About the project
The Center for the History of Medicine holds one of the largest collections of medical rare books, objects, archives, and manuscripts in the nation. However, a 1999 survey of the Center's holdings revealed that of the 900 or so faculty collections, fewer than 20 were created by women, and only one of these was processed and accessible for research. The evidence of women's contributions to Harvard medicine was largely missing.
The Archives for Women in Medicine is bridging this gap in documentation by collecting, preparing for access, and promoting the papers of outstanding women in Harvard medicine. With continued funding, we will expand our collecting activities to include more female pioneers in academic medicine and reflect the ongoing evolution of women's contributions in medicine, both at Harvard and nationally. Such collections will provide enduring access to the behind-the-scenes evidence of the struggles overcome by this cohort of women, evidence that would otherwise be lost forever.
The process of making these collections accessible is costly and labor intensive, but we must balance this cost against the value of the records that box contains. As we expand the reach of the Archives for Women in Medicine, support will be critical in enabling us to keep up with incoming collections, ensuring that these raw materials of history can be discovered, accessed, and interpreted. Over the past three years, we brought inspiring stories from the archives to affiliated hospitals and institutes by planning special events that celebrate their women leaders. We are now also engaged in an effort to share and publicize these unique resources even farther.
In the words of Dr. Eleanor Shore, AWM Committee Chair:
The ultimate goal is to create a community of scholars, scientists, historians, archivists, and students who are interested in using the tools of the past to influence the future.
We are seeking $ 2.5 million in endowment funds to support the programs annual operating budget of $100,000 which covers the archivists salary, communications and outreach activities, and events. The Countway Library's Center for the History of Medicine provides office space and absorbs overhead costs, records storage, professional development and supervision, and support from museum, cataloging and description, and public services specialists, so your contribution goes further. Every gift, however, makes a difference-- from the hundred dollars needed to reformat digital records or digitize a notebook, to the hundreds needed to record and transcribe an audio interview or the thousands needed to prepare a manuscripts collection for research access. In 2014, your contributions funded the processing of the collection of herpesvirologist Priscilla Schaffer, one of the first women full professors at HMS. There are many more collections to acquire and open to research!
Will you help us? See Support Our Activities for more information.