Learn about 130 Years of AAUW’s Fascinating Archives, Starting Now

July 26, 2012

For some organizations, archives are just a bunch of dusty old boxes that are stuffed away in closets or basements because no one knows what to do with them. But not at AAUW! In 2009, the AAUW Board of Directors created the Archives Task Force to reclaim the organization’s past and to tell the world about our amazing history. The group’s objective is to improve the preservation of and access to the more than 800 boxes of archival material that we have in storage. Aided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the task force created the Long-Range Preservation Plan — a document that guides the work of a newly appointed archivist and a corps of volunteers who carry out the plan’s mission.

The long-range plan contains lists of what we strive to accomplish with the archives. Over the past year, we’ve met or made progress toward many of these goals, but much work remains! With the assistance of the AAUW Archives Corps, a group of 14 dedicated AAUW members, many linear feet of material have already been processed and preserved. Corps members visit the archives every month to work on individual processing projects, which include handling manuscripts, publications, photographs, and audiovisual materials. Some of the exciting projects that are currently underway include records relating to the Coretta Scott King Memorial Fund, AAUW’s monitoring of Title IX, early convention proceedings from the 1910s to the 1930s, college and university accreditation files, newspaper clippings, public information officer files, and an inventory of audiovisual recordings.

It’s time-consuming work, and when documents reveal nothing noteworthy, one may wonder why we take the time and resources to preserve these items. It’s because we cannot predict what will be valuable in the future, so it is our responsibility to preserve and make accessible everything that belongs in the archival collection regardless of our own personal attachment or level of interest in the subjects.

This is standard archival practice, but it’s also our responsibility to organize, preserve, and make accessible records and information about the hard work of AAUW members over the last 130 years. Organization and preservation lead to accessibility. Once records are preserved, it is easier to share history, highlight stories, and think creatively about the ways in which the past can be used for the future. AAUW is committed to our archives and recognizes that our history is an asset to the organization.

Stay tuned for more blog posts from the Archives team. We’ll share details about AAUW’s many brushes with key figures and events in American history, and we’ll give you updates about our exciting projects, including the preservation and display of the rare books, scrapbooks, and AAUW audio recordings of yesteryear!

By:   |   July 26, 2012

3 Comments

  1. chickhistory says:

    Great work! What a fantastic project to share your history with everyone. Looking forward to what you dig up!

  2. Jackie Littleton says:

    AAUW’s history is not only the history of our organization, but of what has mattered to women and women’s organizations for over 130 years! What a legacy.

  3. Caroline Pickens says:

    The Archives Task Force has been one of the most interesting and fun jobs I’ve had in my AAUW life. Our history is fascinating and was often ground breaking and ahead of the times. Did you know our first pay equity study was done in 1913, almost 100 years ago?! We invite any member in the Washington, DC, area to join the volunteer Archives Corps and come have fun with us once a month. Call Archivist Suzanne Gould at 202/785-7700.

Join the Conversation

You must be logged in to post a comment.