The International Archive of Women in Architecture is a joint program of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) and the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. The University Libraries’ Special Collections department manages over 450 collections relating to individual women, firms, exhibitions, and organizations. Professional archivists and student assistants organize and provide access to these historically significant materials.
The IAWA documents the experiences of women in architecture and design. An ideal collection includes original (not previously published) materials that reflect a woman’s creative process, professional networks, and accomplishments. These may include architectural drawings, journals, concept sketches, office records, project files, photographs, professional and personal correspondence, and writing samples.
Donating to the IAWA supports future scholarship on the contributions of women to the built environment. Prospective donors should contact an archivist to discuss the contents of the potential donation and resolves any outstanding issues. A few important steps must take place before materials are delivered to Virginia Tech. Archivists will talk with donors to learn more about the size and format of the collection, how it was used, and how it is currently stored. It is not necessary to organize materials before they are delivered; collections should reflect the order in which they were used by the creator.
Donors will sign a formal agreement to legally transfer the materials to Special Collections and grant nonexclusive rights to the University Libraries, where appropriate. This step allows us to make the materials accessible to researchers. Donors may also make a financial contribution to support processing, storage, and maintenance of IAWA collections. Once the paperwork is completed, archivists will work with the donor to deliver the materials.
After the collection arrives, archivists store, preserve, and manage the materials according to professional standards. This may involve rehousing materials in special containers to prevent future damage. Large drawings and art work are stored in rolled storage boxes or map cases according to their preservation needs. To help researchers discover the unique materials in each collection, archivists publish an electronic guide that inventories the contents, summarizes the historical context of the materials, and details any legal restrictions on access and use. Special Collections often digitizes selected materials for online exhibits or places materials on display.
Gifts to Special Collections are considered charitable donations and under current tax laws deductions for charitable donations exceeding $5000 require a formal appraisal which must be secured by the donor. The value of a gift should be determined prior to its donation and is the responsibility of the donor. According to IRS guidelines, library employees may not appraise gifts to be donated to University Libraries. Pertinent information is available in IRS publications: