it the ideal place for all who are interested to dig out relevant documents, from manuscripts to periodicals and newspaper articles, that trail the history of women’s rights.

Whether you are a scholar, a student, or an amateur researcher, in today’s political climate, it is imperative to look back in history in order to see the progress that has been made, and the ways still to go. Women’s reproductive rights have been a matter of discussion from their very foundation, but in later years, they seem to have become a topic of re-negotiation- from America to Norway, the right to abortion is being threatened left and right.

Perhaps we need to be reminded of the great individuals and groups who fought for women to have access to fundamental healthcare, in order for us to be propelled to take action to protect the progress that has been made.

Particularly noteworthy is the Grassroots Feminist Organisations collection that covers many aspects of the women’s liberation movement. It includes the sub collection ‘Abortion Action Coalition Records’ which is specifically concerned with women’s struggle to gain reproductive rights.

Some of the manuscripts include public opinion polls from the 1980’s in the United States regarding abortion issues, which demonstrated a pro-choice majority of 83%. There are publications such as pamphlets entitled ‘Free abortion on demand!’. The ‘Abortion Internationally’ pamphlet begins with a transcribed speech by Barbara Roberts, who in 1977 said that ‘No human being’s right to life includes the right of another person’ body, against that person’s will, not his kidney, his cornea, a graft of his skin or a pint of his blood.’

Included is also the sub collection entitled Female ‘Liberation: A Radical Feminist Organization Records, 1968-1974’. In a 1971 journal entitled “The Rights to Choose Abortion”, there can be found essays, art, poetry, and all these things at once. In a poem that is featured in the journal, Marge Piercy writes: ‘What did you ever receive for free/ except a fetus you had to pay to have out?’ In the column on next page, Nancy Williamson outlines that ‘The question of abortion and a woman’s right to obtain one directly threatens the institutions of the family, the church, and the state; in sort, the whole sexist society in which we live.’

Another collection that is made available is Women’s Health/ Mental Health which includes the sub collection, ‘Section Four: Birth Control/ Population Control’ that comprises of documents such as ‘A Report on the Women’s National Abortion Conference’, which was held in Columbia University on July of 1971. The conference reportedly ‘called to launch a national campaign to repeal all abortion laws…[but] ended in an angry split that will have important consequences for the women’s liberation movement.’

These are only a very few documents from a vast and varied collection that is exceptionally worthwhile for those who are interested in reproductive rights from across disciplines.

Melina Spanoudi


The Library is trialling some fantastic digital resources in March and April…

…historic newspapers, US declassified information, LGBT resources, Independent comics and graphic novels, Film and drama collections and much much more!

Over the next few weeks UEA has trial access to some great resources for you to explore and use. These are expensive resources and we would probably only be able to afford to buy a handful of them, so if any of these are of interest or use in your studies then please make good use of them and tell us whether you think they’re worth having.

The full list is below. All these are listed alphabetically by title in FIND DATABASES. The easiest way to access these resources is to go to FIND DATABASES and type TRIAL in the search box. This will bring up the full list along with links that will work on or off campus.

