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Women's Heritage Museum/International Museum of Women Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Women's Heritage Museum/International Museum of Women Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2010.02.18
    Physical Description: 53 boxes, 4 flat file drawers (87.58 linear feet)
    Date (inclusive): 1887-2005 (bulk 1970-1997)
    Abstract: The Women's Heritage Museum/International Museum of Women Records document the formation of this museum, which was organized to promote women's history. The records consist of administrative documents, newspaper clippings, photographs, video tapes, and materials from exhibits.


    Collection is open for research, with the exception of the following materials: financial documents in Boxes 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has been assigned to the San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections & Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    Women's Heritage Museum/International Museum of Women Records, MSS-2010-02-18, San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Beth Noyes. Finding aid EAD encoded by Beth Noyes. Reviewed by Danelle Moon. Additonal materials added to series I, II, III and V, and finding aid updated, by Stephanie Watson, June 2016.

    Organizational History

    The International Museum of Women (I.M.O.W.), originally called the Women's Heritage Museum (W.H.M.), was founded in 1985 when Jeanne McDonnell, Anne Murray, and Jane Van Dusen signed the papers of incorporation. The mission of this social change museum was to value the lives of women around the world. The museum documented women's history through exhibits and sponsored a variety of programs focused on educating the public and improving the status of women.
    The first public program held by the museum provided historical information on the California suffragist Sarah Wallis, and was held in a park named for her. In 1985, the museum also published the Women's Heritage Museum News, a quarterly newsletter that was eventually distributed nationally. After its inception, the museum created several exhibits documenting women's history. Since the museum lacked a permanent building, the exhibits were loaned to various museums and venues for display. California Woman Suffrage 1870-1911 opened in 1986 and was shown in the California State Capitol and the National Women's Hall of Fame in Senca Falls, New York. Progress of the Women's World featured the works of 70 artists from over 50 countries and was displayed in the visitors lobby of the United Nations in 2000. The museum also sponsored local events, including an annual book fair, a program to provide educators with resources for Women's History Month, tours of the Juana Briones House, and the reenactment of historical events. In addition, the museum organized tours to sites of interest in women's history.
    At a 1997 board meeting hosted by Eliabeth Colton, the members decided to take the museum in a new direction. Along with changing the name to the International Museum of Women (I.M.O.W.), the board began plans to secure a permanent exhibit space in San Francisco. The Presidio Project was a plan to convert a building at Presidio Park into a museum space for the I.M.O.W. The board also attempted to build a museum site at Pier 26 in San Francisco. These projects ultimately failed due to lack of funding and the economic downturn. In addition, the I.M.O.W. initiated a speaker series, sponsoring lectures from authors, artists, and political figures.
    In 2005, the institution decided to "focus on creating a new kind of museum that would engage and impact women around the world" through a digital environment (International Museum of Women, 2010). They supported this initiative through the creation of several online exhibits, including the 2006 exhibit Imagining Ourselves: A Global Generation of Women, which won the Anita Borg Social Impact Award. The I.M.O.W. also built strategic relationships with organizations that shared similar goals.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Records in this collection consist of administrative documents, newspaper clippings, photographs, and video tapes. The collection contains information on museum exhibits, including California Woman Suffrage 1870-1911, which opened in 1986 and was shown in the California State Capitol and the National Women's Hall of Fame in Senca Falls, New York. Materials include artifacts that were used in musuem exhibits, such as the petticoat of Sarah Bard Field, a California suffragist and poet.


    This collection is arranged into seven series: Series I. Administrative Files, 1985-1996; Series II. Exhibits and Programs, 1979-2004; Series III. Artifacts and Exhibit Materials, 1887-2003; Series IV. Career Action Files, 1971-1988; Series V. Publications and Clippings, 1954-2005; Series VI. Audiovisual and Visual Materials, 1987-2004; and Series VII. Artwork, Posters, and Museum Plans, 1983-2004.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Women's rights -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Women's rights -- California
    Women -- Suffrage -- California -- History -- Exhibitions
    Women's rights -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area
    Museums and women
    Women -- Museums