How many times when seeing a particularly wonderful textile have you encountered in the description ‘maker unknown’ or anonymous? I know for me when ever I read these words my heart breaks a little. Much of women’s history is undocumented as at the time it the activities that filled the lives of many women were considered to trivial and of minimal interest. Not only do many women of the past remain anonymous but information about the materials they used, the processes they employed, the meanings in their imagery and their stories are lost to us. Imagine if a researcher discovered a treasure trove of diaries kept by these women.
I have been rethinking my attitude to the number of WIP textiles blogs to be found online. These conversations women are having using the diary genre are likely to be invaluable documents for anyone researching textile practice. They are a direct insight to on the ground activities in of textile culture and womens lives in contemporary society.
However, I would like to point out that increasingly as a culture we are producing digital artifacts which are a problem to archive for future researchers. The Internet Archive aims to preserve and make available digital documents for researchers, historians, and scholars. Since 1996 Alexa Internet has been crawling the web, which has resulted in a massive library online.
You can search for sites which are no longer live and since many have been archived a number of times versions of sites. Although the Internet archive contains over 300 terabytes of data unfortunately not all sites have been archived. This has happened because automated crawlers may have missed them and were or still are unaware of the site. I suggest all those that are keeping weblogs of any kind lodge their site with them as in the future what you thought of as trivial today a researcher may consider a gold mine tomorrow.
Another site that is of interest to anyone who is interested in Women’s history is this, as documents from the Women’s Liberation Movement has been placed online by the Special Collections Library at Duke University. This collection of images, flyers, and booklets reflect the activities of the U.S. Women’s Liberation Movement.