“But There’s Nothing about What We Did”: Field Notes from the Trenches of Preserving Women’s History
Historian and Curator
Royal Alberta Museum
“But there’s nothing about what we did”: Field Notes from the Trenches of Preserving Women’s History
How do we overcome the reluctance of women to collect and donate their historical records to public archives? How do we get women to that “ah ha” moment that lets them believe their experiences are worthy of preservation? As a public historian engaged in exhibit development, historic preservation, and other public projects with diverse groups I constantly came up against the shortage of women’s material, and the narrow way in which what was there was interpreted. Preserving Women’s History: An Introductory Guide to Preserving the Records of Women’s Lives began to offer solutions by providing accessible advice to women, women’s groups, and the public at large on how to go about creating and preserving collections that would be revealing of women’s lives. I will use my recent work with the Life Members, The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta, to form the basis of a paper examining these questions. The story of this remarkable group of women and its ‘ah ha’ moment provides lessons in a fruitful approach to how we can increase awareness of the importance of systematically collecting women’s material, and increase deposits of women’s material to public archives.
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