June 2006

News from the Archives provides readers with news concerning U.S. Women's History from archives and repositories with collections and projects of interest.  If you are affiliated with an archive or repository and would like to submit an announcement that you feel would be of interest to our readers, please contact Tanya Zanish-Belcher at tzanish@iastate.edu.

Arlington County Central Library (Arlington, Virginia)
Submitted by: Heather Crocetto

The Virginia Room, located in the Arlington County Public Library, would like to announce the following collections are open:

  1. Barbara Marx moved to Arlington during World War II, and soon became active in the civil rights movement within the county. She was a member of the N.A.A.C.P., Arlingtonians for a Better Community, the Arlington Community Action Committee, and the League of Women Voters. Marx and two of her daughters were the only white plaintiffs in a 1956 lawsuit which the N.A.A.C.P. brought against the Arlington County School Board. The suit led to the integration of Stratford Junior High School in 1959; Arlington County was the first county in Virginia to desegregate their schools. Marx also worked for equal opportunity in housing and employment.

    This collection houses Marx's papers relating to her work with activist organizations in Arlington County, and includes brochures and other published materials, minutes and notes, newsletters, legal documentation regarding school desegregation, and even threatening letters she received. The material dates from 1950 to 1965. Users can find information on social activism in Arlington County and the State of Virginia, including a wide array of ephemera from multiple organizations on either side of the desegregation issue.

  2. In addition, the Arlington Room also possesses the records of the Organized Women Voters of Arlington County, an independent organization of politically active women in Arlington County. The objectives of the organization are "to collect and disseminate political and civic information; to be non­partisan; and to be free to take action on any County problem." The Organized Women Voters has been active in educating Arlington County voters on voting procedures and political candidates and supporting women candidates for County Board positions. The collection includes newsletters, minutes, membership lists, photographs and clippings, ranging from 1923 to 1961.

  3. The personal papers of Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell, contains material collected and generated by Mrs. Campbell, and date between 1945 and 1991 (bulk 1947-1959). Mrs. Campbell was a college administrator at Moravian College for Women in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. She moved to Arlington in 1936 and become active in community organizations and was instrumental in the founding of WETA, the Washington, DC, area public television station. The bulk of the material in this collection relate to her activities regarding education and integration of public schools, including correspondence, meeting minutes, campaign literature and legal documentation. There are also a considerable amount of videotaped interviews with Mrs. Campbell, her husband, Edward, and her colleagues. These interviews were taped for the creation of the program "Creating a Life: The Campbell Project."

  4. Finally, the records of numerous local women's clubs that were based on neighborhoods are available to patrons, including Zonta, the Soroptimists, and the Ashton Heights Women's Club.

For further information, please contact Heather Crocetto, Archivist
Virginia Room, Arlington County Central Library
Phone: (703) 228-7724
Fax: (703) 228-7720
www.co.arlington.va.us/lib/history/index.htm


Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, California)
Submitted by: Lucinda Glenn

The Center for Women and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California (a consortium of nine theological seminaries), was the earliest established center for women in theological education.  It was founded in 1970 as the Office of Women's Affairs by Bay Area women in religion, including some GTU women, who recognized "that seminary women at the GTU schools needed a channel, an advocate, an office through which to express their needs and concerns."  It operated originally out of Unitas, the campus ministry program at the University of California, Berkeley.  Soon, OWA became affiliated with the GTU.    In 1977, the name was changed to the Center for Women and Religion.  CWR's mission was in the areas of research, the status of women in religious structures, and community building for women students, faculty, staff, and spouses moving to the goal of ending sexism and promoting justice in and through religion.  It worked to accomplish these goals through the distribution of resources, offering GTU courses, and through various sponsored conferences, programs, events, and groups.

CWR continued its mission and program sponsoring conferences, programs, events, and groups into the beginning of the 21st Century.  In 2000, the mission was stated as promoting "diverse women's voices in cutting edge theology education for spiritual growth and social change."  The Center for Women and Religion ceased operation in early 2004.  There are 32 boxes in the Collection divided into twelve Records Series:  1. Board of Directors Meetings and Minutes, 2. Administrative Records, 3. Financial Records, 4. Development Records, 5. Programs, Projects, and Events (including the Feminist Curriculum Project), 6. Newsletters and Journals, 7. Women's Resources, 8. Photographs, 9. Negatives, 10. Slides, 11. Audiocassettes, and 12. Videocassettes.

"Our context as a Center for Women and Religion in the midst of nine traditional theological institutions gives us a unique opportunity to see the effects of women's exclusion from theological culture.  We see how the exclusion of women from leadership and theological education results in the elimination of women as shapers of official theological culture . . . Because feminist theology does not control the definition of the tradition it has not had any power to determine what will be read and remembered by the next generation of theology students.  So, we continue to lose our own history and we have to begin again and again as though our questions had never been asked or answered before." —Sandra Yarlott, CWR Director, 1986.

