Records of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, 1930-2019
Records of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, including correspondence, administrative records, conference files, photographs, and t-shirts.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Records are unrestricted, with the following exceptions: conference program committee records discussing the quality or acceptability of programs or speakers and or performance of members of the committee itself are closed for ten years from date of creation. Article and book prize evaluations are closed for fifteen years from date of creation. Certain financial records containing potentially active account information are closed until redacted or for 50 years from the most recent date in the files. These include #6.12-6.16, 88.10-89.7, 90.2, 90.6, 90.8-90.9, 90.12, 90.14-90.15, 90.17-91.5, 91.22-91.23, 94.17, 95.15, and additional statements removed from tax folders.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians 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. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent39.59 linear feet ((94 file boxes, 1 card file box) plus 9 folio+ folders, 14 photograph folders, 4 objects, 3 archived web sites)
12.7 Megabytes (15 files)
This collection contains the records of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and includes a small previously processed collection of BCWH records (MC 267). Where possible, original folder titles have been maintained and appear in quotation marks.
Electronic records were received on 3 compact disks, 12 5.25" disks and 6 3.5" disks. Disks were imaged using FTK Imager. 549 files were retained, including documents, spreadsheets, correspondence, reports, an old web site and lists. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery purposes. An older version of the web site (#E.1) is available by appointment only. Please contact the Reference Desk. In addition, 9486 emails were retained. E-mail (#E.14) was extracted using ePADD, a software package developed by Stanford University. An appointment is necessary to access e-mail. Please contact the Reference Desk.
Additional material received in 2011-2019 (accession numbers 2011-M131, 2017-M155, 2018-M157, 2018-M167, 2019-M98) were added to the collection in June 2019. Accession number 2019-M163 was added to the collection in October 2019. These materials are housed in #88.1-95.15, F+D.6-F+D.7, PD.11-PD.14, Mem.4, E.4-E.14, E.19. All other files remain in the same order. Folders are listed in intellectual, not numerical, order.
For papers given at the conferences, see Berkshire Conferences on the History of Women Papers, 1974-2005 (MC 244) at the Schlesinger Library.
Series I, ADMINISTRATION, 1930-2019 (#1.1-13.15, 88.1-93.5, E.1-E.14, E.19), contains records documenting the development of the organization and its ongoing work. Included are founding documents (constitution and early officer correspondence), as well as reports and minutes from the annual business meetings, known as Little Berks.
Subseries A, History and organization, 1951-2014 (#1.1-1.14, 88.1-88.7, E.1-E.3), contains documents and correspondence related to the history and development of the BCWH. Included are articles of incorporation, by-laws, and constitution; legal forms relating to the organization's tax exempt status; corporate documents which were compiled by President Ruth Karras in order to revise the articles of incorporation (#88.3-88.4); a transcript of an interview with members Elizabeth Kimball and Margaret Judson (#1.5); and a 1951 statement of the origins of the conference by Louise Brown (#1.4). Also included is a small group of published obituaries of BCWH members. BCWH's web site from 2010 onwards is being captured periodically as part of Schlesinger Library's web archiving program. An appointment is necessary to access earlier versions of the web site (#E.1) which are accessible via a zip file. Please contact the Reference Desk.
Subseries B, Officers, 1930-2019 (#1.15-11.4, 88.8-92.9, E.4-E.14, E.19), contains correspondence, notes, and reports from the various officers, presidents, and secretary/treasurers of the BCWH. Many of the files are in their original order and may include information and topics duplicating and overlapping with other materials found elsewhere in the collection. The correspondence pertains to Big Berks, Little Berks, and other meetings; membership; committees; activism; and general administration. The presidents' files are arranged chronologically by name. Secretary/treasurer files are arranged alphabetically and contain correspondence, financial records, and membership files. These records reflect the three primary functions of the secretary/treasurer, including correspondence with leadership, members, and vendors; banking and accounting; and record keeping about former, current, and prospective BCWH members. Within correspondence, the files are arranged chronologically and include communications on a variety of topics relating to the three functions. Secretary Laura Lovett's electronic files (#E.4-E.13) include correspondence regarding membership, meetings, etc., meeting minutes, reports, attendance lists, schedules, article and book prize citations, planning materials, etc. Berkshire Conference e-mails (#E.14) mostly refer to the planning of the Big Berks in 2005, but also include Big Berks 2003, planning of Little Berks, membership information, book prize, and the newsletter. See also Series I, Subseries C and Series II for additional officer correspondence.
