Publication Date

February 1, 1996

The New York Documentary Heritage Program has awarded a 1995-96 Historical Records Program Project Grant to the Tamiment Institute Library and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. The grant for $9,900, entitled "Finding Our Past: Documenting the Women's Health Movement in New York," provides funding for a part-time field archivist to conduct a 12-rnonth women's history records survey of health-related organizations in New York City. The survey will identify records with historical significance, recommend preservation measures when needed, and foster the development of cooperative collecting strategies among interested repositories.

Debra Bernhardt, head of archival collections at NYU, will be project administrator, and Lucinda Manning, archivist for the United Federation of Teachers, will be project coordinator, with Belinda Blum serving as field archivist. Also participating in the project is Marjorie Seyler, a student intern from the State University of New York at Old Westbury.

For the past two years, seven task forces of archivists and historians have worked to assess the adequacy of documentation of several vital areas of 20th-century New York City social history. The Task Force on Women and Family life is focusing currently on the identification of historically significant organizational records related to the women's health and reproductive rights movement in New York City that are not presently in archival repositories.

The current project goal of searching for undeposited source material dealing with women's lives, activities, interests, and ideas was taken from the statement of purpose of the World Center for Women's Archives, originally founded in New York in 1935 by peace activist and feminist historian Mary Ritter Beard.

Although adequate funding for this World Center was never found because of the impending war and economic depression, these early efforts to preserve women's historical materials encouraged the founding of both the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and the Women's Archives at Radcliffe.

The Tamiment Institute Library at NYU housed in the Bobst Library, holds research materials from the middle of the 19th century to the present that are vital to the study of the American labor movement and political organizations of the left. The Wagner Labor Archives at NYU opened in 1977 and is a repository for the historically significant, noncurrent records of New York City labor organizations. For more information, call Lucinda Manning, United Federation of Teachers, (212) 598-9213, or Belinda R. Blum, Women's History Records Survey Project, (212) 989-9354.

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