Documenting Women's History at the University Archives and Beyond
Women in academe are historically under-documented. However, there are very few universities where women have not played a significant role.
Our goal with this exhibit was to highlight some of the women who have made this University work over the years as a tribute to all of the women who have worked at UB. We also hoped to show the work women do is important to the life of the University.
In 1977 the University Archivist, Shonnie Finnegan established the Women's Archives Project making UB the foremost collector on women's history in the region. Today our status has not changed and that is much to do with the strength of our collections including papers of women faculty, personal collections of local women, and the records of local women's organizations like the Zonta Club and Buffalo Branch of the American Association of University Women.
There are also other groups who have been making strides in documenting women's history of the area, most notably the Uncrowned Queens Project which highlights and awards the work African American women have contributed to the community. The founders of the project, Peggy Brooks-Bertram and Barbara Seals Nevergold, have made a significant impact on preserving the legacy of African American women of Western New York.
However more needs to be done about collecting women's papers. There are many aspects of University and community life that are not documented because the women involved in them don't think that their papers are important enough to save.
"As the fields of women's history, women's studies, and gender studies have matured, and as women's historians have broadened their vision to include diverse groups, geographic regions, and topics, significant gaps in the documentary record have become evident."¹
We hope that the women of UB will think about their work and its significance—in their field, locally, nationally—and to consider contacting us at the University Archives to learn about donating their papers that will allow future researchers the chance to discover what real "women's work" really is.²
¹ Mason, Këren M. and Tanya Zanlish-Belcher, "A Room of One's Own: Women's Archives in the Year 2000" Archival Issues, 24 (1999): 37-54
² For more information on how to get your papers ready to donate to the Archives - read the online brochure, "A Guide to Donating Your Personal or Family Papers to a Repository"