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Woman's Building Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Separated Materials
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    Title: Woman's Building Records
    creator: Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Identifier/Call Number: Coll2014-126
    Physical Description: 24.1 Linear Feet 6 archive boxes, 5 flat archives boxes, 2 map case drawers, 1 archive carton
    Date (inclusive): 1964-1992, 2011
    Abstract: Artwork, administrative records, event records, financial records, promotional materials, and publications of the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles from its founding in 1973 to its dissolution in 1991. The Woman’s Building was one of the nation’s first nonprofit arts and educational centers dedicated to the development of women’s identity, sensibility, and creativity.
    Container: 1-5
    Container: 6-12

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder #, or item name] Woman's Building Records, Coll2014-126, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Kyle Morgan, 2014.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Staff and payroll records are restricted until 2060. There are otherwise no access restrictions.

    Separated Materials

    Separated to ONE Archives audio collection:
    "And those on the spirit believed," The KCALB [Gniw?] Spirit, May 24, 1987 (audiocassette).
    ARTS/LA on KCRW, two stories on the Woman's Building on the 15th year anniversary, October 17 and 24, 1988 (audiocassette).
    "Caged Bird Takes Flight," by Nobuko Miyamoto (audiocassette).
    "Fantasticks, P.D." (audiocassette).
    Vesta Awards event recordings, 1987 (2 audiocassettes), 1991 (2 audiocassettes), undated (1 audiocassette).
    Separated to the ONE Archives subject files collection:
    Lea Delaria subject file (1 folder).
    Separated to the ONE Archives periodical collection:
    Southern California Women's Caucus for Art, Spring 1992.

    Biographical / Historical

    The founding of the Woman's Building in Los Angeles in 1973 was the culmination of several years of activity by women artists who were energized by the feminist movement in this country. This activity included protests of major museums for their exclusion of women artists, the opening of gallery spaces dedicated to the work of women, the founding of the first feminist art education programs (in 1970, by Judy Chicago at Fresno State College and in 1971 by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro at California Institute of the Arts), and the first large scale public feminist art installation, Womanhouse. In 1973, artist Judy Chicago, graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and art historian Arlene Raven founded the first independent school for women artists, the Feminist Studio Workshop. The FSW focused not only on the development of artmaking skills (in visual arts, writing, performance art, video, graphic design and the printing arts), but also on the development of women's identity and sensibility, and the translation of these elements into their artwork. Central to the founders' vision was the idea that the arts should not be separated from other activities of the burgeoning women's community, and the three looked for a site for their school that could also be shared with other organizations and enterprises.
    This space, the Woman's Building, opened in November 1973. The Woman's Building took its name and inspiration from a structure built by Sophia Hayden for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago to house exhibitions of cultural works by women from around the world. When the Woman's Building first opened in 1973, it occupied the site of the old Chouinard Art Institute near MacArthur Park. Hundreds of women came from across the United States (and from as far away as Canada, Mexico, Holland and Switzerland) to attend the FSW. The facility was also home to galleries, theater companies, Sisterhood Bookstore, Womantours Travel Agency, a coffeehouse, and the offices of the National Organization for Women. In 1975, the Woman's Building moved to a building on North Spring Street, near Chinatown. At that time, the organization began to generate its own programming, so the entire three floors of the reconverted warehouse were filled with artistic activities. In 1981, the Woman's Building underwent major organizational change as a shift occurred in the cultural and economic climates of the United States. By that year, the organization's founders had all left to pursue other projects, and a "second generation" of FSW graduates would carry the organization through the next decade. That year the FSW closed, as the demand for alternative education diminished. The educational programs of the Woman's Building were restructured to better accommodate the needs of working women. That same year, the Woman's Building also founded two profit-making enterprises to strengthen its financial base: the rental of artists' studio space, and Woman's Graphic Center (WGC) Typesetting and Design, a full service design studio. During the 1980s, greater emphasis was placed on expanding the multicultural base of the organization, and on providing opportunities to assist women artists in their professional development. Until its closing in 1991, the Woman's Building was an internationally recognized symbol of the vitality and substance of women's creative achievements.
    Source: http://www.womansbuilding.org/history.htm (accessed December 29, 2014)

    Scope and Contents

    Administrative records, creative works, event records, financial records, photographs, posters, promotional materials, and publications of the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles primarily from its founding in 1973 to its dissolution in 1991. The collection includes records for the Woman’s Graphic Center, Women’s Caucus for Art, and other affiliated organizations.


    The records are organized in the following series:
    Series 1. Administrative records, 1964-1992
    Series 2. Creative works, graphic materials, and publications, 1973-1991, 2011

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Date and method of acquisition of most materials is unknown. Busz Words and Celebrating Women project posters were donated in January 2016 by Cheri Gaulke and Jerri Allyn.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Feminists -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Feminism -- Study and teaching -- Archival resources
    Lesbian feminism -- Archival resources
    Works of art
    Women artists -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Lesbian artists
    Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Woman's Building (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Archives
    Women's Caucus for Art -- Archives
    Woman's Graphic Center -- Archives