Scope and Content
Biographical / Historical
Language of Material:
SJSU Special Collections & Archives
Title: International Museum of Women Records
Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2014.02.15
(20.83 linear feet)
Date (inclusive): 1993-2014
Abstract: The International Museum of Women Records, 1993-2014, relate to the Museum's continued promotion of women's history and rights
through exhibition and events development. The records consist of administrative documents, news-clippings, exhibit materials,
photographs, and audio-visual materials.
The Women's Heritage Museum/International Museum of Women Records, MSS-2010-02-18, San José State University Library Special
Collections and Archives.
Scope and Content
The International Museum of Women records consist of adminstrative records, reports, presentations, photographs, audio-visual
materials, exhibit research and committee documents, and related ephemera spanning from 1993 to 2014. As a whole the collection
reflects IMOW's strive for diversity and continued commitment to giving voice to issues affecting women around the world.
The bulk of the collection relates to the exhibits, which encompass many aspects to the production and maintenance- from the
research, design, fundraising, marketing, outreach, events, and press associated- with each exhibit. The more recent exhibitions
include printed out versions of the online exhibit. The collection also has a substantial amount of adminstrative records
which relate to IMOW's insitutional strategic planning, including the transition to becoming a virtual museum. To a lesser
extant the adminstrative files include the Global Council records, the international advisory board to the Museum.
This collection is organized into eleven series; Series I: Administrative Files, 1993-2011; Series II: Speaker Series, 2004-2011;
Series III: Women of the World Exhibit, 2003; Series IV: Celebrating Women, 2004; Series V: California Woman Suffrage 1870-1911
Exhibit, 2004; Series VI: Imagining Ourselves Exhibit, 2005-2007; Series VII: Photographs and Audiovisual Materials, circa
2000-2011; Series VIII: Awards and Recognition, 1993-2009; Series IX: Oversized Materials; Series X: Exhibits, 2007-2013;
Series XI: Programs and Sponsored Events, 1995-2013.
As to maintain original order the collection arrangement, exhibit materials are together as subject series and original file
names have been retained when applicable.
Biographical / Historical
The International Museum of Women (IMOW), originally called the Women's Heritage Museum (WHM), 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 Seneca 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 Elisabeth 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.
International Museum of Women Records, MSS-2014-02-15, San Jose State University Library Special Collections and Archives.
Collection processed by Beaudry Allen, April 2015. Additional materials added to series I, II, III, VIII, IX, X, and XI, and
finding aid updated, by Stephanie Watson, June 2016.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Museums and women
Women -- Suffrage -- California -- History -- Exhibitions
Women's rights -- United States -- History -- 20th century
Women's Rights Advocates
Women's rights -- San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)
Women's History Month
Women's rights -- California
Women -- Museums