Launch of the Jewish Women's Archive's Virtual Archive
On August 28, 1997 Boston's Jewish Advocate ran a story entitled "Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) set for launch into cyberspace," which outlined JWA's origin, mission, and work, and announced a new chapter in the organization's history. JWA was a young organization, just two years old, when the launch of its "virtual archive" was announced in the Advocate article. The goal of the virtual archive is to identify and link existing materials and archives around the country. JWA's founding director Gail Twersky Reimer explained that although Jewish women's letters, diaries, personal papers, and more exist, "most material is not readily identifiable and needs to be resurfaced." She envisioned the virtual archive as a gateway for scholars and the public to gain access to otherwise-hidden resources.
As Reimer told the Advocate, documenting existing collections is only part of JWA's mission. JWA was also working to create new materials, primarily by conducting oral history interviews with elderly women from the congregation of Temple Israel in Boston. This project, called "Women Whose Lives Span the Century," led to an art exhibit of works based on the interviews; the exhibit took place at the Jewish Community Center in Newton, MA.
Reimer also told the Advocate that JWA was engaged in long-term planning to assemble the resources to fulfill its mission. The article reported that that mission had been recently refined to focus on archival and educational work. In the years since the launch of the Virtual Archive, JWA has been at the forefront of collecting and disseminating that information. Through Women of Valor web exhibits and posters; curriculum materials; oral history projects in Baltimore and Seattle; Women Who Dared events honoring local Jewish activists; an exhibit on Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution; Katrina's Jewish Voices; the Jewesses with Attitude blog; and the This Week in History feature which you are reading now, JWA has led the way in putting Jewish women's history firmly "On the Map."
Source:The Jewish Advocate, 28 August 1997; Jewish Women's Archive, jwa.org.