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National Archives funding success for project challenging gender bias in the archive

Funded by a National Archives Research and Innovation grant, Dr Stacy Gillis is working with Robinson Library Special Collections to explore gender bias in archive catalogues

25 January 2024

Finding her name in the archive

 A project to make it easier to find women's histories in the Robinson Library's archive holdings has been funded by a National Archives Research and Innovation Grant

  Dr Stacy Gillis, who leads the cross-Faculty Gender Research Group, will be working with Ian Johnson, Head of Special Collections, and Dr Lucy Havens of Edinburgh University on a project that aims to uncover gender bias in the way that Special Collections’ archives have historically been catalogued. Using machine-learning models developed by Dr Havens, Special Collections will evaluate its catalogues for gender bias in terms of how its holdings are named and described.

For example, Special Collections holds the archive of Sir Charles and Lady Mary Trevelyan (pictured), but, deposited in 1967, it is catalogued as the  Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive. The project digs deep into historical cataloguing practices looking for other instances where cataloguing practices overlook, ignore, or even erase women’s presence in their archives.

 Dr Gillis explains:  This exciting project allows for two strengths of Newcastle – gender studies and archival work – to come together in asking, how and why have our collections been catalogued, managed, curated and used in terms of gender bias?  There are widespread implications here for all our other collections, and for collections across the UK and beyond. 




Sir Charles and Lady Mary Trevelyan