MS 208 Carla Kirkwood Collection

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Kirkwood, Carla
Carla Kirkwood Collection
MS 208
Date [inclusive]
3.5 Linear feet (5 boxes)
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English and Spanish.
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.

Preferred Citation

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection April 17, 2012

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Revision Description

December 20, 2012

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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 2000.050.

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.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials

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

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • 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.).
  • 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).
  • YWCA.

Geographic Name(s)

  • San Diego (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Kirkwood, Carla


  • Art
  • Communism
  • Feminism
  • Feminist theory
  • Homosexuality
  • Labor unions and communism
  • Labor unions and socialism
  • Performance art
  • Political activists
  • Public art
  • Second-wave feminism
  • Socialism
  • Socialist feminism
  • Theater
  • Underground newspapers
  • 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

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Collection Inventory

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

Women’s Studies Program introduction, description and courses, 1969 1:1
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.

Board Meetings, 1973 February 1–April 26 and undated


Procedural documents, meeting minutes and agendas.

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

Scope and Content:

Essays and poetry on women’s issues and feminism.

Socialist-Feminist papers, 1973-1974 1:5
“The 2nd Revolution: Newsletter of the Women’s Studies Program,” 1971 1:6
“The 2nd Revolution: Newsletter of the Women’s Studies Program” undated 5:1
“Women’s Movement in San Diego” (paper) 1972 September 1:7
“San Diego State 1970: The Initial Year of the Nation’s First Women’s Studies Program” (publication), 2011 1:8
Women’s Union, 1970 November 9 and undated 1:9
“Certain Qualities” (script), 1971 1:10

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 Series II: Women’s Issues

“Birth Control Handbook,” 1970 1:11
“No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation,” 1969 1:12
“Sappho ‘71” (poetry book), 1971 1:13
Booklet on Asian women, 1971 1:14
“On the Liberation of Women in Albania” (report), 1972 1:15
Booklets on Women in the Working Class, 1970-1974 1:16
Women Studies Collective: “Toward a Scientific Analysis of the Gay Question,” undated 1:17
“What Have Women Done? A Photo Essay on the History of Working Women in the United States” (booklet), 1974 1:18
New York Radical Feminists, 1970 1:19
“A Communist View of Trade Unions” (booklet), 1975 1:20
“Goodbye to All That: The Newspaper by San Diego Women,” 1970–1971 5:2
“Goodbye to All That: The Newspaper by San Diego Women,” 1972-1973 5:3
“RAT” (newspaper), 1969 5:4
“RAT” (newspaper), 1970 5:5

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 Series III: Labor and Unions

Shopmen’s Local Union No. 627 Strike flyers, 1980 August 8-14 2:1
NASSCO Strike, 1980-1981 and undated


Flyers, reports, correspondence and articles regarding Ironworker International placing Local 627 under trusteeship after the strike at NASSCO.

Working Class Unity League, 1970 2:3
Communist Movement documents, 1975 May and undated 2:4
YWCA Women’s Center flyers and newsletters, 1970 April 29-1973 April 12 and undated 2:5
“Cannery Workers Service Center” (newsletter), 1980 May 2:6
“How San Diego Took Care of its Wobblies” (article), 1977 March 10-16 5:6
“San Diego Wildcat” (newspaper) (some in Spanish), 1972-1974 5:7
“Kitty Litter” (newspaper), 1972 May 5:8
“Prensa Popular” (newspaper), 1974 September 11 and undated 5:9
“Up From the Bottom” (newspaper), 1974 December–1975 January and undated 5:10
“Waterfront Worker” (newspaper), 1975 April 23-May 21 5:11

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 Series IV: NGO Forum on Women, Beijing ’95

Forum information packet and funding, 1995 March 7-July 25 and undated 2:7
Asian Women’s Human Rights Council, 1995 September 2 2:8
Australian Aborigines, 1995 August 2:9
Black Women’s Rape Action Project (England), Women Against Rape, 1995 August 31 2:10
“Crossroads Books Distribution Collective,” 1995 2:11
China, Workshop of Women and Literature in China, 1995 September and undated 2:12
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.

Filipino Women, 1995 2:14
Housework Campaign, Wages for, 1995 2:15
India, Women of, 1995 2:16
International Network of Women of Color In Preparation for the UN 4th World Conference on Women, 1995 2:17
Iran, Activities of BASEEJ Women Volunteers, 1995 2:18
Japan, Women of, 1995 2:19
Korean Women’s Video Presentations. 1995 2:20
Latin America, Women of, 1995


Activities of the 4th Conference on Women-Beijing 1995, Columbian Women’s Social Movement Facilitating Committee

New Zealand, Women of, 1995 2:22
“Violence Against Women – The Hidden Health Burden,” World Bank Discussion Papers, 1995 2:34
“No Limits For Women Project,” 1995 2:23
Overseas Domestic Workers, Kalayaan, 1995 2:24
Population and environment, 1995 2:25
Rape Crisis Center-Dublin, 1995 2:26
“Sexual Exploitation Worldwide, Sex Trafficking, Sex Tourism, and Prostitution,” 1995 2:27
Structural Adjustment Programs, 1995 2:28
Thailand, Women of, 1995 2:29
Theatre, Women’s Circus, International Playback Theatre Team, 1995


“All in a Woman’s Family” (script)

Theatre Performances/Cultural Activities, 1995


Women’s Circus

“Vampire Shock!” Feminist Performance

“Look at the World Through Women’s Eyes” program book

Third World Movement Against Exploitation of Women, 1995 2:32
Turkey – Women’s Counseling Center/Shelter Information, 1995 2:33
“Women and War” Brochure, International Committee of the Red Cross, 1995 2:35
Women’s Liberation Worldwide newsletter, 1995 2:36
Xenophobic Representation of Conference, 1995


Email message summarizing the NGO Forum on Women.

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.”

“Time Capsule, A Concise Encyclopedia by Women Artists,” Robin Kahn ed. (book), 1995 3:1
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.”

“Forum ’95” (newspaper), 1995 September 2-4 5:12
Maps of China, 1995


Maps of Beijing

Map of NGO Forum on Women 1995

Tourist Map of China


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 Series V: Art Projects

Press books (2), 1984–2005 and undated


Flyers for, and images of, art projects.

Reviews of art projects in various publications.

“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.

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


Book to accompany performance by Las Gringas Performance Group.

“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.

“Woyzeck and Maria on East 94” (VHS tape), 1989 3:8
“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.

“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.

“America’s Finest?”, 1990 September 1-1991 April 24


Background information and press regarding the group public art project.

“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.

“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.”

“MWI” (Many Women Involved) (VHS tape), 1992 4:4
“Bodies of Evidence” (VHS tape), 1993-1995 4:5
“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.”

“War Diaries” (VHS tape), 1996-1997 4:7
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


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