Guide to the Carla Kirkwood Collection MS 208

Finding aid prepared by Alison Hennessey
Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.
San Diego History Center Document Collection
1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101
April 17, 2012

Title: Carla Kirkwood Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MS 208
Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 3.5 Linear feet (5 boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1969-2011
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English and Spanish.
Abstract: The collection pertains to social activist Carla Kirkwood and is related to her interest in women’s rights, the working class, and her art projects.
creator: Kirkwood, Carla

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Alison Hennessey on April 17, 2012.
Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

Preferred Citation

Carla Kirkwood Collection, MS 208, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 2000.050.


The collection is arranged into five series:
Series I: Women’s Studies Program, San Diego State College
Series II: Women’s Issues
Series III: Labor and Unions
Series IV: NGO Forum on Women, Beijing ‘95
Series V: Art Projects
Items within each series are arranged by subject. Original order and/or titles have been retained for most of the collection.

Separated Materials

"Iron Fist" (newspaper), Volume II, Number 5, 7, and 9, previously separated.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Born into a military family in San Diego, Carla Kirkwood is an Emmy-winning writer, director, and social activist. Kirkwood’s activism has focused on women’s liberation and issues of the working class. In 1969, as a student at San Diego State College, she helped found the nation’s first women’s studies program. From 1974-1977, Kirkwood was active in the International Association of Machinists in San Diego. She was also safety steward for the United Steel Workers Local 1010 at Inland Steel Corporation in East Chicago, Indiana, before turning her attention to theater.
Kirkwood studied classical and contemporary Chinese Theater from 1982-1984 at the Central Drama Academy in Beijing, China, earning a graduate degree in performance studies. In 1986 she received her Master’s of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Leeds in England with an emphasis in global performance practices. Kirkwood received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in theater and dance.
Kirkwood is an accomplished writer and director, winning three Emmy awards for her work with KPBS-TV, the San Diego Public Broadcasting affiliate. Kirkwood’s artwork and performances often deal with social issues she would like to draw attention to. In the early 1990s, Kirkwood received acclaim for the public art project “NHI” (No Humans Involved) and the accompanying performance piece “MWI” (Many Women Involved), which drew attention to the unsolved murders of 45 San Diego women. Two of Kirkwood’s solo performances, “War Diaries” and “Bodies of Evidence” were performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the mid-1990s. Her collaborative public art projects include “There Are 206 Bones in the Human Body” (1988) and “Welcome Back Emma! We Have Missed You So!” (1989).
From 1994-1997 Kirkwood was a visiting professor of theater and art at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1995 she attended the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women and the parallel NGO Forum on Women, in Beijing. She currently holds a faculty position at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, where she has worked for over 20 years.

Scope and Content

The collection contains materials pertaining to the activities of social activist of Carla Kirkwood as they relate to women’s issues, unions, and the working class, and her art projects. Publications regarding women’s liberation in the 1960s and 1970s are held in the collection, including board meeting documents related to the founding of the San Diego State College Women’s Studies Program in 1969 through the early 1970s. The collection also includes publications and flyers regarding union and labor activities in the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as flyers regarding an Ironworkers union strike in August of 1980 from the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO). There are pamphlets, reports and flyers on international women’s issues from the NGO Forum on Women ’95 in Beijing, China and the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in August and September 1995, both of which she attended. The collection also includes publicity for Kirkwood’s art projects, as well as scripts and VHS recordings of her performances.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Asian Women's Human Rights Council.
Industrial Workers of the World.
International Association of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Iron Workers. Local 627 (San Diego, Calif.).
Kirkwood, Carla
National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (San Diego, Calif.).
New York Radical Feminists.
NGO Forum on Women, Beijing ’95 (1995 : Huairou Xian, China).
San Diego State College.
San Diego Young Women’s Christian Association Women’s Center.
World Conference on Women (4th : 1995 : Beijing, China).
Feminist theory
Goodbye To All That
Kitty Litter
Labor unions and communism
Labor unions and socialism
Performance art
Political activists
Prensa Popular
Public art
San Diego (Calif.)
San Diego Wildcat
Second-wave feminism
Socialist feminism
Underground newspapers
Up From The Bottom Waterfront Worker
Women -- China
Women -- History
Women -- India
Women -- Iran -- Social conditions
Women -- Ireland -- Social conditions
Women -- Japan -- Social conditions
Women -- Korea -- Social conditions
Women -- Latin America -- Social conditions
Women -- New Zealand -- Social conditions
Women -- Philippines
Women -- Social conditions
Women -- Thailand -- Social conditions
Women -- Turkey -- Social conditions
Women and communism
Women and socialism
Women in education
Women in the theater
Women iron and steel workers
Women political activists
Women theatrical producers and directors
Women's studies


Series I: Women's Studies Program, San Diego State College

Box-folder 1:1

Women's Studies Program introduction, description and courses, 1969

Box-folder 1:2

Board Meetings, 1970–1971 and undated


Information on formation of the board including duties and organization.
Meeting minutes and agendas.
Board roster with contact information, correspondence and curriculum material.
Box-folder 1:3

