WATER in Good Company in Perpetuity

by Mary E. Hunt

It was a bit of a bus driver’s holiday, but Diann Neu, Mimi Marchev, Min Hunt-
Neu, and Mary E. Hunt paid a visit to WATER’s papers in the Sophia Smith Collection
at Smith College in Northampton, MA, in August of 2011 (http://libraries.smith.edu/ssc).
Director Sherrill Redmon welcomed the small delegation and showed us the remarkable
materials that make up one of the premier places to learn about women’s history.

We learned what is in the collection, dipping down into the stacks where full runs
of some women’s periodicals are kept carefully. From suffrage papers to Ms. Magazine,
from photos and videos to campaign buttons, the collection is a treasure trove of
documents and memorabilia that will instruct generations to come about women’s lives
over the centuries. Our papers include early WATER program materials, Mary and
Diann’s own papers, pictures and letters from the Alliance, videos of programs and the
like. It all remains to be processed so as to be useful to future scholars, but it is important
feminist stewardship to begin the process by opening a record and sending early

WATER is in the good company of such colleagues as philosopher Mary Daly,
theologian Judith Plaskow, and Smith political scientist Martha Ackelsberg. We all join
feminist activists Gloria Steinem and Molly Yard, birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger,
health reformer Byllye Avery, author Isabel Miller, and many others. Papers from
leading women’s organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the
National Board of the YWCA, and the National Congress of Neighborhood Women are
part of the collection.

We will continue to send materials to Smith so that future researchers will be able
to piece together just how this amazing organization called WATER began, took shape,
and thrived. We highly recommend that other organizations and our dear colleagues
follow our lead by attending to their own papers. Donations to the Sophia Smith
Collection—for general use or for a particular collection like ours—are more than
welcome as it is expensive to process history. Contact them at SCC 413 585-2970 or ssc-