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International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA): Collecting Focus

The IAWA was established in 1985 as a joint program of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. The purpose of the Archive is to document the history of women's contributions to the built environment.

International Archive of Women in Architecture

Behind the Scenes

Perspective view of 6 foot archival shelves with many boxes of different colors and sizes.

IAWA collections in the closed stacks at Special Collections

Perspective view of rolled drawings in manilla boxes on a shelf.

Rolled drawings from the Sigrid Rupp Architectural Collection​

Three ranges of map cases for storing flat architectural drawings. Two architectural models are stored on top

Flat architectural drawings and models in the IAWA​

Collecting Areas

The IAWA collects archival manuscripts and organizational records that document the global contributions of women to the built environment. The IAWA documents the lives and legacies of women who:

  • pioneered the practice, teaching, or study of a design field in their country
  • managed independent firms or architectural practices
  • invented or innovated new materials, processes, and techniques
  • lead or founded organizations, task forces, and committees that promote the interests of women professionals in architecture and design
  • created groundbreaking or challenging exhibits about the experiences of women in design fields
  • advanced awareness of and advocated for women in these fields

Special Collections prioritizes the collection of original, primary source materials that are no longer actively used by an individual or organization. We maintain a small amount of secondary sources (including publications) to accompany the archival collections. We collect materials in multiple formats to reflect the wide range of tools and techniques used by creative professionals in their work. A single collection might be composed of photographs, documents, several artistic media, and electronic records such as email correspondence, office records, or CAD drawings.

An architectural collection commonly includes a range of items that reflect the creator's experiences and accomplishments throughout her career, including architectural drawings, diaries or journals, concept and design sketches, office records, project files and photographs, professional and personal correspondence, portfolios, presentation boards, and other manuscript items. When collections are extensive or contain overlapping documentary materials, archivists work with donors to select a sample of representative items.    

Making a Donation

Collections donated to the IAWA support future scholarship on the contributions of women to the built environment. Prospective donors (including living individuals, representatives of an estate, and organizations) should visit the IAWA website for more information and contact an archivist in Special Collections to begin the process. Before materials are transferred to Special Collections, a few important steps must take place.

Archivists work with donors to learn more about the format and content of the collection as well as how the materials were used and stored. It may be necessary for archivists to review the materials first-hand. Archivists determine potential research value of the collection. This information helps archivists make conscientious long-term decisions about how to manage the collections. It is not necessary to reorganize archival materials before they are transferred; collections should reflect the arrangement in which materials were originally used by the creator. 

Once a donation has been accepted by Special Collections, donors are asked to sign a formal agreement which documents the responsibilities of each party and legally transfers the property to the University Libraries of Virginia Tech. After the collection is formally transferred to the University Libraries, Special Collections staff store, preserve, and manage the materials according to established professional standards. To help researchers discover the collection, the Special Collections department publishes an electronic guide to its materials, most commonly a finding aid. Additionally, staff often digitize selected materials for physical and virtual exhibits.

Contact the Collections Archivist

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Jade Snelling
University Libraries, Virginia Tech
560 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

General Information

Monday-Friday 8am-5pm & By Appointment

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Telephone: 540-231-6308
Information for Visitors

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