Subseries C, Meetings, 1960-2010 (#11.5-13.15, 92.10-93.5), mainly consists of records of BCWH annual meetings (Little Berks) and other meetings that took place during the Berkshire Conferences (Big Berks). Records include minutes, reports, schedules, financial information, attendee lists, correspondence, committee and trustee files, and information about gatherings at the annual American Historical Association meeting. For photographs of Little Berks meetings, see Series IV. For additional correspondence relating to meetings, particularly for 1931-1959, see Series I, Subseries B.
Series II, THE BERKSHIRE CONFERENCE ON THE HISTORY OF WOMEN, 1972-2017 (#13.16-83.7, 93.6-95.11, 16CB, F+D.1-F+D.2, F+D.6-F+D.7, E.15-E.18), contains items relating to the triennial conference on women's history, known informally as the "Big Berks." The first conference was held in March 1973. Originally envisioned as an annual event, after the 1974 conference the board decided to hold it every two years due to significant workload and exponential growth in attendance. After 1978, it became a triennial event. Until 2005, when it was held at Scripps College in California, the conference took place exclusively on the East Coast. The records contained in this series reflect the efforts made by BCWH members to plan and coordinate the conferences and then facilitate the local hosting. Included are administrative materials; requests for proposals; proposal evaluations; materials on the selection of conference presenters; and logistical details.
The series contains seventeen subseries arranged chronologically by conference. Within each subseries the records are further arranged alphabetically, and include announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, and program committee files. Although most of the conference files contain local arrangement and program committee records, each conference was planned by a different group of rotating conference co-chairs and program committee members. Thus, similar records may appear within local arrangements materials for one conference and program committee files for another. Many Big Berks records were donated by program committee members (e.g., the bulk of materials for the Ninth Conference were donated by program committee co-chairs Margaret Hunt and Elaine Abelson). However, in some cases, the records may have originated from the presidents or secretary/treasurers (e.g., the Eleventh Conference subseries contains extensive correspondence from President Claudia Koonz; the majority of files for the Twelfth are from President Margaret Hunt; and the Thirteenth mostly consists of items from administrative staff member Jennifer Thigpen, President Vicki Ruiz, and Secretary/Treasurer Susan Yohn).
Local arrangements and program committee files comprise the bulk of material in this series and may include files which originated from BCWH officers or administrative staff who were not officially on the committees but who were engaged in related types of activities. Local arrangements files contain logistical planning materials and include legal agreements between the BCWH and host colleges or universities; registration lists; some book exhibit and event coordination; and correspondence and working files of the local arrangements coordinator – a position also known as the local arrangements director or the faculty liaison, depending on the conference. Program committee records largely document the administrative work related to the receipt, evaluation, and selection of conference proposals. Materials may include program committee member lists; correspondence and working files of BCWH presidents, conference co-chairs or committee members; inquiries regarding the mailing list; files regarding conference entertainment and extracurricular events; book exhibit materials; financial records such as budgets and correspondence regarding travel grants for international participants; and proposals arranged variously by reviewer's last name, proposer's last name, general topic, or specific panel topic. Items also include proposal evaluations such as critique sheets or evaluation flash cards; annotated lists of possible presenters; and accepted and rejected proposals with annotations. Program committee files may also include session planning materials such as correspondence with volunteer session chairs, and regarding scheduling. In the later conferences, there were additional administrative staff member positions, and their responsibilities may have included both local arrangements and program-related tasks. Conference publicity and reports are listed at the end of each subseries. See also Series I, Subseries B for additional officer correspondence relating to the Big Berks.
Subseries A, First Conference, Douglass College (March 2-3, 1973), 1972-1973 (#13.16), contains the conference program, an information sheet and correspondence.
