The Missing Archive
Over the years, we maintained an archival record that filled file cabinets with correspondence, contracts, and press clippings; promotional materials representing hundreds of cultural events; rolls of posters from events in Japan, Mexico, Kentucky, and California; video and audio recordings of performances, and behind-the-scenes network building.
Unfortunately, the facility where our holdings were kept was not secure and the material was sold without the consent or knowledge of any Roadwork representative. This precious archive is now gone and possibly destroyed. Twenty years of irreplaceable cultural artifacts documenting unique musical performances, hard-won coalitions, and local organizing may be lost forever.
The lack of archival records leaves the experience of our communities open to distortion in, or even deletion from, the historical record.
The decades of the 1970s and 1980s are often dismissed, even though it was a time transformed by the exuberance of women’s movements; the floodgates of cultural expression opened by lesbian/gay movements; the urgent responses to violations of human rights, international social justice, and nuclear madness, and the continuities of African-American civil rights movements and labor movements of earlier decades.
In this new home, we hope to collect original and duplicated artifacts, documents, recordings, and oral histories covering the evolution of Sisterfire (1982-1988), our building of the Sweet Honey in the Rock anniversary tradition (1978-present), the Varied Voices of Black Women tour (1978), Cris Williamson’s Flying Colors Tour, Holly Near’s anti-nuclear tour of 1979, events featuring Toshi Reagon, Laura Nyro, Kate Clinton, June Jordan, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Lucha, The Wallflower Order Dance Collective, Alexis Dupree, The Urban Bush Women, and so many others.
This archive will become a source of authentic grassroots and multi-ethnic women’s memories that will offer a creative and life-affirming vision for future activists and those trying to reveal the truth of what came before.
Mindful of the many years that have passed since Roadwork provided a venue and home for women artists of all colors and a training ground for coalition building among organizers, we hope it is not too late to gather together again these scraps of paper and personal recollections into a new archive that will be accessible to the public and protected for the future. We have a secure home for the material: the Center for Folklore Studies of the Ohio State University, where the original materials will be stored and copied into digital format so that they can be made available to the public.
Amy Horowitz, Kathy Glimn, Ruby Sales, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Pam Rogers, Holly Near, Jane Treat, Penny Rosenwasser
What we lost:
– Files detailing every concert or tour Roadwork was involved in: contracts, correspondence, press clippings, promotional materials, evaluations
– Roadwork Board meeting notes, annual budgets, grant applications
– Sisterfire planning, production, and post- production materials, 1982-1988
– Documents related to community coalition building, how to promote and book performing artists, how to put on a community-based cultural event
– Video and audio recording; radio interviews, taping of live performances (audio and video)
– Documentary interviews of performers
– The collective memory of twenty years
What we have recovered so far:
– Some Roadwork Board notes from 1985 to 1996
– Sisterfire programs 1982-1988, some other Sisterfire planning and post-production evaluations, 1986-1988
– Audio masters from Sisterfire 1986
– DC Council for the Arts grant documents, 1985-1988
Do you have anything to contribute to the archive? Here’s what we’re looking for:
– Original or photocopy contracts, promotional materials, news clippings, correspondence
– Audio or video recordings of any promotional or concert performances (no questions asked)
– Be aware of and take note of posters, photographs, or recordings being offered for sale: They must be part of Roadwork’s lost archive.
– Names and contact information for others who have memories and documents to share
– Your memories! They could help us build a timeline of events. Did you have a relationship with Roadwork? If so, tell us about it!
What groups did you work with?
Did you attend events? Where? When? Was it a benefit? Did it make money Was it successful as a cultural event? Did it lead to something else? What were the struggles involved?