Throughout working with the Jessie Street National Women’s Library I have reflected on how we tell women’s history and the stories that get told and those which remains only as memories. Precious to a few, but not important enough to be recorded as more than family heirloom.
With the Jessie Street National Women’s Library I worked alongside the wonderful and friendly volunteers on the Tapestry project. This is project surrounds women’s stories. The Library holds a series of short memoirs , all written by women either about their life, or that of a family member or loved one. These stories vary drastically, covering many time periods are are written by women of all walks of life. Tapestry allows for women to write their own story. They are not focused on writing for an audience but write to honour the people in their lives.
I helped the volunteers make changes to the website to help make the Tapestry stories more discoverable and easier to navigate. I worked alongside them, suggesting ways to improve the website and making social media content to increase the profile of the Tapestry project.
In addition, I created promotional material for this project as it is incredible valuable and I wanted as many people to get the change to read some of the Tapestry stories. These stories provide so much detail into the social history of Australia, from so many diverse points of views. Tapestry allows for family histories to be recorded and for other the learn of the experiences of women.
History is not just what we record, but how we chose to record these stories. The Tapestry project allows for women to be the center of their own narratives. I think this is a method of storytelling that deserves more attention. It is empathetic and empowering. Allowing people to speak about whatever aspect of their life that they think is most critical to history.
There is a vast divide between these self recording histories and larger historical narratives. Tapestry helped me understand why that gap existed, and focus empathy in my historical work .