The Worcester Women’s Oral History Project aims to record, collect, and share the personal and historical memories of women throughout the broader Worcester community.
The project focuses on the four areas that characterized the spirit of the First National Woman’s Rights Convention held in Worcester in 1850: Work, Education, Health, and Politics. These four themes still resonate strongly with today’s Central Massachusetts women, who continue to make history in their everyday lives.
The Project is honored to have the Schlesinger Library as the repository for its oral histories. The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America is on the campus of Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA and maintains collections relating to a wide range of American women's activities. It provides rich material for researchers and historians from around the world.
“Work” is a value-laden term that has changed drastically over time, particularly in relation to women’s daily lives. Despite a legacy of opinions to the contrary, WWHP views women’s work as inherently valuable, whether taking place in the formal structure of paid employment or the private realm of home and family. We seek to understand each woman’s work on her own terms in her own words.
We are interested in understanding how women and girls in Worcester have experienced learning, both through formal institutions and through life experiences and relationships. This theme includes women and girls’ experiences within, and access to, schools and higher education, as well as other avenues to knowledge and skills.
This topic focuses on the ways women negotiate their physical and emotional well-being both in their personal and family lives and in relation to the public institutions that make up our health care system. It seeks to learn about how women view, care for, and project their bodies and minds introspectively and in relation to the outside world.
In addition to a traditional focus on the public realm of governance and power structures, this theme should also reflect a feminist understanding of “the personal as political.” We are interested in women’s opinions, values, and activities as they relate to a broad sphere of social relations.
"The Schlesinger Library is honored to be chosen as the repository for the documentation of the remarkable Worcester Women’s Oral History Project. These interviews with 150+ Worcester women cover broad topics of work, education, health, politics and community involvement, and family and help to tell a piece of the story of the history of women in America, which is the Library’s mission. An Auschwitz survivor, a minister born in Nigeria, a business owner, a homemaker, a nun, a professor, an activist, these and all of the other voices included in the project tell warm and funny, frightening and bitter stories of the detail of individual women’s lives. Together they help to tell the story of post-World War II America." -Kathryn Allamong Jacob