Kenric (lesbian group)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of Kenric, a lesbian social organisation founded in 1965. Comprises Management Committee papers, 1965-2005; AGM Papers, 1965-2004; constitutional papers, 1966-2003; charitable status papers; 1993-2003; membership papers, 1980s-2004; legal papers, 1990-2004; financial papers, 1966-2004; recruitment papers, 1985-2002; office holder files, 1994-2003; papers relating to sub-groups, 1991-2003; papers relating to publicity, profile development and events, 1968-2005; 25th anniversary papers and Kenric history, 1989-1999; newsletters, 1972-2004; information resources, 1968-2004; and photographs, c1960s-c2000.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kenric was formed from the nucleus of the old Surrey and south-west London section of the Minorities Research Group, the name being an abbreviation of Kensington and Richmond. The aim of the association was to 'remedy the sense of isolation experienced by many lesbians, by arranging meetings, discussions and other activities' and 'to educate public opinion and improve knowledge on the subject of lesbianism'. It was established as a purely social group with no campaigning remit or political affiliations though charitable work for other gay organisations was to be occasionally undertaken. A management committee was formed by the first five members in November 1965 which set about drafting the application form, establishing the British Monomark address for receipt of correspondence and drawing up the Kenric constitution. By January 1966 when the first newsletter was issued and the first social event took place, membership had grown to 45. The monthly newsletter provided a calendar of social events open to members mainly consisting of debates and talks held in central London on subjects such as 'Is there any such a thing as a lesbian?' by Mary McIntosh in Kenric's first year and 'Writing 'The Microcosm'' by Maureen Duffy in 1967. A wide variety of activities were organised by Kenric included social evenings at members' homes and visits to theatres, art galleries, restaurants and the seaside, rambling, barbeques, bring-and-buy sales, camping trips and play readings. Regular Kenric socials were also held at the Gateways club in west London. A library of publications of interest to Kenric members was established. Membership in 1968 had increased to 223 and women were joining from as far afield as County Durham and Yorkshire, though the majority were from the Home Counties. Initially members had to be over 21 to join (though this was reduced to 18 in 1970 and to 16 in the 1999). In 1970, Kenric membership reached 508 after a year with no paid advertising at all and the chair reported that 'we have clearly established ourselves as the largest specifcally homosexual organisation in the United Kingdom'.

In 1984 the constitution was re-drafted as the organisation sought to change with the times, cater for the organisation's younger membership and encourage new women to join. As the organisation became truly national and with a wider age range, subgroups developed around commonalities of location, age and status (the Over 40s group, the Kenric Mothers' Group, Kent & District Subgroup) rather than shared hobbies, and the 1980s saw the demise of the literary, music and dramatic groups which had been so popular in Kenric's early days. In 1992 a charter for subgroups was drawn up and added to the Kenric constitution in order to ensure that subgroups complied with Kenric aims and objectives and to counter the risk that they might develop into separate organisations; in return for this loyalty subsidies were offered.

The late 1980s saw an increase in membership to over 1000 in 1989, over 2000 in 1993, dropping to around 1700 in 1995, a level which the committees sought to maintain for the rest of the decade. The 2000s saw membership fall to around 1300 members and as a result the decrease in revenues led the organisation to deregister for VAT in 2004. The organisation continues in its present structure with membership at around 1200.

Arrangement

Arranged in sections as above

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Kenric in 2005

Other Finding Aids

Detailed list available from Archives staff

Archivist's Note

Sources: Copied from LSE Archives CALM database by Anna Towlson.

Conditions Governing Use

No material may be published without the prior permission of both the copyright holder and the Library. All applications for publication must be made to the Archivist in the first instance, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user.

Corporate Names