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West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection

The West Virginia & Regional History Center is developing the WV Feminist Activist Collection to capture the voices and stories of native and transplanted West Virginians who have worked to affirm the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

The existing Collection includes a group of primary and secondary sources, with significant additions from five activist women and one activist organization. We will build on that foundation, expanding it to include more extensive documentation of the struggles, experiences, contributions, and accomplishments of feminist activists, supporting teaching, learning and research at WVU, in the broader state and regional communities, and beyond.

The feminist activist records, both written and oral, that are collected and preserved will make more complete our knowledge and understanding of how West Virginians sought to advance this nation’s ideals of freedom, justice and equality, intending that the state’s motto Montani Semper Liberi extends to all.

The planned expansion of the Collection will be led by faculty in the Libraries and in academic departments, supported by dedicated project staff. A representative group of West Virginians will serve in a consulting role to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion of voices representing all those who have been feminist activists.

Institutional and external funds will support the Collection’s expansion, maintenance, and use, helping to secure and preserve relevant materials and ensure their use. To sustain the collection, we aim to establish a permanent endowment to provide operational funds in perpetuity. We are currently accepting archival materials donations and financial contributions to support the work of the Feminist Activist Collection. Making a contribution in any amount is simple at https://give.wvu.edu/libraries-regional-history-center. Just select “WV & Regional History Center” as the fund, your dollar amount, and be sure to include a note that it’s for the Feminist Activist Collection.

Institutional and external funds support the creation and expansion of the Feminist Activist Archive, helping to secure and preserve relevant materials and making them available to the public.  If you are interested in the project, donating materials or would just like to learn more, contact Lori Hostuttler by email (lori.hostuttler@mail.wvu.edu) or phone (304-293-1116).

To further the work now, we are currently accepting individual financial contributions. It is our future aim to eventually provide a perpetual source of funding through endowment.  Making a contribution in any amount is simple at our Give WVU webpage. Just select “WV & Regional History Center” as the fund, your dollar amount, and be sure to include a note that it’s for the Feminist Activist Collection.  For questions or further information on making a financial gift, contact WVU Libraries Director of Development, Paula Martinelli, by email (paula.martinelli@mail.wvu.edu) or phone (304-293-0303).

What is feminist activism?

Women and men have addressed many important issues for women both in the state and beyond from a feminist perspective. This work has often required and resulted in legislative action as well as other actions reflecting our moral responsibility to right a wrong. These issues include, but are not limited to, four major categories:

Economic justice issues of employment safety, equal pay, labor relations, women owned businesses, equal opportunity in employment, and breaking barriers and confronting opposition as women sought to enter traditionally male areas of employment, among others.

Social justice issues relating to childcare, voter registration, race and ethnicity, discrimination, LGBTQ issues, international microeconomics, and disability rights.

Health related issues such as reproductive health, quality and accessible physical and mental health service, and women and violence are also part of feminist activism.

Professional development includes creativity, innovation, activism and informal and formal leadership positions in art, music, literature, as well as education and training and religious leadership.

These areas are not exclusive. Other activities may also be considered feminist activism for the purposes of the collection.

What we are collecting?

  • Oral histories
  • Correspondence both professional and personal  
  • Photographs 
  • Diaries / Journals 
  • Scrapbooks 
  • Audio and video recordings
  • Organizational records at the local/state level (national level likely archived somewhere else) 
  • Printed matter such as brochures, flyers, programs, bulletins  
  • Artwork, poetry, and other creative pursuits 
  • Legislative agenda and position papers
  • Women’s movement jewelry, hats, tee shirts, arm bands
  • Other records that document feminist activism

Check out this digital exhibit for some samples of the kinds of records that are being added to the collection.

Other things to know about participating:

  • Archivists will talk with you about donations and potentially scheduling an oral history interview.
  • Items can be deposited directly to the Center at its Morgantown location or collection pickup can be arranged.
  • Center staff may be able to copy selected items for inclusion in the collection and return the originals to the donors.   
  • Materials can be donated over time.
  • Financial donations in support of the project are also being accepted.

Questions? Contact:  

For more information, please call or email Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, at 304-293-1116 or lori.hostuttler@mail.wvu.edu.