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.
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.
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!
- Record Unit 310 SIWC Records 1972-1983
- Record Unit 507 SIWC Records 1980-1992
- Accession 13-246 SIWC Records 1972-2008
- Accession 03-076 SIWC Records 1972-1997
- Accession 18-269 SIWC Records 1980-1996
- Accession 11-204 SIWC Records 1972-1995 and 2003-2008
- “Women Carrying out the Work of Change in the 1970s,” by Elizabeth Harmon, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives.
- “How Gloria Steinem Inspired Change at the Smithsonian,” by Elizabeth Harmon, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives.
- “A Library for the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Council,” by Elizabeth Harmon, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives.