Posted on May 4 2016
NEH Awards $260,000 Grant to Expand ‘College Women’ Archives Portal
In Summer, 2015 we announced the beta launch of the cross-institutional archives portal College Women: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education, a collaboration between the institutions once -- and often still -- known as the “Seven Sisters." The site development was funded by a Foundations planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and allowed us to begin imagining a resource that could serve both researchers and the casual browser interested in the shared histories of women's education at some of the first U.S. women's colleges in the Northeast. Today, we can now share that the National Endowment for the Humanities has recently awarded a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant to Bryn Mawr College that will allow us to expand the digitization project with our seven partner institutions beginning in Summer 2016.
The College Women archives portal brings together digitized writings and photographs from our seven libraries, dating from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, and documenting the experiences of students attending Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley, and Radcliffe (now the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University). In the first phase of our work, the partners established a metadata schema, built and tested the beta site, and developed an approach to building subject-focused digital collections that can serve as a model to other institutions pursuing collaborative ventures. The portal currently holds a sample selection of 318 items, mostly photographs; the next phase of the project will focus on the expansion of content, allowing us to digitize, catalog, and upload 50,000 new images to the portal with a focus on student writings from letters, diaries, and scrapbooks.
By linking these materials through a common searchable access point, we hope to illuminate questions that still resonate today:
- how did young women's social and intellectual relationships inform their entry into the public sphere?
- How did differences in social and economic status between students influence day-to-day life on campus?
- How did the atmosphere of women's education as nineteenth-century "experiment" influence their attitudes and experiences, both in their undergraduate years and beyond -- and how might we use those histories to build supportive educational environments for marginalized populations around the world today?
For more information, contact Eric Pumroy (epumroy [at] brynmawr [dot] edu) or Christiana Dobzynski (cdobrzynsk [at] brynmawr [dot] edu).