The Feminist Origins of the Barnard Center for Research on Women
As the 1960s drew to a close, a growing chorus of voices within the Barnard community began calling for an official College response to the changes wrought and challenges posed by the Women’s Liberation Movement. After months of impassioned, contentious discussion among students, faculty-members, administrators, and alums, the Barnard Women’s Center, later renamed The Barnard Center for Research on Women, was founded in the fall of 1971.
We are now excited to share a new digital portal featuring public and internal papers from the Center’s inaugural year. The collection documents the fledgling research institution’s attempts to solidify its place within Barnard, define its purpose outside the academy, and achieve full expression of its commitment to women’s dignity, autonomy, and equality. Beneath it all lies a quieter story about individual women, bound as much by friendship as they were by political conviction.
This archive offers a snapshot of feminist history in the 1960s and 1970s, the institutionalization of women’s centers and women’s studies as an academic discipline, and feminist struggles taking place at colleges and universities, in healthcare and social service centers, in political organizations and neighborhood meetings across the country.
This digital portal is a pilot project in BCRW’s digital humanities initiative, and part of an ongoing collaboration with the Barnard Library to provide broader access to BCRW’s rich archives.
Thanks to the Barnard College Committee on Online and On-Campus Learning (COOL) for generous funding, and to Barnard Archivists and Librarians Shannon O’Neill and Martha Tenney, BCRW Community Archivist Che Gossett, Eva Vaillancourt BC ’15, and BCRW Research Assistants Kyara Andrade ’17 and Emma May ’18 for making this project possible.