  • Archives of Sexuality & Gender (Gale Cengage) – ON TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  Large collection of primary source material related to the history and study of sex, sexuality and gender.
  • British Periodicals Collections (ProQuest) I,II & III – TRIAL OF PART IV UNTIL 1 JUNETraces the development and growth of the periodical press in Britain from its origins in the seventeenth century through to the Victorian ‘age of periodicals’ and beyond.
  • Cecil Papers (ProQuest) – TRIAL UNTIL 10 MAYMajor collection of early-modern historical documents from the reigns of Elizabethan I and James I/VI.
  • Drama Texts Collection (ProQuest/Alexander Street) – TRIAL UNTIL 30 APRILLarge collection of English-language drama from the late thirteenth century through to the early twenty-first century.
  • Film Scripts Online (ProQuest/Alexander Street), Volumes I and II – TRIAL UNTIL 30 APRILLarge collection of screenplays, enabling film scholars to compare a writer’s vision with the producer’s and director’s interpretations from page to screen. Includes scripts from Paul Schrader, Lawrence Kasdan, Gus Van Sant, Neil LaBute, Oliver Stone, among many others.
  • Informit Indigenous Archive (Informit) – TRIAL UNTIL 5 APRIL.  Covers both topical and historical issues within Indigenous studies from a multi-disciplinary framework. Contains material from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, North America and the Pacific. For off-campus access please contact Grant Young in the Library.
  • International Herald Tribune (Gale Cengage) – TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  Archive of this important US internationally-focused newspaper from 1887-2013.
  • LGBT Magazine Archive (ProQuest/Alexander Street) – TRIAL UNTIL 1 MAYArchival runs of 26 of the most influential, longest-running serial publications covering LGBT interests, including The Advocate and Gay Times.
  • Nichols Newspapers Collection (Gale Cengage) – TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  An important collection of 17th and 18th century British newspapers.
  • Picture Post Historical (Gale Cengage) – TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  Complete archive of this British pictorial magazine which ran from 1938-1957.
  • Punch Historical Archive, 1841-1992 (Gale Cengage) – TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  Archive of this important satirical magazine.
  • Revolution and Protest Online (ProQuest/Alexander Street) – TRIAL UNTIL 30 APRILArchive collection exploring the protest movements, revolutions, and civil wars that have transformed societies and human experience from the 18th century through the present.
  • The Telegraph Historical Archive, 1855-2000 (Gale Cengage) – TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  Archive of the Telegraph newspaper.
  • Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels (ProQuest/Alexander Street) – TRIAL UNTIL 30 APRILLarge collection of rare and hard to find comics from across the world along with journals and other supporting literature.
  • US Declassified Documents Online (Gale Cengage) – TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  Archive containing White House confidential file materials, National Security Council policy statements, CIA intelligence memoranda, and many more documents that provide insight into the inner workings of the US government and world events in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  • Women’s Studies Archive (Gale Cengage) – TRIAL UNTIL 4 APRIL.  Manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, and other sources that explore the foundation of women’s movements in the 19th and 20th centuries. On trial until 4 April 2019. See a review of this collection in this blog.

Go to FIND DATABASES and type TRIAL in the search box to bring up the full list with links.

Library Access tool and Safari

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An important note from Lean Library Access about Safari Support

Apple are no longer supporting the type of extension that is used for the Library Access tool.

Lean Library Access are committed to Safari and supporting macOS users. They have already begun working with developers to build the new style “Safari App Extension”. However, no timescale has been confirmed for this yet.

The existing extension will not stop working, but newer features will not be supported. If you are a Safari user and experience problems, please try using Chrome, Firefox or Opera on macOS instead.

If you have any queries or need further help with the Library Access tool, please contact or

UEA Library – What came before?

UEA welcomed its first students in 1963 and the Library building as we know it was officially opened on 25 October 1968. It has stood solidly for 50 years in the centre of the Plain. Six floors of grey concrete offering a wealth of rich resources. Yet there is an earlier period in the history of UEA Library, 1963-1968, which pre-dates our building, a time when the Library was sited in the Jacobean Hall and then in the Georgian dining room at Earlham Hall (1963) and later in the Village (1964-1968).

UEA Library at Earlham Hall c. Eastern Daily Press

At the start of the academic year in 1963 there were only two schools of study: Biological Sciences and English Studies. The 87 undergraduates and 27 graduates had access to 16,000 volumes and the library was staffed by 10.

A year later in August 1964 the Library was moved to a former common room block in the prefabricated campus which became known as ’The Village’ across Earlham Road. Subject areas now numbered six, each occupying its own room. Off this was a central and rather noisy concourse area in which the catalogue and issue desk were situated. It was not always that comfortable:

In a letter to his family on 7/10/65, Adrian Smith, an alumnus from BIO writes: ‘Life is hectic … with another 400 new faces it’s hopeless, and people try to work in the library perched on the radiators – just as I recall they used to when the same rooms were the Common Rooms of 2 yrs ago.’

UEA.SMI.68On 5/1/66 he writes: ‘The library closes at 5pm which is frustrating for all concerned.’