For further information or to research the CWR Collection, contact the GTU Archivist:
Lucinda Glenn, 510-649-2507, lglenn@gtu.edu.
Archives website: http://library.gtu.edu/archives/.
Graduate Theological Union, 2400 Ridge Road,
Berkeley, CA, 94709


Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)
Submitted by: Janice Ruth

The National Woman's Party Web site was launched last August:
http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05-180.html

The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum also released (March 2006) a new Web site containing digital images of some of the historic photographs retained by the NW:
http://www.nwpcollection.org/NWPArchWeb/index.jsp

A third new suffrage-related Web site, also from LC, focuses on a collection of scrapbooks kept by Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/millerscrapbooks/

There is a Women's History Discussion Group meeting (twice monthly) for staff and researchers interested in women's history. We meet the second Wednesday and last Thursday of every month from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Room LJ G-07 in the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building. This is an informal group with about 10-20 people attending. We would like to encourage researchers planning to visit the Library to schedule their trips so that they can take advantage of attending one of these meetings.

Please e-mail Janice at jrut@loc.gov if you have any questions!


Litchfield Historical Society (Litchfield, Connecticut)
Submitted by: Linda Hocking

The Connecticut Humanities Council awarded a grant of $3,744 to the Litchfield Historical Society to process the papers of Mary Perkins Quincy. This enormous compilation of personal papers details one family's experiences in Litchfield from the 18th through the early part of the 20th Century. A descendant of the prominent Deming, Champion, Perkins, and Quincy families, Quincy inherited a penchant for both local history and genealogy. Her papers also include collections of records created by these ancestors. She was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames of America, the National Mary Washington Memorial Association, the Village Improvement Society, the Needle and Bobbin Club, the Litchfield Lawn Club, and the Litchfield Historical Society.Mary Perkins Quincy was an avid traveler, visiting such places as Egypt, Greece, Russia, Scotland, Italy, France, Jerusalem, Palestine, Algiers, and Dresden.

The papers fill approximately twenty five standard document boxes, and several oversized boxes for diaries, with only four boxes of the materials cataloged on cards. The bulk of the collection, comprised mostly of Mary Perkins Quincy's personal papers, remains unprocessed. Archives assistant Nathan Koldys will work under the direction of Linda Hocking, the Society's archivist, to re-house, arrange, and describe this valuable resource.

Visit the Society's Web site at:
http://www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org.
Litchfield Historical Society
P.O. Box 385
Litchfield, CT 06759
Phone 860-567-4501 Fax 960-567-3565
Contact: Linda Hocking (860) 567-4501
archivist@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org

Mount Holyoke College (Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts)
Submitted by: Ralitsa Donkova

The Ella T. Grasso Papers were opened to the public in September 2005. The 108 linear feet collection spans the years 1919-1981, and primarily documents Grasso's work as a member of the United States Congress, 1970-1974. The collection is a valuable resource for scholars of political science, history, and economics of the early 1970s as it provides primary sources on veteran affairs, the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon's impeachment, gas prices and fuel shortages, family planning and birth control, and education legislation. Of special interest are the files on the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade.

Grasso, who earned both B.A. and M.A. degrees from Mount Holyoke College, became the first woman governor of Connecticut and the first woman governor elected in her own right. She began her political career working for the Connecticut State Department of Labor in 1942. In 1970 and 1972 she was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut's 6th District. In Congress she served on the Education and Labor Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee. In 1974 Grasso was elected as Governor of Connecticut. She was re-elected in 1979, but resigned from office on December 31, 1980 due to illness.

To mark the opening of the Grasso Papers, there is an exhibit in the Archives and Special Collections lobby from March 15-June 5, 2006, featuring documents, photographs and artifacts from the collection. As an accompanying research resource there is also an online exhibit highlighting major cornerstones in Grasso's life and career. It is available at.

Ralitsa Donkova, class of 2005 who holds a BA in political science, processed the collection and curated the exhibit. The processing project was funded by Mount Holyoke College alumnae Clara R. Ludwig, Mary Tuttle, Gwendolyn Glass and an anonymous donor. The collection has gathered publicity from both local and national media.

For the complete finding aid to the collection see:

Oblate Sisters of Providence (Baltimore, Maryland)
Submitted by: Sharon Knecht

The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the oldest sustained order of women religious of color in the world. The Reverend James Nicholas Joubert, S.S. co-founded the order in the city of Baltimore, Maryland in 1829 with Elizabeth Lange (later Mother Mary Lange) and three other women of African descent: Madeleine Balas, Rosine Boegue and Therese Duchemin. Baltimore was fertile ground for starting a women religious order with the mission to teach and care for African American children. The Oblate's first school, St. Frances Academy opened in 1828 and is still educating children in the city of Baltimore. It is the oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic school founded for African American children in the United States.

