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International Council of Women Records, 1888-1959
4 boxes (1.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 352

Abstract:
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.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The Records are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Historical Note

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.

Flyer for International Council of Women  on objectives and history of the organization, 1950

Flyer for International Council of Women on
objectives and history of the organization, 1950

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).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

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.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The Records are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

International Council of Women Records, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

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.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Amy Hague, 2002 .


Additional Information
Contact Information
Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email Reference Form: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/emailform.html
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/

Language
English.
Bibliography

Rupp, Leila J. Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women's Movement. (Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, 1997).