Women's School of Planning and Architecture Records
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Women's School of Planning and Architecture Records consist of 10.5 linear feet of audiotapes, correspondence, memorabilia, memoranda, minutes, films, photographs, publications, slides, videotapes, and other materials. They date from 1974 to 1992 with the bulk of the materials documenting the period between 1974 and 1981. The Records contain rich documentation of the founding, planning, and operation of the School. They provide a detailed account of the successes and struggles of an experimental, non-hierarchical educational institution founded at the height of the 1970s women's movement.
The intentions of the School's founders are well documented in the publications and publicity materials in Series I as well as the Coordinators' Records (Series II). Because the Coordinators were scattered geographically and thus forced to communicate primarily by mail, the written record of their work is exceptionally rich. True to the experimental and unconventional nature of the organization, information in Series II is rarely in standardized formal documents such as minutes and reports. Formal minutes exist for a relatively brief period, but other kinds of records of the work of the group, such as notes and circular letters, abound.
Nearly two-thirds of the total volume of the surviving records is materials created for or during the sessions themselves. Sensitive to the ground breaking nature of their endeavor, the Coordinators arranged for extensive written and audio visual documentation of the first WSPA session in 1975, when large portions of the session were captured on video and audiotape (available in Series III and Series IV). Included in the Records is a finished film about the 1975 session. Documentation of sessions after 1975 is less comprehensive.
Related materials in the Sophia Smith Collection can be found in the personal papers of WSPA co-founder Noel Phyllis Birkby.