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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitlePapers of Berta Freistadt
Ref No7BFR
Box Fetch NoBoxes 01-02 (publications)
LevelCollection
Date1950-1984
Extent5 T boxes, 20.5 A boxes, 2 poster tubes and 2 packages (2 A boxes of publications catalogued, remainder uncatalogued) (4 T boxes of publications were transfered to PC in Mar 2010)
Admin Biographical HistoryBerta Rosa Freistadt (1942-2009) was born 20 Jan 1942. Her father, Ludwig (Laci, Louis) Freistadt, (1904-1963), a Jewish refugee, was also an amateur photographer. Her mother, Esther Guthrie (1899-1991) and father met in an English class which Esther was teaching. During WWII the family home in Battersea was bombed and Berta was evacuated with her mother to Flint in Wales. On their return they moved to Chelsea and then Wimbledon. Berta attended Wimbledon County Girls School where she became involved with a drama group. Berta excelled at acting and art, achieving seven O levels and two A levels. After leaving school Berta worked as a canteen assistant and studied theatre at the City Literary Institute, London. She then worked as a dresser at the Royal Court Theatre before performing in plays and working as an assistant stage manager in Perth theatre, Scotland. It was during this period that Berta’s father died of pancreatic cancer. Berta next attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in order to train as a drama teacher. She subsequently taught in Newham for eight years before moving to a mixed housing co-op. She then joined Sidewalk Theatre Company which was a community theatre where she was able to write, direct, act and paint scenery. This role ended with the withdrawal of funding by the Arts Council of Great Britain and Berta went on to work as a puppeteer. By this time Berta had come out as a lesbian and worked as lesbian outreach officer for North Paddington Women’s Centre during 1982. Berta then proceeded to work as a supply teacher before studying for a BA at East London Polytechnic. She then worked as a part time tutor for lesbian creative writing classes at Birkbeck College. Over the next seventeen years Berta continued teaching creative writing, memoir and poetry at Birkbeck as well as The Mary Ward Centre, the WEA, City Literary Institute, the Spread the Word Literature Project and many other institutions. In 1991 Berta joined Beit Klal Ysrael, a radical Jewish congregation. In 1997 Berta obtained her second degree, an MA in Screen Writing. Her poems were published in various magazines and anthologies and she also won various awards and prizes for her writing. In 2004 her first book, Flood Warning, was published by Five Leaves.
DescriptionThe archive consists of personal papers including material regarding the North Paddington Women's Centre, the Women's Free Art Alliance, women's studies conferences (c.1980-c.2000) and other papers concerned with the feminist movement; feminist posters (27), feminist postcards and periodicals; four textile pieces entitled 'Spectacle', 'Dreams and Promises', 'Table Setting' and 'Like Mother Like daughter'; Berta Freistadt's brownie uniform, a Women's Liberation T-shirt, a hand decorated T-shirt and another printed T-shirt.
Related MaterialBerta Freistadt has donated over fifty badges which are the main basis for The Women’s Library modern badge collection. Personal papers can also be found at the Bristol Drama Departments Theatre Archive and the Lesbian Archive in Glasgow.
Related RecordTWL.badges
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThis collection is partially available for research. The catalogued portion of the collection is available for research (printed materials), uncatalogued material (archives) remain unavailable. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library @ LSE in advance of their first visit.
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