Subseries B, Second Conference, Radcliffe College (October 25-27, 1974), 1974-1975 (#13.17-15.4), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Third Conference, Bryn Mawr College (June 9-11, 1976), 1975-1977 (#15.5-17.10, 16CB), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries D, Fourth Conference, Mount Holyoke College (August 23-25, 1978), 1977-1979 (#17.11-21.2), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries E, Fifth Conference, Vassar College (June 16-18, 1981), 1978-1982 (#21.3-26.8), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries F, Sixth Conference, Smith College (June 1-3, 1984), 1981-1984 (#26.9-33.17, F+D.1-F+D.2, F+D.6-F+D.7), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries G, Seventh Conference, Wellesley College (June 19-21, 1987), 1984-1987 (#33.18-39.13), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries H, Eighth Conference, Douglass College (June 8-10, 1990), 1986-1991 (#40.1-50.5, E.15-E.17), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries I, Ninth Conference, Vassar College (June 11-13, 1993), 1988-1993 (#50.6-67.3), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. The bulk of materials for the Ninth Conference were donated by program committee co-chairs Margaret Hunt and Elaine Abelson. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries J, Tenth Conference, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (June 7-9, 1996), 1993-1996 (#67.4-75.9), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries K, Eleventh Conference, University of Rochester (June 4-6, 1999), 1996-2000 (#75.10-79.10), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, program committee files, and reports. The Eleventh Conference subseries contains extensive correspondence from President Claudia Koonz. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries L, Twelfth Conference, University of Connecticut (June 6-9, 2002), 1999-2002 (#79.11-81.18, 93.6-93.7), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, and program committee files. The majority of files for the Twelfth are from President Margaret Hunt. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries M, Thirteenth Conference, Scripps College (June 2-5, 2005), 2002-2006 (#82.1-83.7, 93.8-93.18, E.18), includes announcements (calls for papers), conference programs, local arrangements, and program committee files. Material mostly consists of items from administrative staff member Jennifer Thigpen, President Vicki Ruiz, and Secretary/Treasurer Susan Yohn. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries N, Fourteenth Conference, University of Minnesota (June 12-15, 2008), 2006-2009 (#93.19-94.5), includes files from Treasurer Susan Yohn containing financial information; receipts; invoices; funding requests from foreign participants, etc. Also includes annual meeting minutes, University of Minnesota contract, announcement (call for papers). Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries O, Fifteenth Conference, University of Massachusetts (June 8-12, 2011), 2008-2011 (#94.6-94.7), includes correspondence, notes regarding conference planning; draft of the 2008 Berks conference final report; and the conference program. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries P, Sixteenth Conference, University of Toronto St. George, Canada (May 22-25, 2014), 2013-2015 (#94.8-94.12), includes the conference program and financial information, including expenses, registration, and book exhibit invoices. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries Q, Seventeenth Conference, Hofstra University (June 1-4, 2017), 2013-2017 (#94.13-95.11), includes conference program; financial information, including insurance policy, book exhibit invoices, food costs, registration, etc.; facility and housing agreement with Hofstra University; draft call for papers; and program and theme descriptions (#94.16). Files are arranged alphabetically.
Series III, AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS, 1968-2012 (#83.8-87.11, 95.12-95.15), contains files relating to scholarly prizes awarded by the BCWH. Beginning in 1969, the BCWH awarded an annual book prize for the best work published by a woman historian during the preceding year. In 1973, they also began awarding a prize to the best scholarly article published by a woman historian during the previous year. The files contain announcements, award winner lists, correspondence, and evaluations produced by the BCWH Article and Book Prize Committees. Also included are materials relating to three fellowships sponsored by the BCWH, including the Berkshire Summer Fellowship at the Bunting Institute (known as the "Bunting Fellowship" of the former Radcliffe College), the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession and the Conference Group on Women's History/Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Graduate Student Award (CCWHP-CGWH), and the CGWH-Prelinger Scholarship award. Related items include correspondence, award winner lists, applications, and evaluations of candidates.
Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1930-2007 (#PD.1-PD.14), includes images showing members at Little Berks meetings, and participants at the Fourth and Twelfth Berkshire Conferences. Of note are two early images of members, including Viola Barnes and Mildred Campbell in the 1930s (#PD.1).
Series V, MEMORABILIA AND OVERSIZED, 1981-1993 (#Mem.1-Mem.3, Mem.4, F+D.1-F+D.7), contains t-shirts and oversized materials removed from throughout the collection. The oversized listing also serves as a shelflist for oversized items found throughout this collection and listed previously in the series above.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.
