Researching around our subjects: Working towards a women’s labour history of trace unions in the British film and television industries
Galt, Frances C.
Film and Screen Media, University College Cork
This article explores the opportunities and obstacles of researching women’s trade union activism in the British film and television industries between 1933 and 2017. The surviving material on women’s union participation is incomplete and fragmented, and so my research has combined an examination of archival material—the union’s journal and the meeting minutes, correspondence and ephemera of three iterations of its equality committee—with new and existing oral history interviews. Sherry J. Katz has termed this methodological approach “researching around our subjects”, which involves “working outward in concentric circles of related sources” to reconstruct women’s experiences (90). While “researching around my subjects” was a challenging and time-consuming process, it was also a rewarding one, producing important insights into union activism as it relates to gender and breaking new ground in both women’s labour and women’s film and television history. This article concludes with a case study on the appointment of Sarah Benton as researcher for the ACTT’s Patterns report in 1973, revealing the benefits of this methodological approach in reconstructing events which have been effectively erased from the official record.
Women’s labour history , Trade unions , British film and television industries , Archival research , Oral history
Galt, F. C. (2021) 'Researching around our subjects: Working towards a women’s labour history of trace unions in the British film and television industries ', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 20, pp. 166-188. https://doi.org/10.33178/alpha.20.12