Dec 012014

Making Room for Women (MRW) is a coordinated effort to identify and preserve personal papers of United Church of Canada women and the records of organizations in which they have participated.

A key period of women’s work, struggle, and leadership in the United Church, which coincided with the popularization of feminism in the wider culture, is now becoming history. Organizations created over the past 50 years by women in both the United Church and the ecumenical church, such as the Movement for Christian Feminism, the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, and the Centre for Christian Studies, are attracting scholarly interest. As leaders of the period are aging, it is a critical time to identify the streams of this history and to ensure that the experiences of its participants are collected for the archives––in personal papers, organizational records, and oral histories.

The project is committed to gathering the stories of all women, reaching out to women from a diversity of experience and backgrounds. Activities include: collecting papers, biographies, records, minutes, photos, and oral histories. A brochure outlining the initiative is available.

MRW for Women Oral History in Winnipeg

The Archives and Records Committee decided to support efforts to collect oral histories of women church leaders. A pilot for a larger project was undertaken in 2013 when Pat Wotton interviewed Eleanor Geib, resulting in this biography. Eleanor was a fitting choice. Her journey through ministry from her beginnings as a Deaconess, subsequently ordained and then called to serve a large urban congregation is a good example of women making a path into leadership. Eleanor is a lively storyteller, with a good memory for details. Funds have been raised to enable a larger project in 2015. The General Council Archives has developed an Oral History Kit to support the collection of oral history.

Making Room for Women has also been the focus of Archives displays at Annual Meetings and presentations to groups such as United Church Women.