Adrian would be pleased to know that the Library is now open 24/7, 365. Fortunately this did not put him off as he went on to become Biological Sciences Librarian in Leeds University Library (1969-2009) and credits the subject-qualified librarians at UEA for being model examples.


The Village. Copyright UEA

UEA Archives holds 89 letters and postcards written by Adrian to his family as a young student in the 1960s. More about the letters.

On 19 February 1968 the Library was finally relocated to its permanent home designed in concrete by Denys Lasdun, on the campus we recognise today.

UEA Library at 50 (1968-2018). Memories #3

More magical memories of a library regarded with reverential awe. A retreat from which to reflect on relationships, and those disappearing stairs!

“I guess I was aware that the library was brand new when I first started making use of it in October 1968. But since everything in the campus was new or nearly new it didn’t really make much impression. Of course, the fact that the thick carpets that covered every floor gave off electric shocks throughout that first year – and for some time after – was another indicator of its newness if I’d cared to think about it.

For me – and I think a number of my friends – the great virtue of the library was that it offered a retreat, a sort of cocoon, from the harshness and strangeness of much of the university life that swirled around it. Here you could just sit – in welcome warmth – and focus on work. Desperate crushes, overbearing tutors, disastrous relationships, suicidal thoughts and more could all be put on hold while you immersed yourself in John Ruskin and the arts and crafts movement …

The best locations in the library were – as now – in the concrete cubicles by the window. Most of these were taken early in the day, which meant thereafter you had to gravitate to the tables next to the bookshelves. That did mean fewer distractions though. While ensconced in a cubicle I watched just about every stage of the building works that turned the idyllic grassy slope opposite into yet more concrete – a reflection, of course, of the university’s ever-expanding student population. We also attempted to work through the drilling and disruption involved in the extension of the library. And we witnessed more puzzling bits of construction, like the short flight of steps built over the course of a few weeks by the side of the library, which then simply disappeared. I never discovered what that was about – but it was certainly a welcome source of entertainment.”
Andrew (English and American Studies, 68)

LIB walkway from greetings card“I came to UEA in October 1968 so the library was brand new. I loved it as I loved all the buildings on what we then knew as the Plain. I had never experienced architecture like it, it was new and exciting and quite wonderful. I remember hours spent in the hushed, almost reverent atmosphere of the library researching and writing my essays and if the carpet gave me frequent electric shocks I didn’t care, to me it was magical. I do remember though that when I was showing around my sister’s French pen pal she asked me if the building was finished!”
Diana (English and American Studies, 68-71)

UEA.S.2.57“I have fond memories of the library, despite the draughty metal window frames in the winter! Not only was it a pleasant place to study and big enough to find a quiet spot with a PC even on Sundays (no snack or coffee facilities then so we had to go to Breakers for a tea break). It was also a handy place to meet friends and a place to look out of the windows overlooking the lake and reflect on e.g. the sorry state of my love-life. It may or may not have had an undue influence on my choice of career as a professional librarian but it was the first place I encountered the joys of the ISI BIDS bibliographic database (now Web of Science) and Sight & Sound magazine. It seemed a pain at the time to have to leave bags in lockers in the basement and submit to book checks by the porter at the exit each time but that probably ensured that the Library would reach its 50th anniversary in a better condition than its more modern peers.”
Tim (European Studies, 96)

UEA.S.1.2.42 1973“I graduated from MAP in 1971, so I guess that makes me one of the original users of the library. At the risk of minimising its academic importance, my main memory is of being able to read the main national newspapers every day. This resulted in me becoming a lifelong Times reader – sorry Guardian and The Telegraph!”
Keith (Maths and Physics, 71)

Share your memories of the Library with us

UEA Library’s 50th Anniversary


UEA Library at 50 (1968-2018). Memories #2

We’re pleased to share more delightful memories of the Library from alumni. Some are still returning to do a spot of quiet work, and others wish they could. Described as an ‘essential-to-visit place’ and a ’place much loved’ this is every bit true in 2018 as it was in earlier decades. The Library continues to provide a warm welcome and receives around 1.5 million visits and over 6 million digital visits each year. 


