Guide to the International Museum of Women Records MSS.2014.02.15

Beaudry Allen
SJSU Special Collections & Archives
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0028

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
Title: International Museum of Women Records
Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2014.02.15
Physical Description: 17 boxes (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.

Related 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.

Preferred Citation

International Museum of Women Records, MSS-2014-02-15, San Jose State University Library Special Collections and Archives.

Processing Information

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


Series I: Administrative Files, 1993-2014

Scope and Contents

This series includes general administrative files, presentations, board minutes, news-clippings, correspondence, and concept develpoment reports. These records document the organizational planning, especially redevelopment to an online platform, and financial operations of the International Museum of Women. The material on the Global Council includes member files, meeting minutes, reports, and agendas. Financial information includes budgets, bank statements, tax information, and receipts; however, these financial and tax records are restricted. Of particular note, Of particular the series includes documents relating to sponsorship, National Women's History program, film festivals, and Women, Power, and Politics exhibit.


This series maintains the original order of the creator.
Box 1

Financial Reports, Strategic Planning, and Development 1999-2009

Conditions Governing Use

Administrative Files (box 1) are restricted to only IMOW employees.
Box 2

Concept Development and Press Mentions

Box 3

Pier 26 Campaign, Media Correspondence, and Newsletters 1998-2008

Box 4

Global Council Administrative Files 2004-2014

Box 5

Global Council Members Files 2004-2011


Series II: Speaker Series 2004-2011

Scope and Contents

This series details the IMOW Speakers Series: Extraordinary Change, which was held quarterly in San Francisco, as a series of lectures by women around the world who have made unprecedented changes to their community and the lives of women worldwide. Included are photographs, press releases, and transcripts of each lecture. Arranged chronologically.
Box 6

Speakers Series Event Files 2004-2011


Series III: Women of the World Exhibit, 2003

Scope and Contents

This series consists of reports, exhibit publicity and educational materials, and the exhibit's website relating to the creation of the Women of the World Exhibit. The exhibit, curated by artist Claudia DeMonte, focused on how the representation of a woman expressed from different styles, traditions, and countries with over 117 works originally featured in the project.
Box 7

Exhibit Information: Administrative Files, Plannings, and Program 2003

Box 17, Folder 1

Exhibit Poster 2003


Series IV: Celebrating Women Exhibit 2004

Scope and Contents

This series consists of exhibit research materials and reports, exhibit translations, and exhibit object files. These materials document the development and design of the IMOW exhibit, Celebrating Women. The exhibit was a presentation of images and objects that reflected the festivals, ceremonies and competitions from around the world that provided diverse insight in the concept of the feminine spirit. The exhibit, was based on the book Celebrating Women by acclaimed photo-journalist Paola Gianturco, which featured her photography, artifacts, music and compelling accounts of seventeen celebrations from Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Finland, French West Indies, India, Morocco, Peru, Poland, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States.


This series is arranged by subject.
Box 8

Exhibit Information: Brochures, Exhibit Text, Reports, and Object Files 2004

Box 17, Folder 2

Exhibit Poster: "Imagine a Fierce Competitor..." 2004

Box 17, Folder 3

Exhibit Poster: "Imagine a Strong Warrior..." 2004


Series V: California Woman Suffrage 1870-1911 Exhibit, 2004

Scope and Contents

The series includes Borrower’s Packets, File-photos of exhibit panels and text, and supportive research materials, and press releases.
Files are arranged alphabetically by subject, and then chronologically by folder.
Box 9

Exhibit Information: Research and Related Materials


Series VI: Imagining Ourselves Exhibit, 2005-2007

Scope and Contents

This series consists of anthologies, online exhibit relating to the Imagining Ourselves exhibit. The exhibit Between March 8, 2006 and December 31, 2007, more than a million people participated in Imagining Ourselves. The project included a published anthology, a series of global events, and a multilingual online exhibition of user-contributed film, photography, music, poetry and personal essays--all in response to the question, "What defines your generation of women?"
Box 10

Exhibit Information and Overview packet

Box 11

Press Mentions


Series VII: Photographs and Audiovisual Materials circa 2000-2011

Scope and Contents

This series consists photographs, negatives, videotapes, CDs, DVDs, and a flash drive. The bulk of the series mainly pertains to Imagining Ourselves exhibit videos, images, and development containing master digital copies. To a lesser the extant the series contains miscelleanous exhibit object photographs.
Arranged by format.
Box 12

Miscellaneous exhibit object photographs and negatives, undated, 2003

Box 13

Celebrating Women Manuscript, CD-R 2003 September

Box 13

California Suffrage Powerpoint Presentation," CD-R 2005

Box 13

Imagining Ourselves images and videos, 2004-2007

Scope and Contents

Includes slideshow by Rebecca Greenberg and materials are on CD and DVD.

Series VIII: Awards and Recognition 1990-2009

Scope and Contents

This series mainly pertains to awards, commendations, and proclamations received by IMOW from the county of San Francisco, the State, and other organizations for IMOW’s efforts in awareness and women's education.
This series is arranged by format.
Box 14

Proclamations, awards, certificates, and recognitions 1990-2009


Series IX: Oversized Materials 2003-2009

Scope and Contents

Includes oversized drawings, news-clippings, and exhibition posters for Women of the World (2003) exhibit and Celebrating Women (2004) exhibit.
Box 15

Press mentions 2007, 2009

Box 17

Exhibition posters 2003, 2004


Series X: Exhibits 2007-2013

Scope and Contents

This series consists of exhibit and research materials, promotional documents, and publications from the following exhibits: Economica, Young Women Speaking the Economy, Mama: Motherhood Around the Globe, Women, Power and Politics, Muslim Women’s Art and Voices, and Paths for Women Making Change. These exhibits explore topics such as: women’s influence on the economy, global experiences of motherhood, and women in politics.
Box 16

Exhibit Information: Research Materials, Promotional Documents, and Publications 2007-2013


Series XI: Programs and Sponsored Events 1995-2013

Scope and Contents

This series consists of publicity, documents and programs related to I.M.O.W sponsored events. Examples of documents in this series are: The I.M.O.W Annual Gala programs and news clippings, annual book award flyers, book fair flyers and various educational program's promotional materials.
Box 16

Programs and Sponsored Events Information: Publicity, Documents and Programs 1995-2013