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The World Center for Women’s Archives, 1936
Courtesy, New Jersey Historical Society

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During the 1930s, Mary Beard, author, historian, and wife of historian Charles Beard, initiated the organization of a World Center for Women’s Archives. The invitation, above, for a meeting to be held at the Newark Museum, was issued by a committee of New Jersey women who felt that women’s activities were overlooked by historians and that women’s papers and archives should be preserved.

The brief newspaper article from 1941, above, describes the efforts of the World Center to compile a list for the Newark Public Library of 100 famous New Jersey women. Included in this list are names of women such as Patience Wright, Clara Barton, Charlotte Emerson Brown, Hetty Green, Mary Xavier Mehegan and others known today to women historians of New Jersey, but also names less well known.

The World Center for Women’s Archives was never fully established because of funding problems, but some of its records entered the collections of the New Jersey Historical Society. Other records went to the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College, Harvard University and the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, now two of the finest repositories of women’s papers in the nation. This effort spearheaded by Mary Beard can be seen as a precursor to the work of the Women’s Project of New Jersey, Inc. in reclaiming the history of the state’s women.

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