‘This was my favourite spot – what a gorgeous view. Those were the days.’ Penny (4th year French language UG). 27 October 2014

“I remember the Library as an essential-to-visit place and regarded it with reverential awe. There was a quiet, efficient order to the place where everybody whispered and said ‘Thank You’ even after paying the fine for late return of borrowed books! I discovered the EPW [Economic and Political Weekly] there and wondered, how come being from India I hadn’t even heard of this ‘genius in print’ before? Anyway, our course made us read and refer to EPW frequently and I think one of the gifts I took away from the Library was a lifelong addition to this weekly. There was much photocopying to be got done, the money for which was ill-advisedly given to us in one go at the beginning of the course, and soon vanished in more urgent calling (and need) for evening beers after a whole day of rural development many of us never knew ‘existed’! To cut corners we formed a little group of four, in similar circumstances, and so shared the photocopied burden. The Library was a good place to soak in the winter sun if one luckily got a ‘window’ seat! I do not remember if one was allowed to take coffee or snacks inside, but I hope this is permitted now?”
Vinay (Masters in Rural Development 89-90)


Derek helped build the first extension, 1974.

“Having completed a successful year in CHE, I started again at UEA in EUR in 1972. Hence, I was still at UEA in 1974 when the extension was started. Coincidentally, my vacation job that Summer was with RG Carter who had the contract to extend the library and I spent several weeks helping to create the new building.”
Derek (CHE & EUR, 71-74)

Many people make many different contributions to UEA but not many students can say they have actually contributed by helping to erect the university buildings! Thanks Derek.

“I loved using the library for studying. I would book a carrel overlooking the lake and set myself up for the day. Being able to lock the space meant I could enjoy lunch down in the Bowl before ambling back up to my “office” to carry on.

More recently, I’ve occasionally used the same quiet, distraction-free atmosphere to work on scheduling the timetable for the school where I work!”
Simon (EUR 98)

“Coming to UEA as a mature student with a long track record of academic failure, the library mainly intimidated me. It took some getting used to but eventually became a regular refuge. What I most remember – and treasured at the time – was holing up in one of the airless basement rooms with one or other of the BBC Shakespeare videos and a notepad. Yup. Not even DVDs in those days. Having access to high-quality performances of the plays, on demand, was a priceless resource as I attempted to get my head around the enormity of King Lear, for example. [Grateful to] Michael Hordern [actor] and the fact that someone at UEA had the wisdom to acquire the tapes in the first place. And Tony Gash [Snr Lecturer, LDC] for his endless generosity. Thank you.”
Nick (EUR 89 and EAS 90)

“Just to lower the tone …

I remember one lad putting an item in the student newspaper of his first impressions of UEA: ‘Library loos at UEA are made for lads with egg-shaped ar**s!’ The seats were indeed an unusual egg-shape.


Exhibitions were held throughout the 70s and 80s. From Human Clay (1977) to Modern British Photography (1980)

I recall one of the porters on duty, a short, older man, who would regale us in the quieter evening hours with tales of his time in the military police; he was amiable enough, but you didn’t mess with him and try and smuggle books out illicitly!

I also recall some very colourful art exhibitions on the ground floor.

Oh, and I think they had one or two books, but usually the ones you wanted were out!”
Graham (SOC 69-72)

“UEA library was a great library, very welcoming. Especially so when the book on the shelf, the one I wanted to read, had uncut pages (as some European books were bound this way at the time).


‘Grey matter’

I’m sure spending as much time in the library as I did contributed to my choosing a career as a librarian, first in London, then in Solomon Islands and Fiji. My work in Fiji took me to nearly all Pacific island countries and territories, where I carried out training and provided advice on agricultural libraries.

