“We don’t have the stories of interesting women,” said library public relations specialist Heidi Brett. “We have plenty of papers and documentation from men in this area, but we need to capture the stories of women.”
This month, the library opened the Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women’s Legacy Archive.
The archive contains oral histories, manuscripts, diary entries and other documents from influential Utah women of the last century. These women were politicians, business owners, community and religious leaders and academics — anyone who has inspired positive social or political change.
The library spent almost one year building the archives before opening them to the public. The time was spent pulling from other library collections and collecting new oral histories.
Brett said that even though the archives are now open, collection efforts are not finished.
“There are going to be women doing remarkable things every day,” she said. “These archives are an ongoing project.”
Aileen Clyde is leading the project, and the archives are named after her. Clyde has focused on spreading the word about the project throughout the state and soliciting historical contributions to the archives. She has also helped raise the necessary funds to maintain and digitize the archives.
Laci Tagge, a junior in communications, is looking forward to checking the archives out for herself. She believes they will be a useful resource for her and for other students researching history or gender.
The library hopes to facilitate this research by making the archives as accessible as possible. Students can visit the archives on the fourth floor of the library in the special collections reading room.
Kim Hackford-Peer, director of the Gender Studies program, has a different reason to be excited about the project.
“To have an official archive with an official name attached to it — that validates the importance of [women’s] contributions,” she said. “I really appreciate that.”
This validation is important to students across campus. Katrina Farkas, a pre-med student, believes the archives can remind people of women’s ability for achievement and inspire women who may not understand their potential.
“In this day and age, we know that women can do as much — or even more — as men can,” Farkas said. “I think this will open people’s eyes to that.”