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International Council of Women records

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00352

Scope and Contents

The International Council of Women records are by no means the complete body of records for this organization. They appear to be a more idiosyncratic collection, possibly donated by a member active in the 1950s and 1960s. They include correspondence, minutes and committee reports; records of international conferences; constitutions; membership lists; and publications, including biographical information on Lady Ishbel Aberdeen, Rachel Foster Avery, May Wright Sewall, Frances Willard, and other ICW leaders. The committee files include material regarding the ICW's activities in specific subject areas, such as fine arts, health, education, housing, suffrage, laws, social welfare, trades and professions, The United Nations, and peace. Correspondents include Vera Beggs and Alice M.Stetten.

Dates of Materials

  • 1888 - 1981

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

The International Council of Women (ICW), founded in 1888, was one of the first international women's organizations. The second international conference of the National Woman Suffrage Association, called by Susan B. Anthony, May Wright Sewall, and other suffragists, created the ICW. The aim of the conference was to form a National Council of Women in each self-governing country of the world. The councils would bring women from many countries together to work for women, not only in the cause of suffrage, but on many fronts. The United States National Council formed immediately, but progress elsewhere was slow. By 1893, Canada had formed a national body. In Great Britain the National Union of Women Workers federated with the National Council of Women in 1898 and later changed its name to the International Council of Women. By 1938 the number of councils affiliated with the ICW, which had developed into one of the best known and most consulted of women's international organizations, had risen to thirty-six.

In the early years of its existence, the ICW promoted National Councils and gained acceptance in the international community, but it's primary activity was planning the regular congresses. The ICW, regarded by members of other women's groups as the most conservative of women's international organizations, took pride in it's reputation, viewing it as a consequence of maintaining a broad program. It's early refusal to take a position on suffrage contributed to the formation of more radical organizations, such as the International Alliance of Women. In 1899, the Council began to take on more substantive issues, forming an International Standing Committee on Peace and International Arbitration. Other standing committees were soon established, and through them, the ICW became involved in issues from suffrage to health.

World War II caused great disorganization in the Council's work. Some national councils discontinued their work altogether; in others the leadership and organization were disrupted. In 1946, the ICW met in Philadelphia to re-focus its efforts and recover its former unity. The Conference issued a statement condemning war and all crimes against humanity, as well as demanding a more active role for women in the national and international arena.

Since its inception in 1888, the ICW's aims have been consistent-the unification of women's organizations for action to promote human rights, sexual equality, peace, and women's involvement in the international sphere. As of 2002, there are National Councils in seventy-five countries, and Regional Councils in America and Europe. The ICW continues to organize women globally, focusing on local education and health programs.

For further information about the ICW see: Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women's Movement by Leila J. Rupp (Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, 1997).

Extent

1.5 linear feet (4 containers)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

The International Council of Women, founded in 1888, was one of the first international women's organizations. The second international conference of the National Woman Suffrage Association, called by Susan B. Anthony, May Wright Sewall, and other suffragists, created the ICW. This is a small collection, including correspondence, minutes and committee reports, records of international conferences, constitutions, membership lists, and publications, including biographical information on ICW leaders. Topics include fine arts, health, education, housing, suffrage, laws, social welfare, trades and professions, The United Nations, and peace.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into five series:
  1. I. Organization and Administration
  2. II. Committees
  3. III. Conferences and Meetings
  4. IV. Publications
  5. V. National Councils

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The provenance of the ICW Records is unknown. It appears that a member of the Council, possibly Grace Gallatin Seton, whose papers are also in the SSC, may have donated her own files.

Bibliography

Rupp, Leila J. Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women's Movement. (Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, 1997).
Title
Finding aid to the International Council of Women records
Status
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Author
Finding aid prepared by Amy Hague
Date
2003
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss96 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-04-22: Made paper FA pencil edit change and updated finding aid.

Repository Details

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

Contact:
Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063