Anyway, I recall that there were some unusually witty graffiti artists in and around the library at the time (1974–1978):

  1. The wit who wrote on one of the concrete pillars outside, ‘Grey matter’
  2. The wit who drew two squares, side by side, on their ends, on the toilet cubicle wall, with the comment ‘Balls to Picasso’
  3. And the same wit, probably, whose comment on the toilet paper that was not just an off-white colour, but had a distinct yellow tinge, ‘I’ve heard of recycling but this is ridiculous'”
    Peter (EUR 74)


Constructing the Library extension in 2004

“I have such fond memories of revising for my finals in Spring/Summer 2004. There was a lot of building work taking place on campus at the time, and I found it provided the perfect white noise focus soundtrack for my revision. I loved sequestering myself in one of the study cubbies, or working with a view over campus from the top floor.”
Graham (BIO 01-04)

Share your memories of the Library with us


UEA Library at 50 (1968-2018). Memories #1

Alumni have been sharing their heart-warming memories. They’ve described the Library as ‘calm’, ‘comfortable’, ‘electrifying’, ‘the pinnacle of luxury’. It’s been viewed with reverential awe, provided great views, shaped careers, forged friendships and so much more.

We’ve also gathered some more general responses from UEA questionnaires, where the Library comes up time and again as a great space, a favourite memory, an enjoyable place to study and as a recommended place to get to know.

Across five decades the Library continues to leave a wide range of enduring impressions. Never static, it’s evolved with its users and continues to look forward.

“UEA library has a special magic to it. It’s where I became not ‘someone who wanted to write a novel’ but ‘a writer’.”
Naomi (MA in Creative Writing, Prose Fiction 03)

“My very first study visit to the Library was at the end of September, 1968. It was an electrifying experience. The combination of synthetic stair carpet and steel handrails gave me an immediate and startling static shock. The experience was often repeated – for me and for others – in those early days!”
Frank (English and American Studies 68-71)

“I was at UEA as an undergraduate 66-69 studying English and American Literature, and stayed to read for a doctorate, with Malcolm Bradbury as my tutor. In November 1970 my daughter Polly was born at home at 13 Suffolk Walk. My wife Penny was doing an MA. I regularly put Poll in her 1950s princess pram outside Suffolk Walk, and checked that she was safe from the windows of my carrel on the top floor of the library. It would be seen as irresponsible and a major risk now – then it was an opportunity for her to meet dozens of Suffolk terrace undergraduates. It was of course distracting, and my PhD was never finished.”
Alan (English and American Literature 66-69)

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“I have such fond memories of revising for my finals in Spring/Summer 2004. There was a lot of building work taking place on campus at the time, and I found it provided the perfect white noise focus soundtrack for my revision. I loved sequestering myself in one of the study cubbies, or working with a view over campus from the top floor.”
Graham (Biological Sciences 01-04)

“I LOVED the library! It had a wonderfully calm atmosphere. The building is well designed with light, open spaces, where you still feel very much part of the life of the university and also private little corners, where you can be alone.

I wish I lived nearer to UEA now, so that I could pop in to the library for some ‘me time’ every now and then.”
Anne (European Studies 88-92, PGCE 94-95)

“Loved the design and views. Spent too much time gazing at countryside. Loved good quality headphones and turntables. Great classical music (as soc sec I got lots of free albums from London but needed opera fix). Loved the chairs in magazine area. Discovered New Yorker magazine for first time. Been based in NYC since 1980. Lastly the coffee machine in the strange subterranean alcove mini lounge near where Nexus TV studio opened circa 71.”
Malcolm (Social Studies and European Studies 71-74)

What are your favourite memories of UEA?

“Apart from the events and nights out, I still remember fondly most of the cohort sitting in the library doing a 24hr stint on Industrial Organization coursework, never have I seen that many people trying to work together/hard on a piece of coursework!”
(Economics; currently working in the banking sector)

“The library early in the morning, hiding out in my favourite spot overlooking the broad and burrowing away into essay writing, also I’m surprised about how much I miss the architecture and concrete!”
(Graduate, now Retail Manager)

“Getting lost in the library – mostly because I forgot which floor I was on …”

“No one day stands out, but I always fondly remember strolling back to Waveney Terrace from the Library after an afternoon’s study on warm summer evenings.”
(Retired Telecoms Consultant who attended UEA in the mid ‘70s)

“One summer day after exams, I took a big stack of books down to the lake, sat by the lake and read all day.”

Share your memories of the Library with us

UEA Library’s 50th Anniversary