Board Meetings, 1973 February 1–April 26 and undated


Procedural documents, meeting minutes and agendas.
Box-folder 1:4

“Readings for Women’s Studies,” 1970-1971

Scope and Content

Essays and poetry on women’s issues and feminism.
Box-folder 1:5

Socialist-Feminist papers, 1973-1974

Box-folder 1:6

“The 2nd Revolution: Newsletter of the Women’s Studies Program,” 1971

Box-folder 5:1

“The 2nd Revolution: Newsletter of the Women’s Studies Program” undated

Box-folder 1:7

“Women’s Movement in San Diego” (paper) 1972 September

Box-folder 1:8

"San Diego State 1970: The Initial Year of the Nation's First Women's Studies Program" (publication), 2011

Box-folder 1:9

Women's Union, 1970 November 9 and undated

Box-folder 1:10

"Certain Qualities" (script), 1971


Series II: Women's Issues

Box-folder 1:11

“Birth Control Handbook,” 1970

Box-folder 1:12

“No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation,” 1969

Box-folder 1:13

“Sappho ‘71” (poetry book), 1971

Box-folder 1:14

Booklet on Asian women, 1971

Box-folder 1:15

“On the Liberation of Women in Albania” (report), 1972

Box-folder 1:16

Booklets on Women in the Working Class, 1970-1974

Box-folder 1:17

Women Studies Collective: “Toward a Scientific Analysis of the Gay Question,” undated

Box-folder 1:18

“What Have Women Done? A Photo Essay on the History of Working Women in the United States” (booklet), 1974

Box-folder 1:19

New York Radical Feminists, 1970

Box-folder 1:20

“A Communist View of Trade Unions” (booklet), 1975

Box-folder 5:2

"Goodbye to All That: The Newspaper by San Diego Women," 1970–1971

Box-folder 5:3

"Goodbye to All That: The Newspaper by San Diego Women," 1972-1973

Box-folder 5:4

"RAT" (newspaper), 1969

Box-folder 5:5

"RAT" (newspaper), 1970


Series III: Labor and Unions

Box-folder 2:1

Shopmen’s Local Union No. 627 Strike flyers, 1980 August 8-14

Box-folder 2:2

NASSCO Strike, 1980-1981 and undated


Flyers, reports, correspondence and articles regarding Ironworker International placing Local 627 under trusteeship after the strike at NASSCO.
Box-folder 2:3

Working Class Unity League, 1970

Box-folder 2:4

Communist Movement documents, 1975 May and undated

Box-folder 2:5

YWCA Women’s Center flyers and newsletters, 1970 April 29-1973 April 12 and undated

Box-folder 2:6

“Cannery Workers Service Center” (newsletter), 1980 May

Box-folder 5:6

“How San Diego Took Care of its Wobblies” (article), 1977 March 10-16

Box-folder 5:7

"San Diego Wildcat" (newspaper) (some in Spanish), 1972-1974

Box-folder 5:8

"Kitty Litter" (newspaper), 1972 May

Box-folder 5:9

"Prensa Popular" (newspaper), 1974 September 11 and undated

Box-folder 5:10

"Up From the Bottom" (newspaper), 1974 December–1975 January and undated

Box-folder 5:11

"Waterfront Worker" (newspaper), 1975 April 23-May 21


Series IV: NGO Forum on Women, Beijing '95

Box-folder 2:7

Forum information packet and funding, 1995 March 7-July 25 and undated

Box-folder 2:8

Asian Women’s Human Rights Council, 1995 September 2

Box-folder 2:9

Australian Aborigines, 1995 August

Box-folder 2:10

Black Women’s Rape Action Project (England), Women Against Rape, 1995 August 31

Box-folder 2:11

“Crossroads Books Distribution Collective,” 1995

Box-folder 2:12

China, Workshop of Women and Literature in China, 1995 September and undated

Box-folder 2:13

Draft Platform for Action, 1995 May 24


Proposals for consideration in the preparation of a draft declaration by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for the Fourth World Conference on Women, September 4-15, 1995.
Box-folder 2:14

Filipino Women, 1995

Box-folder 2:15

Housework Campaign, Wages for, 1995

Box-folder 2:16

India, Women of, 1995

Box-folder 2:17

International Network of Women of Color In Preparation for the UN 4th World Conference on Women, 1995

Box-folder 2:18

Iran, Activities of BASEEJ Women Volunteers, 1995

Box-folder 2:19

Japan, Women of, 1995

Box-folder 2:20

Korean Women’s Video Presentations. 1995

Box-folder 2:21

Latin America, Women of, 1995


Activities of the 4th Conference on Women-Beijing 1995, Columbian Women’s Social Movement Facilitating Committee
Box-folder 2:22

New Zealand, Women of, 1995

Box-folder 2:34

“Violence Against Women – The Hidden Health Burden,” World Bank Discussion Papers, 1995

Box-folder 2:23

"No Limits For Women Project," 1995

Box-folder 2:24

Overseas Domestic Workers, Kalayaan, 1995

Box-folder 2:25

Population and environment, 1995

Box-folder 2:26

Rape Crisis Center-Dublin, 1995

Box-folder 2:27

“Sexual Exploitation Worldwide, Sex Trafficking, Sex Tourism, and Prostitution,” 1995

