March 4th, 2021
The State Journal published this article on March 3.
By Karen Diaz, Dean of WVU Libraries
Women – of all backgrounds – have made important contributions to society. Only recently are we learning more about these individuals and learning to give credit to women where that credit is due. The way we have learned more is through evidence. Often that evidence sits in archives used by historians and others to document how women have shaped society. Due to a long tradition of underrepresenting women and women’s contributions, there are archival silences or gaps in what has been preserved. This undervaluing perhaps also causes those making contributors to undervalue documenting what they have done.
Women, it is important to record how you are acting to improve health, family, racial equity, education, political representation, and more. Your activity might be documented on social media, in a chapter newsletter, in a diary or in newspaper clippings, or in photographs. Women are not a monolith and so having this documentation from women of different races, different age groups, urban, rural, and different walks of life matters. Take time to document your work and your contributions.
In March, our nation will again be celebrating Women’s History Month. It is only because of evidence of women’s contributions to society that we are able to reflect on the various ways in which women have advanced society through art, politics, science, sport, medicine, and so much more. This is often found in archives.
What are you doing to tell your story or to leave records for your family to tell your story? Do you have letters, photographs, memorabilia? Have you interviewed women of note and recorded these interviews? Are these items you can share with libraries and archives to magnify the story of how the women in your life have advanced society? Representation begets representation.
On March 19 at noon, WVU Libraries will host an online session about a newly developing Feminist Activist Archives at the West Virginia and Regional History Center. This new focus in our archive seeks to tell the story of West Virginia women who have actively worked to improve the lives of women of all walks of life. We invite everyone who is interested in learning more about documenting women and archives in West Virginia to join us for this important conversation. Details and a link to register for the event can be found at exhibits.lib.wvu.edu/virtual.