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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1205: T-598: Vt-348

Records of the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers, 1950-2018


Meeting minutes, membership rosters, financials, correspondence, reports, awards, curricula, presentations, special projects, photographs, clippings, audiovisual material, digital records, and an archived website documenting the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers.


  • 1950-2018


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research. Student transcripts and copies of personal checks were closed by the processor to protect personally identifiable information and are closed until the likely death of the individuals. Researchers must contact Research Services for access to audiovisual material and the following electronic files: E.23-E.36.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other records in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


6.88 linear feet ((16 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 3 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 1 audiotape, 1 videotape, archived web site content)

The records of the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers document the affairs of the organization since its founding in 1950. These records document the changing workplace and the outreach/advocacy efforts of the chapter to increase the standing of women in the profession as well as how the organization supported professional development opportunities to aid in the career advancement of individual members. The collection includes general organizational records such as meeting agendas, meeting minutes, committee reports, financials, correspondence, membership rosters, executive committee nominations, bylaws, and operational manuals. The collection also includes clippings featuring members, award nominations documenting members' achievements, scholarship applications, and subject files on women in the workforce, two-income households, and women in management positions. The collection also includes photographs, audiovisual material, and born digital records, as well as the Boston Section's website, which is being captured periodically as part of Schlesinger Library's web archiving program.

The Boston Section outreach committee created career education programming to encourage school-aged girls to pursue engineering. This material documents projects including a coloring book (Terry's Trip), Girl Scouts badge workshops, coordinated outreach and engagement with high school guidance counselors, and a summer camp curriculum created in partnership with NASA to particularly engage girls of color to enter the engineering profession. Membership communication, youth outreach, scholarship applications, programming and events may be of particular interest to researchers to see what efforts the organization underwent to encourage more women and girls to enter the engineering field. Award nominations, special events information featuring speakers, and conference literature may be of interest to researchers seeking out information about specific women in engineering.

The material is organized chronologically. A photograph book, audiovisual material, memorabilia, and oversized folders are listed at the end of the finding aid. Most file titles are created by the processor; file titles in quotes are original to the organization's file naming.


The National Society of Women Engineers (SWE) was founded in 1950 following several years of informal meetings in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York, New York, Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC. Its purpose was to inform the public of the availability of qualified women engineers, to foster a favorable attitude in industry towards them, and to contribute to their professional advancement. The Society of Women Engineers came to serve as an informational center on women in engineering by conducting surveys, offering career guidance, hosting conferences, and administering award programs. The Boston Section, initially named the New England Branch, was started by four charter members in 1950. Over the years, the geographical delineation of the Boston Section shifted from generally New England to specifically the greater Boston area. In the early 1990s a group of Boston Section members began meeting as the MetroWest Satellite Group and eventually chartered the New England Shoreline SWE Section. Members also chartered a New Hampshire Section in 2005. Radcliffe College alumnae, Martha Jane Bergin Thomas, was among active members of the Boston Section in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Boston Section has remained a large and active chapter of the Society of Women Engineers partly due to their connection with the many colleges and universities in the area. Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Northeastern University have had heavy involvement since the founding of the Boston Section. The Boston Section supports Society of Women Engineers Student Sections at colleges and universities. They also award scholarships to engineering students. The Boston Section also collaborated with other engineering-related professional organizations such as Engineering Societies of New England which was a council style membership organization of professional organizations. They also collaborated with organizations and efforts concerning professional women such as the Alumnae of MIT Association and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Women Network.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2001-M17, 2003-M1, 2003-M58, 2003-M106, 2004-M143, 2005-M126, 2007-M147, 2008-M54, 2008-M154, 2009-M46, 2009-M167, 2009-M230, 2010-M20, 2010-M121, 2010-M193, 2011-M109, 2012-M73, 2012-M224, 2013-M219, 2015-M195, 2017-M66, 2018-M111

The records of the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers in January 2001 through June 2018.

Processing Information

Processed: March 2023

By: Maria Lee, with assistance from Yolande E. Bennett

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Society of Women Engineers. Boston Section. Records of the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers, 1950-2018: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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