Papers of Sarah Meyer relating to Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This is a small collection which consists of files covering Sarah Meyer’s involvement in the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp during the years 1982 - 1985, and her travels in Europe to attend peace conferences and take part in peace protests over the same period. The files contain a mixture of newsletters, circulars, photographs, correspondence, leaflets, posters, postcards and press cuttings. A great deal of this material was created by women living at the peace camp. The correspondence includes letters addressed to the peace camp collectively.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sarah Meyer’s involvement in the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp dates from the mass direct action which took place there on 12/13 December 1982. Under the slogan ‘Embrace the base on Sunday, close the base on Monday’, 30,000 women gathered at Greenham, formed a human chain around the base and decorated the fence. The following day a group of around 2,000 blockaded the gates to the base. Sarah arrived at Greenham as part of a local group, Totnes Women for Peace.

From her home in Salcombe, she acted as the South West contact for a national network of supporters of the Greenham Women. By April 1983, she had become co-ordinator of Greenham Southwest, bringing together almost 50 women’s groups in Devon and Cornwall. Supporting vigils and demonstrations were organised in the region to coincide with actions at Greenham and trials of those arrested. A good example of this was International Women’s Day for Disarmament on 24 May 1983. Sarah was heavily involved in planning for 55 actions across the South West, including a blockade at Devonport dockyard in Plymouth and a demonstration at Bolt Head nuclear bunker.

Sarah’s work was marked by the links which she developed within the women’s peace movement, not only in Britain, but also in Germany, Sweden and Hungary. Through involvement in European Nuclear Disarmament (END) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Sarah travelled around Europe in her ‘Greenham rainbow bus’ attending conferences, and joining peace camps, marches and demonstrations.

This began in May 1983 when she attended the END Convention in Berlin. In July, she crossed briefly into Eastern Europe to visit a peace camp in Budapest, following up contacts between END and the Hungarian Peace Group for Dialogue. She took part in two major peace marches, from Dortmund to Brussels, 9 July to 6 August and from Berlin to Geneva, 6 August to 17 September. During the Fast for Life which preceded the march from Berlin, significant links were made with East German peace campaigners. Sarah returned to Berlin in October 1983 to join a human chain along the Berlin Wall. Both of these actions were organised by the Women for Peace group in West Berlin. In January 1984, she was part of a group of women peace activists who travelled to Stockholm for an Alternative Peace Conference. This was planned to coincide with the Stockholm Conference on Confidence and Security Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe. Sarah was arrested whilst taking part in a temporary peace camp set up outside the Stockholm Conference.

Sarah returned to Greenham many times to live at the peace camp and take part in direct action, and was frequently arrested. There is evidence in her correspondence to suggest that she lived at the Main Gate (later Yellow Gate) camp. She recounted in later life one of the most memorable actions, at Hallowe’en 1983, when thousands of women cut through the security fence around the base in protest at the imminent arrival of the first cruise missiles. She was one of hundreds arrested.

Sarah described many of her experiences abroad and at Greenham in articles published in the magazine Women For Life on Earth and in her own ‘Rainbow Bus’ newsletter. She did not return to live at the camp after the evictions of February 1984.

Sarah worked as a registered homeopath for many years. In retirement she devoted her time to researching foreign policy and defence issues (especially the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq), and on human rights and civil liberties. She began her own blog, Index Research, in 2005, to disseminate her research. She was an active member of the BRussells Tribunal and sat on its advisory committee. This group campaigns against American foreign policy in the Middle East and aims to link resistance movements in the region with western peace movements.

Sarah was married to Karl Meyer for 12 years and together they had three children, Heather, Jonathan and Ernest. She died at her home in Sussex on 3 March 2010.

Arrangement

Arranged in a single chronological sequence, based on the order created by Sarah Meyer.

Conditions Governing Access

Available to researchers, by appointment. Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Commonweal Collection by Sarah Meyer.

Archivist's Note

Described by Helen Roberts, May 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

A few items transferred to pamphlet collection.

Accruals

None expected

Related Material

Archives of Women for Life on Earth, Glamorgan Record Office (GB 0214 DWLE)

Archives of Yellow Gate camp, Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, The Women’s Library (GB 0106 5GCW)