Kennedy, Mary (fl. 1970-2016) feminist academic and campaigner

ADMINISTRATIVE/BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY: Mary Kennedy was a feminist academic and advocate for women's higher education and life-long learning opportunities.  

Kennedy identified with the Women's Liberation Movement (WLM) after attending the oversubscribed and highly influential National Women's Liberation Conference, which took place at Ruskin College, Oxford, between 27 February and 1 March 1970. Talking to the Guardian in February 2010, Kennedy said of the conference, ‘There was a real buzz of excitement. As a child I had been very angry about being a girl, in terms of the way that I was treated, because the boys and the men had all the power. Then, here came this turning point, and we were all able to speak out’. Returning to North London, Kennedy jointed the N7 Group, and was involved in research about homeworkers. She also delivered a speech to a marching crowd in Trafalgar Square demanding 24 hour child care. 

Unemployed in London, Kennedy, like many feminists of her generation, began teaching on a part time Women’s Studies course at the Workers Educational Association and London University Extra-Mural Department (a department of Birkbeck College, University of London from1988). Throughout her career, Kennedy saw the discipline shift from a fringe interest to an accepted academic pursuit. She held the position of Senior Lecturer in Women's Studies and Social History at Birkbeck College from 1980 to 1993. 

Kennedy published numerous papers on women’s education. She is author of ‘Revolution in Perspective: People Seeking Change’ (1972, Peter Lowe) and ‘Changing Women’s Education’ with Mary Hughes (1985, Routledge and Kegan Paul). 

In addition to her academic work, Kennedy was Vice-Chair of the London District of the Workers Educational Association, trustee of the Maya Centre and worked as an award assessor of the Feminist Review Trust. She was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Library (part of the LSE Library from 2014). 

The British Library interviewed Kennedy about her experiences of the Women’s Liberation Movement for their ‘Sisterhood and After: the Women's Liberation Oral History Project’, 2010-2013. 

SCOPE AND CONTENT: Papers of Mary Kennedy (1966-2013) including:
- Extensive papers regarding women’s studies courses, and preparation for courses taught by Kennedy. Also includes papers regarding connected topics such as socio-economic opportunities for women; new technologies and women; unpaid housework; representations of women; a women’s university; women and satire; civil unrest in Mexico; world revolutions; communes; childcare; and women’s sexuality.

- Papers regarding groups and organisations including the Feminist Review Trust Awards; Friends of the Fawcett Library; Islington Women’s Counselling Centre; London History Workshop; North Paddington Women’s Centre; Older Women’s Education Group; Older Women’s Education Group; Penn Neighbourhood Community Group’; South East London Women’s History Workshop; UCACE Working Party on Gender and Women in Continuing Education; Women and Philosophy Group; Women’s Education Advisory Committee’ of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education; Women’s Liberation Movement; Women’s Organisations Interest Group of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations; Women’s Studies International Forum; and Women’s Studies Network. Also includes papers about courses at the University of London (Birkbeck College, Hillcroft College, North London University) and the Open University.

- Papers regarding conferences including the Women’s Liberation Conference Oxford, 1970; Women’s Liberation Conference Birmingham, 1971; After Adult Education conference, 1980; European Bureau of Adult Education Conference, 1980; WYE Summer School, 1980; Third International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women, 1987; Women’s Studies National Conference, 1990.

QUANTITY: 27 boxes, 1 oversized folder