Box-folder 2:28

Structural Adjustment Programs, 1995

Box-folder 2:29

Thailand, Women of, 1995

Box-folder 2:30

Theatre, Women’s Circus, International Playback Theatre Team, 1995


“All in a Woman’s Family” (script)
Box-folder 2:31

Theatre Performances/Cultural Activities, 1995


Women’s Circus
“Vampire Shock!” Feminist Performance
“Look at the World Through Women’s Eyes” program book
Box-folder 2:32

Third World Movement Against Exploitation of Women, 1995

Box-folder 2:33

Turkey – Women’s Counseling Center/Shelter Information, 1995

Box-folder 2:35

“Women and War” Brochure, International Committee of the Red Cross, 1995

Box-folder 2:36

Women’s Liberation Worldwide newsletter, 1995

Box-folder 2:37

Xenophobic Representation of Conference, 1995


Email message summarizing the NGO Forum on Women.
Box-folder 2:38

Chinese Women Directors Interviews, 1995


Interview transcripts of: Carla Kirkwood and Lin Yin Yu, Director of “Youth Art Theatre;” Carla Kirkwood and Zhang Qihong, Director of Theatre at “Central Drama Academy;” and Carla Kirkwood and Chen Rong, Director of the “Youth Art Theatre.”
Box-folder 3:1

"Time Capsule, A Concise Encyclopedia by Women Artists," Robin Kahn ed. (book), 1995

Box-folder 3:2

U.S. Department of State bulletins, 1995 July-September


“Remarks of Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations concerning the 4th World Conference on Women,” August 2, 1995.
“U.S. Delegation to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women,” August 7, 1995.
“Security Guidance/Information,” August 2, 1995.
“Background on the U.N. World Conference on Women leading to the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace, September 4-15, 1995 and the parallel NGO Forum ’95, August 30 – September 8, 1995, Beijing, China.”
Box-folder 5:12

"Forum ’95" (newspaper), 1995 September 2-4

Box-folder 3:3

Maps of China, 1995


Maps of Beijing
Map of NGO Forum on Women 1995
Tourist Map of China

Series V: Art Projects

Box-folder 3:4

Press books (2), 1984–2005 and undated


Flyers for, and images of, art projects.
Reviews of art projects in various publications.
Box-folder 3:5

“Your Mama and Your Sister and Your Girlfriend,” 1982-1986


Background information, press, and script for “Your Mama and Your Sister and Your Girlfriend” performance.
Box-folder 3:6

“There Are 206 Bones In The Human Body,” 1988


Book to accompany performance by Las Gringas Performance Group.
Box-folder 3:7

“Woyzeck and Maria on East 94,” 1989 April 29–May 5 and undated


Background information, press, and script for “Woyzeck and Maria on East 94,” performed April 29, 1989 at Sushi, Inc.
Box-folder 3:8

“Woyzeck and Maria on East 94” (VHS tape), 1989

Box-folder 3:9

"Welcome Back Emma," 1989 October 6-November 19 and undated


Background information, press and contracts for the art project “Welcome Back Emma,” performed November 2, 1989.
Box-folder 3:10

“Off The Back Burner: An Opinion Show,” 1989 October 20–November 25

Scope and Content

Essays by San Diego artists and arts professionals to accompany a group exhibition at Sushi, Inc.
Box-folder 4:1

"America's Finest?", 1990 September 1-1991 April 24


Background information and press regarding the group public art project.
Box-folder 4:2

“NHI” (No Humans Involved), 1990 September 6-1993 March 25


Background information regarding the public art project “NHI” (No Humans Involved), funding and business contracts.
Newspaper, magazine, and television press.
Public official and community response to the art project.
Box-folder 4:3

“MWI” (Many Women Involved), 1992-1994


Background information, press and script for the art performance “MWI.”
Flyer for the book, Critical Condition: Women on the Edge of Violence, edited by Amy Scholder, which contains the script for “MWI.”
Box-folder 4:4

"MWI" (Many Women Involved) (VHS tape), 1992

Box-folder 4:5

"Bodies of Evidence" (VHS tape), 1993-1995

Box-folder 4:6

"War Diaries," 1996 August 6-1997 November 25 and undated


Flyer for “War Diaries” performance at Whitney Museum of American Art, December 18-19, 1996.
Images, press, and script for “War Diaries.”
Box-folder 4:7

"War Diaries" (VHS tape), 1996-1997

Box-folder 4:8

Performance work (photographic slides), 1985-1993


“Your Mama and Your Sister and Your Girlfriend,” May 1985
New Image Teen Theatre, Public Schools Tour, May 1987
“The Strong Breed,” Installation Gallery, 1989
“There Are 206 Bones in The Human Body,” Las Gringas Performance Group, Sushi, Inc., Neofest 1988
“Woyzeck and Maria on East 94,” Sushi, Inc., Neofest 1989
“Red Emma Returns” 1989
“MWI,” January 1993
“Bodies of Evidence,” 1993