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International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA): Find Materials

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

Selections from the IAWA Collections

Perspective drawing of building interior by Sigrid Rupp, in marker

Perspective drawing in marker of building interior, Sigrid Rupp

Fashion sketch of dress, ink on trace paper.

Fashion sketch by Dita Roque-Gourary for school project, n.d.

Black and white photo of Rosaria Piomelli and students

Photograph of M. Rosaria Piomelli, n.d.

Photocopy of newspaper article

Chicago Tribune coverage of 1993 exhibit, "More Than the Sum of Our Body Parts" by CARY

Drawing in pencil on linen, several perspectives of a Japanese house

Perspective drawings of the Abe residence by Kimiko Suzuki, 1963

Black and white photograph of several people in a crowd, outdoors

Lecture by Hilde Westrom, n.d.

Photograph from top down of open journal. On left is an ink sketch of a garden through two doors. On the right is a handwritten diary entry.

Travel journal of Sigrid Rupp in New Orleans, 1997

Exploring IAWA Materials

Looking for something specific? This section of the guide will explain the different kinds of resources we maintain in the IAWA and help you find what you need.

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Manuscript collections

What are they?

Manuscript collections consist of unpublished primary sources. Primary sources offer first-hand accounts of events and experiences whether they are public or private. They offer direct evidence or first-hand testimony of a topic under investigation or of a specific time and place. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Primary sources are often created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. Learn more about primary sources in the Guide to Special Collections and University Archives: A Basic Introduction.

What kinds of primary sources might you find in IAWA manuscript collections?

Primary sources are identified by their content, regardless of format. A document, for example, in its original format, on microfilm, published, or in a digital format is a primary source if the content is properly characterized as such. They need not be written, but may be recorded as audio, video, or on film, for example. Common formats and material types in IAWA collections include diaries, journals, letters, correspondence, family papers, scrapbooks, business records, legal documents, architectural drawings, oral histories, photographs, and maps.

More about manuscript materials and collections:

Manuscript collections may be large or small. They may consist of a single document or 300 boxes (or more) of material. The contents of collections are described in finding aids, descriptive documents that are written by archivists and available online. Finding aids provide a biographical and historical context for the collection, an inventory of the contents, and important details about how to find and access the physical materials.

Manuscript materials are grouped into collections that are named according to the persons or organizations responsible for creating or assembling the materials. Examples include the L. Jane Hastings Architectural Collection, 1951-1998 and the Association for Women in Architecture Records, 1928-1992. Collections are also identified by a unique identifier. In this repository, this identifier follows the format of Ms2001-019, where Ms stands for Manuscript, the next set of digits is the year the collection was processed, and the last three digits represent the number of the collection for that particular year. When requesting to see a specific collection, it is useful, but not necessary, to know both the identifier and the name of the collection.

How to find manuscript collections:

Rare Books and Publications

Special Collections at Virginia Tech has more than 300 rare books and published manuscripts written by or about women working in the built environment. Many of these authors have archival collections in the IAWA, including Anna Sokolina, Brinda Somaya, Cristina Grau Garcia, Carmen Espegel Alonso, Despina Stratigakos, Inge Horton, and Susana Torre.

IAWA related publications include memoirs and autobiographies, biographies and encyclopedias, monographs about women architects, exhibition catalogs, trade journals, bound magazines and scholarly journals, oral history transcripts, and more. 

Publications related to a specific manuscript collection are identified in the collection's finding aid (and often in the Guide to IAWA Collections on the website). To browse all cataloged publications, visit Addison, the University Libraries Catalog.

Oral histories

The IAWA is in the pilot phase of a project to launch an oral history program that further documents women and their contributions to the built environment. The goal of the IAWA oral history project is to serve the mission of the archives and give greater depth and texture to the documentation we’ve amassed on women designers and other architectural practitioners, architectural historians, journalists, planners, and educators. Oral histories can provide a more personal, testimonial form of documentation otherwise missing from the paper-based records we already have on hand. Beyond adding informational value, oral histories have the potential to add visibility to our collections. More information will become available as the project develops and individual interviews are processed.

More general resources related to oral history can be found here.

Digital objects and exhibits

Selected items from the IAWA manuscript collections have been scanned or digitized, often at the request of researchers. Digital objects and exhibits created by Special Collections can be found in two locations:

  • The IAWA Digital Library offers high-quality scans from 20 different IAWA collections, with more collections being added over time. Visitors can view selections from a single collection or browse the visual archive by architect, format, medium, and structure type.
  • The Virginia Tech University Libraries ImageBase Database, one of the world's first digital libraries. To obtain high resolution versions of IAWA scans in ImageBase, please contact Special Collections and include the image record URN (or unique record number).

Please contact Special Collections with any questions about copyright status and use, or to receive permission to publish or reproduce these images for commercial purposes.

Reference files

In addition to full manuscript collections, the IAWA includes hundreds of reference files compiled by the Board of Advisors and Special Collections staff. The finding aid for the IAWA Small Collections (1907-2015) offers a comprehensive guide to the IAWA reference files. The collection consists primarily of biographical materials for women architects, architectural historians, and designers including curriculum vitas, firm brochures, exhibit notices, photographs, and publications. Drawings, sketches, course notes, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to architectural collections are also present.

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

Find us online!

IAWA Digital Library:
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Contact Special Collections:
Telephone: 540-231-6308
Information for Visitors

Visit the general Special Collections Guide

Rare books in Special Collections

Photograph of several books lying on a table.

Selection of IAWA books on display for the 18th Congress of the International Union of Women Architects, July 2015.

Selections from the IAWA Collections

Color photograph of National Wrestling Palace in Ulaan-Baatar in Mongolia. Front view.

National Wrestling Palace in Ulaan-Baatar, Mongolia by Danzansharavyn Tsevelma

Beaux Art detail drawing of a door by Lilia Skala, Austria, c. 1930s.

Detail drawing in charcoal by Lilia Skala, Austrian architect