The orders archives, located at the Oblate Sisters' motherhouse in Baltimore, Maryland is the repository for a variety of historical materials including organizational records, Catholic African American periodicals, over 600 rare books dating from the later 1600s to the 1840s, an extensive collection of 19th and 20th century photographs documenting the lives and works of African-Americans and the order, video and sound recordings, and a number of 19th century samplers worked by students. The collection also includes manuscripts, biographical sketches, personal files of deceased sisters, short histories of the order, information on schools, orphanages and institutions owned and operated by the Oblate Sisters, parochial and parish church educational events and projects, as well as civic and religious activities of Oblate missions in the United States, Central America and Cuba. The materials are of interest to a variety of academic, religious and local history scholars, as well as genealogists and students.

There are large gaps in the area of local, education, race and women religious history that can be filled with knowledge and investigation of the organizational records of the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Perhaps the Oblates are most pertinent to women historians who will be surprised to find that though the Oblates lived their lives under the supervision of Church and clergy, they were also quite independent in their ability to provide for themselves and the children in their charge. Modern feminists and students of women's history will find that despite the image of sisters being naïve and strictly other-worldly beings, the sisters are as a group among the best educated and most accomplished of nineteenth and early twentieth century American women. Despite their subordination (literally) to men within the Church, sisters exercised greater control over their lives than any other sizeable group of females contemporaries in this country. Women can learn much from their nineteenth century women religious about how to work within male dominated institutions and processes. Therefore the study of the Oblate Sisters of Providence is hardly parochial. Instead it has the potential to fill in a number of historical gaps. It provides dramatic evidence that women's history is genuine history that must not be ignored in order to correct wide ranging distortions about women and their roles in history.

Oblate Sisters of Providence
701 Gun Rd.
Baltimore, Md. 21227
410-242-8500 x135
http://www.oblatesisters.com/page19.html

United Church of Canada/Victoria University Archives (Toronto, Canada)
Submitted by: Sharon P. Larade

The United Church of Canada would like to announce the project, "Making Room for Women": http://unitedchurcharchives.vicu.utoronto.ca/MRW.shtml

This is a coordinated effort to identify and preserve personal papers of women in The United Church of Canada and the records of organizations in which they have participated. Organizations created over the past 50 years by women in both the United Church and the ecumenical church, such as the Movement for Christian Feminism, the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, and the Centre for Christian Studies, are attracting scholarly interest. This project will entail surveying and inventorying women’s personal papers, identifying key leaders, promoting women’s history, conducting oral histories, encouraging networking, and teaching workshops and seminars.

Thus far, the Archives has increased their holdings of women's personal papers from 15% to 25% over the past three years, created a database of donor prospects, "Wanted Women," whose papers should be acquired by the Archives, and started to contact and collect ethnic minority and aboriginal women's papers and stories.

For more information:

Sharon P. Larade
Chief Archivist
United Church of Canada/Victoria University Archives
416.585.4562 fax 416.585.4584
Birge-Carnegie Library 73 Queen's Park Crescent East, Toronto ON M5S 1K7
sharon.larade@utoronto.ca
http://unitedchurcharchives.ca
http://united-church.ca/archives
reference inquiries: info@unitedchurcharchives.ca

Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio)
Submitted by: Laura Slezak

The Archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society of Cleveland, Ohio is currently processing the Women's Law Fund records. The Women's Law Fund, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating gender discrimination through litigation and education, was founded in Cleveland in 1972. The fund was co-founded by attorneys Jane M. Picker and Lizabeth A. Moody, then colleagues at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University. Primarily funded by the Ford Foundation, the Women's Law Fund first supported precedent-setting litigation regarding gender discrimination in employment, education, government benefits, and housing. The Women's Law Fund is not a law firm; rather, it is an organization securing attorneys and providing funding for litigation in its area of expertise. In fact, the Women's Law Fund was the first non-profit organization in the United States to address gender discrimination cases. Although located in Cleveland, the fund is a national organization. Notably, the first case supported by the fund, LaFleur v. Cleveland Board of Education, went to the United States Supreme Court, which barred the Board's mandatory pregnancy leave24 in 1974. As the fund's efforts produced change, the Women's Law Fund shifted its focus in the 1990s to new areas of discrimination, namely that of American women employed overseas by American companies and female age discrimination. The organization will be disbanded at the end of this fiscal year, largely due to the achievement of their mission. Once processed, this collection will be particularly valuable to researchers of women's history, the field of legal studies, and the evolution of civil liberties.

Western Reserve Historical Society
(216) 721-5722 x245

 

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