Oral History Archives at Columbia
 

Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality Oral History Collection, 2014-2015

Summary Information

Abstract

The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWGS) at Columbia University is an interdisciplinary institute for feminist scholarship and education. It was established as the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWAG) in 1987. Anticipating its 25th anniversary, the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWGS) approached the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) in 2012, about an oral history project to document the history of the department and the growth and development of feminism at Columbia. The IRWGS Oral History Project was conducted with funding from the President's Office and was the first project undertaken by CCOHR in its new home at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE). Interviews with current and past directors of IRWGS, affiliated and allied faculty, administrators, and students were conducted between 2014 and 2015. The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality Oral History Project is comprised of interviews with 36 individuals involved in the founding and development of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWGS) at Columbia University. Interviewers conducted these interviews over 68 sessions, creating over 90 hours of recordings. Nine of these sessions were recorded on video, and interviews have been transcribed. Interviewers were guided by a set of research questions, which emphasized the role of IRWGS as a political actor within the broader context of Columbia University, agitating for the inclusion of feminist analysis and practice. As the project progressed, questions expanded to explore issues of generation, activism, the developments within feminism(s), evidence of increasing support of IRWGS by the university, and the challenge of addressing diversity, sexuality and other forms of social difference theoretically and as professional practice.

At a Glance

Call No.: OHAC
Bib ID 11594421 View CLIO record
Creator(s)
Title Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality Oral History Collection, 2014-2015
Physical Description 35 volumes (transcripts: 2554 pp.); 285 Gigabytes (1,462 digital files)
Language(s) English
Access

This collection is located on-site.

Most interviews are open. Certain interviews in this collection are closed, and audio for certain interviews is conditionally closed. Access restrictions are described at the interview level.

Arrangement

Arrangement

Interviews are arranged alphabetically by last name of narrator, followed by Columbia Center for Oral History Research project documentation.

Description

Scope and Content

The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality Oral History Project is comprised of interviews with 36 individuals involved in the founding and development of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWGS) at Columbia University. Interviewers conducted these interviews over 68 sessions, creating over 90 hours of recordings. Nine of these sessions were recorded on video, and interviews have been transcribed. Three documents prepared by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research as a part of the project are also included in the collection: a timeline of the history of IRWGS, an overview of the collection, and project design documentation.

Interviewers were guided by a set of research questions, which emphasized the role of IRWGS as a political actor within the broader context of Columbia University, agitating for the inclusion of feminist analysis and practice. As the project progressed, questions expanded to explore issues of generation, activism, the developments within feminism(s), evidence of increasing support of IRWGS by the university, and the challenge of addressing diversity, sexuality and other forms of social difference theoretically and as professional practice.

The narrators include directors of IRWGS, affiliated and allied faculty, administrators, and students. Interviewed individuals are Lila Abu-Lughod, Rachel Adams, Annie Barry, Marcellus Blount, Sarah Chinn, Laura Ciolkowski, Julie Crawford, Patricia Dailey, Victoria DeGrazia, Mario DiGangi, Joan Ferrante, Melissa Fisher, Eric Foner, Farah Griffin, Hilary Hallett, Robert Hanning, Marianne Hirsch, Jean Howard, Martha Howell, Alice Kessler-Harris, Shamus Khan, Gillian Lindt, Ellen MacKay, Sharon Marcus, Christia Mercer, Maya Meredith, Rosalind Morris, Alondra Nelson, Greg Pflugfelder, Victoria Rosner, Barbara Simon, Gayatri Spivak, Vina Tran, Karen Van Dyck, Priscilla Wald, and Patricia Williams.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Access Restrictions

This collection is located on-site.

Most interviews are open. Certain interviews in this collection are closed, and audio for certain interviews is conditionally closed. Access restrictions are described at the interview level.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright held by Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.

Certain interviews in this collection have additional use restrictions, which are described at the interview level.

Related Material

Additional historical information and interview excerpts can be found at the Columbia Center for Oral History Research's website www.irwgsoralhistory.org.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Finding aid written by David Olson, Rebecca Breslaw, and Kelsey Decker, with adaptations of description by Sarah Dziedzic and other CCOH staff, and including faculty biographies collected by CCOH-R. 10/2015

Revision Description

2015-10-23 xml document instance created by David A. Olson

2019-06-08 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Interviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Oral histories Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Alumni and alumnae--Interviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Faculty--Interviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--Institute for Research on Women and Gender Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Feminism and higher education -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Feminist theory Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gay and lesbian studies -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Interdisciplinary approach in education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

History

The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWGS) at Columbia University is an interdisciplinary institute for feminist scholarship and education. It was established as the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWAG) in 1987. The foundation of an institute for feminist studies at Columbia occurred late compared with peer institutions, due in part to the fact that Columbia College did not accept female undergraduates until 1983.

The Institute was first headed by Carolyn Heilbrun of the English Department as the university initiated the search for a director. After a yearlong search from 1988-1989, Martha Howell was appointed as a Professor of History and the Director of the Institute. Funding from the Ford Foundation supported the initial design of undergraduate coursework, and at first the Institute relied heavily on Barnard College's course offerings.

In 1989, IRWAG received a grant from the Ford Foundation to integrate race and gender into its curriculum. By 1990, two students were awarded the university's first degrees in Women's Studies. In 1995, an Academic Review Committee called for the cross-appointment of four senior faculty lines, which were filled between 1998 and 2004. In 2007, an Academic Review Committee report on the Institute supported the establishment of the Center for the Study of Social Difference to serve as the research arm of the Institute and operate in conjunction with the Institute for Research in African American Studies, the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Barnard Center for Research on Women. The Institute's name was changed to IRWGS in 2013.

Disciplines represented by Institute faculty have included History, English and Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Law, and Philosophy. Directors of the Institute have included Carolyn Heilbrun (1987-1989), Martha Howell (1989-1994), Victoria de Grazia (1994-1996), Jean Howard (1997-1999), Rosalind Morris (1999-2000, 2001-2004), Christia Mercer (2000-2001), Lila Abu-Lughod (2004-07), Marianne Hirsch (2007-2008, 2015), Elizabeth Povinelli (2008-2011), Saidiya Hartman (2011-2013), Alondra Nelson (2013-2014), and Patricia Dailey (2014).