Smithsonian Institution Women's Council, including (l-r, standing): B. Franklin, A. Kotkin, L. Kozloski, E. Whiteman, A. Mutchler, H. Haynes, K. Pruitt, (C. Rader), R. DeRosa, A. Davis, M. Quinn, P. Clendenning, M. Weissman, P. Cogsnell, J. White, J. Herman, H. Podolske; (l-r, seated): A. Bay, B. Farmer, M. Santiago, 1978, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 310.

We’re Digitizing the Smithsonian Women’s Council Records!

Celebrate with us as we ramp up to digitize more than 36,000 records documenting the history of women and work at the Smithsonian.  

Honestly, in our work at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, there’s nothing more exciting than making our collections more accessible, especially collections about women fighting to make work better for themselves and future generations. So, today’s a good day.  

The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives has partnered with the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative to digitize and share our archival collections documenting the history of the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Council (SIWC). We’ll be imaging and processing the records, creating metadata, ingesting the newly created digital images into our digital asset management system, and preparing the digital images for the web—so you can work with them online.   

A group of women and one man sit and stand in a room.

These records tell a national story about how women harnessed legal and cultural changes in the second half of the twentieth century to fight for equal opportunity in the workplace. Spurred on by the women’s movement and federal legislation, in the 1970s, women at the Smithsonian organized and pushed for cultural and administrative changes that would open new career advancement opportunities to women. Featuring stories ranging from Gloria Steinem advising the SIWC in the 1970s to the formation of the Smithsonian Institution Minority Women’s Council, which predated the SIWC,  these collections shine light on the struggles and strategies of women forging careers at the Smithsonian in the late twentieth century. 

Black-and-white negatives of the noon lecture with Gloria Steinem.

Once we complete this project, here’s what you can expect to find online: newsletters of the Council and related women's groups; SIWC's constitution with amendments and its original charter; news clippings; meeting agendas; photographs of Council members and special events; copies of publications related to the Council's activities; files documenting the election of the Council; and information about members’ advocacy interests. Also included are surveys and reviews of statistical data regarding women and minorities in the Smithsonian workforce; files of various committees including those focused on career development; childcare plans for Smithsonian employees, training, and upward mobility; files on a proposed Smithsonian women's exhibit; and records of the Smithsonian Institution Minority Women's Council. 

Here’s a list of the collections we’ll be working with. You can check out the finding aids for each of these collections to learn even more about what will be online! 

Further Reading


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