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Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00354

Scope and Contents

The Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund Records consist of administrative and project records of the VGIF. Because VGIF officers have requested that additions to the records be processed periodically, the container list consists of three parts. Though there is some overlap of dates in all three parts, materials in Part I (8.5 linear feet) document the years 1969 to 1996, the bulk of the materials in Part II (9.5 linear feet) cover the years 1993 to 2001, and Part III (14.5 linear feet) primarily documents the years 2000 to 2011. More records will be added when they are no longer in current use by the organization. Parts I, II and III are each arranged in three series:


Approximately one third of the collection is comprised of files of the Officers, the Board of Trustees/Directors, and the Annual Meetings of the general membership. The administrative files are for the most part complete and span the organization's entire history, with some exceptions: the records of the Secretary cover only 1972 to 1978 and 1993 to 1996, and the years 1985 and 1986 are missing from the files of the Board of Directors/Trustees. The correspondence and memoranda are extensive, and reveal much about the workings of the Officers and the Board with regard to the purpose and function of the organization.

The rest of the collection consists of the files of various committees, particularly those of the Project Grants Committee, whose members screen grant applications and recommend, semi-annually, the most promising ones to the Board of Trustees/Directors for funding. Records of VGIF sponsorship of the International Federation of University Women and of the Asian Women's Institute are particularly strong, and other project grants are also well documented. For a concise overview of the history of VGIF (UW) committees, see "Final Report of VGIF Task Force on Organizational Structure, 2007" in Box 57, Folder 16.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1969 - 2012


Language of Materials

Estonian, Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Kisii, Bangla, Haitian Creole, Spanish

Conditions Governing Access

At the direction of the donor, this collection is available for research use with the condition that researchers must sign an access agreement prior to use, agreeing, in writing, not to use personal identifiers until 25 years from date of creation of the document. In addition, VGIF requests that a log be kept of permissions asked and granted, and that it be shared with the organization. Please consult with special collections staff at to begin this process.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the VGIF Records. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright to materials created by other individuals or organizations may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Originally called the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund for University Women, the Virginia Gildersleeve Inernational Fund (VGIF) was founded in 1969 by a group of women affiliated with the International Federation of University Women. They sought to create a fund to provide monies for projects "which further the development of educational theory and practice, foster the development of human resources, and advance the cause of mutual understanding and cooperation among university women throughout the world," particularly in developing nations. The incorporators named the fund for Virginia Gildersleeve, Dean of Barnard College from 1911 to 1947, in honor of her commitment to the concept that women college graduates could, given the resources, make significant contributions to the development of their countries and to the world at large. To this end, the organization regularly underwrites conferences, workshops, and educational projects undertaken by individuals and organizations all over the world. Funded projects typically included conferences on international women's issues, small-scale economic schemes, micro-credit loans, educational activities, environmental endeavors, sex education and HIV-related projects. In 1997, the VGIF achieved NGO status at the United Nations. In 2019, the organization rebranded and changed its name to the Women First International Fund.

For a comprehensive history of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, please see History: 1968-1978, by former president Althea K. Hottel in SERIES I: ADMINISTRATION.


40.063 linear feet (87 containers)

24.90296 Gigabytes


International organization. Records of officers, Board of Trustees and directors, and annual meetings make up approximately half of the collection. Correspondence and memoranda are extensive. The other half consists of files of various committees, including the Project Grants Committee, whose members screen grant applications and semi-annually recommend the most promising ones to the Board of Trustees and directors for funding. Records of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF) sponsorship of the International Federation of University Women and of the Asian Women's Institute are particularly strong, and other project grants are well-documented.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The officers of the corporation began donating the records of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund in 1989, and have continued to add to them on a regular basis, most recently in 2017.

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger in 1998 and 2004 and by Kate Sumner in 2015. Finding aid revised by Ashlynn August, 2014, and by Kate Sumner, 2015.

The contents of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created. Some CDs were unable to be copied. See the log files linked in the container list for more details.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2017-S-0025, Boxes 1-4 renumbered as Boxes 83-86

Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund records
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by Burd Schlessinger and Kate Sumner.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Processing of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund Records was made possible by the generous support of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:23-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2020-06-24: Description added for born-digital content.
  • 2020-07-27: Information added to historical note to reflect the organization's 2019 name change.
  • 2021-07-14: Content listing added from accession inventory

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063