Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Labels and women's archives

Today I officially finished organizing the Gannon Center collection, creating the finding aid, and labeling all of the boxes and folders! Its taken a while, but its nice to see all of these documents and materials organized and stored safely. I hope that if a researcher comes to the WLA looking for information about the Gannon Center, this collection will be helpful and easy to navigate!

After finishing with labels, I read an article by Karen M. Mason and Tanya Zanish-Belcher entitled "Raising the Archival Consciousness: How Women's Archives Challenge Traditional Approaches to Collection and Use, Or, What's in a Name?" about the history of women's archives. The authors gave an very interesting overview of the creation of women's archives from the initial realization of the need to archive women's histories to the present.

The authors stated that the concept of an archive dedicated solely to women emerged in the 1960s and 1970s around the time of the feminist movement when women realized that their histories were not being told in the broader genre. Women's contributions to history were not well preserved and were not being included in mainstream histories.

This sparked the increased collection and archiving of women's records and papers and even led to the creation of archives solely for women. However, in the 1980s, archivists realized that many of their collections did not reflect diversity. This was both a lack of racial diversity as well as representation of women from different faiths and social classes.

Many of the women whose materials had been archived were upper class educated women and mostly white. Thus action began to not only find donors from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds but also from different education levels. The authors then introduced the importance of oral history to archiving. They stated that because they wanted to record the histories of women who were from lower social classes or had not received as much education, they needed to rely on oral history as much as documented histories.
African Activist Archive

Finally, the authors stated that the goal for archivists today is to be as open as possible to new collections and donors and to try and remove biases if possible. Because many archives and archivists tend to be more liberal or identify as feminists, it is important that they remain open minded to donors and collections that may be more conservative or "right-wing" because these histories are just as essential in the greater fabric of women's history.


  1. Hi Bushra!

    My name is Andrea and I was looking at your blog. This internship sounds very interesting and I would love to do something like this too. Do you know who I should contact to set up some sort of interview or send my resume? Thank you!

  2. Hi Andrea,

    So sorry for the late response! I did this internship through the history department at my school. I think your best option would be to find archives or museum's whose work you find interesting and contact them. Most places are eager for interns and will let you know how to find a fitting position.

    Thanks so much for checking out my blog!