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The Roadwork Archives Online

We're looking for your memories.

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There are points in history when purpose unites people across boundaries, and new meanings and relationships are forged into social movements.  Cultural arts production committed to the transformation of community and society provides such an arena:  performances that intentionally draw together diverse audiences, performers, and producers support our lives and our right to be.  Do you remember the first time you sat in a room of strangers brought close by the sharing of music, poetry, or dance?  In that moment, we found the energy to move forward to another day.  But it is our individual and collective memories, along with some scraps of paper - flyers, posters, programs, set lists - that are the tangible evidence of our work after the event is over, the lights struck, and the sound equipment loaded out.

Sweet Honey in the Rock - 1978

Varied Voices of Black Women

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.

Sisterfire Draws 3000
The Missing Archive
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.

Catching Fire

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.

Deaf Women's FestDeaf Women's Fest

Rebuilding the Collection

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.

Activities Schedule
Tour Dates

Holly Near

Sisterfire-Bringing Together
Toshi Reagon

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.  The connection across boundary lines that we made will be continued into the future.

How You Can Help

If you are interested in helping us build the Roadwork archive, please see our Inventory page.  There you will find a list of what we lost, what we found, and what you can do.

Thank you for being part of the restoration of this important cultural resource.

"One thing I see, is that part of remembering our own history requires real accountability of experience. I went out and bought a package of carbon paper today."
(Amy Horowitz to Holly Near, 26 March 1976).

Amy Horowitz, Kathy Glimn, Ruby Sales, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Pam Rogers, Holly Near, Jane Treat, Penny Rosenwasser

We can be contacted via:
Women's Music Festival

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