The Washington Area Women's Center was founded in 1972 with the intention of promoting the education of women in regard to their history, current situations, and future achievements. The Center cultivated feminist principles and adopted a democratic method of administration. It moved several times during its history but always remained within the bounds of Washington, D.C., and ceased to exist in the early 1980s. The collection consists of administrative files, newsletters, subject files, magazines and newspapers.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see Duplication Policies for Special Collections and University Archives for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
14.50 Linear Feet
The Washington Area Women's Center collection contains a wide range of material covering the period from 1918 to 1984 with the bulk of material dating from 1969 to 1982. The collection contains primarily English-language materials, though some publications are in French, German, and Spanish. It contains announcements, bibliographies, brochures, flyers, newsletters, newspapers and published journal and newspaper articles; most of the materials relate to the women's and lesbian movements in the United States during the 1970s with the Washington, D.C. area as the primary focus. Furthermore, there are unique editions of country and around the developed world. Major topics addressed include the early development of women's studies in academia, employment, lesbian activism, rape prevention, sexual harassment, violence against women, and women's health issues.
The Washington Area Women's Center (WAWC) was founded as a non-partisan and non-profit organization in 1972 by women for women with the intention of promoting the education of women in regard to their history, current situations, and future achievements. The center was formed to cultivate feminist principles and facilitate communication and the sharing of knowledge within a feminist environment, and, reflecting these principles, adopted a democratic method of administration.
On a practical level, the center functioned under the guidance of a collective of members, provided referrals, support groups, and a meeting place for women. The center founded and ran a school for women to teach courses about women's issues, as well as practical courses in areas such as carpentry and self-defense to help women learn to become self-sufficient. It cultivated a small library to make materials available to interested persons in the Washington area and to lend materials to members. Also, it published a newsletter under several different names which related news and events in regard to the Center and the women to share and take part in cultural events such as music and poetry, and co-evolved with an all-female radio music show by the same name that continued after the WAWC no longer existed. The WAWC also ran a crisis center for women out of its headquarters, which included temporary live-in space for women in need. The organization had its own office space, and though it moved several times during its existence, it always remained within the boundaries of Washington D.C. The Washington Area Women's Center ceased to exist in the early 1980s, though the exact date is uncertain.
The collection is organized into two series: Administrative Files; and Subject Files and Publications.
The Washington Area Women's Center collection was donated to the University of Maryalnd at College Park Libraries by the Washington Area Womens' Center through the Women's Studies Program at the University of Maryland in the summer of 1994. A former member of the Washington Area Women's Center contacted the Women's Studies department at the University of Maryland at College Park to inquire about their archival library collection to a library which would allow access to these materials. The original collection was separated into two sections. The first subdivision, which focused upon lesbian issues and materials specific to the early lesbian movement, was donated to the Herstory Archives in New York City. The remaining materials were given to the Women's Studies department at the University of Maryland at College Park. When the collection reached the Women's Studies Program, they contacted Betty Day, the Women's Studies bibliographer, who organized the review of materials by Donna Rowe. The materials were later given to the Archives and Manuscripts department of the University of Maryland Libraries.
In 1995 the Washington Area Women's Center collection was reviewed and sorted by Donna Rowe under the guidance of Betty Day. At that time it was divided into three series and examined for materials that the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries currently owned, which were separated from the collection. Later the remaining materials were entrusted to Yelena Yuckert and Lauren Brown. Individual issues of the journals which were not owned by the libraries at the University of Maryland were removed and added to the libraries' general collection. The Government Documents department received materials appropriate for that area for possible addition to its holdings. Some miscellaneous materials were added to the Women's Studies Pamphlet collection. Folders which contained groups of newsletters or journals were separated into individual files labeled with the corresponding titles and integrated into Series 2. Finally, items dated from the late 1980s and early- to mid-1990s, which were considered interpolations, were removed; some were added to the Women's Studies Pamphlet collection, while others were held by Collection Management. In Series 2, letters A-D of the alphabetical listing were reported missing by the original processor. According to her note, they were apparently lost in the transfer of the materials from the Women's Studies department to the care of Ms. Betty Day. It is uncertain whether this affected subject files, publications or both.
The collection was then placed into acid-free folders and alphabetized. The contents of folders holding only magazines, newsletters, and newspapers were placed in chronological order; otherwise, the original order remains. Material found in one of the three series which would be more appropriate in another series was transferred to the applicable one. A catalogue of the contents of the three series was created, in which notations were made regarding size and location. Materials originating outside the Washington D.C. metro area were labeled with appropriate city and state, or city and country; oversize newsletters were labeled as such. Paper clips, staples, and fasteners of any type were removed and replaced with Plastiklips or sheets of acid-free bond paper when the document was too thick to be clipped. The processed folders were placed in acid-free storage boxes and labeled. Finally, the guide was written. The guide was reviewed and revised in 2011 by Allison C. Heinbaugh. Series 3 was incorporated into Series 2, which was renamed "Subject Files and Publications" to reflect the change. Oversized materials, which include the entirety of the former Series 3, remained separated in appropriately-sized boxes.