The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (BCWH) was founded in 1930 by historians Louise Fargo Brown of Vassar College and Louise Ropes Loomis of Wells College in response to women's sense of marginalization at the American Historical Association's annual meetings. Initially called the Lakeville History Group, in 1935 the name changed to the BCWH since most of the meetings took place in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The BCWH was created to "facilitate [the] exchange of ideas and foster friendship among women historians" (according to its constitution), at first through its annual collegial business retreat for members (which came to be known as "Little Berks"), and later through its conferences on the history of women, which started in 1973. Inspired by the burgeoning interest in women's history, the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women (or the "Big Berks") functioned less as an administrative meeting and more as an opportunity for professional historians to present their research on women's history, network with colleagues, and discuss their work with other historians. This conference, held every two to three years, continues to attract scholars from throughout the United States and abroad. The BCWH sustains an activist role in supporting women's history and women historians place in the historical profession, sponsors book and article prizes, and funds graduate fellowships. Additional information on the history of the organization and its activities is available on their web site: https://berksconference.org/.
The collection is arranged in five series:
- Series I. Administration, 1930-2019 (#1.1-13.15, 88.1-93.5, E.1-E.14, E.19)
- Series II. Berkshire Conferences on the History of Women, 1972-2017 (#13.16-83.7, 93.6-95.11, 16 CB, F+D.1-F+D.2, E.15-E.18)
- Series III. Awards and fellowships, 1968-2012 (#83.8-87.11, 95.12-95.15)
- Series IV. Photographs, ca.1930-2007 (#PD.1-PD.14)
- Series V. Memorabilia and oversized, 1981-1993 (#Mem.1-Mem.3, Mem.4, F+D.1-F+D.7)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 1021, 76-352, 78-M136, 79-M276, 80-M118, 81-M166, 81-M184, 81-M192, 81-M233, 82-M114, 83-M30, 83-M53, 83-M61, 83-M122, 83-M212, 83-M253, 83-M259, 84-M142, 84-M157, 84-M192, 86-M10, 87-M125, 87-M151, 87-M188, 88-M111, 88-M116, 88-M117, 88-M126, 88-M127, 89-M131, 90-M28, 90-M146, 90-M216, 91-M17, 91-M38, 91-M98, 92-M21, 92-M130, 92-M173, 93-M119, 93-M124, 93-M134, 93-M164, 93-M195, 94-M8, 94-M22, 94-M81, 94-M89, 95-M28, 95-M36, 95-M54, 95-M87, 97-M39, 97-M43, 97-M62, 2000-M109, 2003-M96, 2003-M123, 2003-M132, 2003-M116, 2006-M149, 2007-M176, 2007-M210. Accession numbers 2011-M131, 2017-M155, 2018-M157, 2018-M167, 2019-M78, 2019-M98 were added in June 2019. Accession number 2019-M163 was added in October 2019.
The records of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians were given to the Schlesinger Library by various officers of the Berkshire Conference in 1966 and between 1976 and 2019.
For papers given at the conferences, see Berkshire Conferences on the History of Women Papers, 1974-2009 (MC 244) at the Schlesinger Library.
Donors: Berkshire Conference of Women Historians
Accession numbers: 1021, 76-352--2007-M210
Processed by: Mary O. Murphy and Laura Peimer
The following items have been removed from the collection:
- Newsletters and small publications transferred to the Schlesinger Library periodicals (and memorabilia) collections
- Selection of conference programs transferred to MC 244
Processed: September 2009
By: Mary O. Murphy and Laura Peimer
Updated: June 2019, October 2019
By: Laura Peimer with assistance from Ashley Thomas.
- Associations, institutions, etc.--United States
- Business meetings--United States
- Career development--United States
- College teachers--United States
- Electronic records
- Feminism and higher education--United States
- Feminists--United States
- Historians--United States
- History--Study and teaching (Higher)--United States
- Lesbian college teachers--United States
- Lesbians--United States
- Membership lists
- New England--Intellectual life--20th Century
- Reviews (document genre)
- Sex discrimination in higher education--United States
- Universities and colleges--Faculty
- Web archives
- Women historians--United States
- Women scholars--United States
- Women--Scholarships, fellowships, etc.
- Women--Social networks--United States
- Women--United States--Societies and clubs
- Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. Records of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, 1930-2019: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- Processing of this collection was made possible by Radcliffe Class of 1956 and the Mary Mitchell Wood Manuscript Processing Fund.
- EAD ID
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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