Menu Close

Why the FCA-WA Matters

As the first of its kind, the Feminist Community Archive of Washington is a student-led feminist archive that documents the work of local organizations. The archive was created by Dr. Julie Shayne and librarians Denise Hattwig and Dave Ellenwood; it is maintained by the undergraduate students at the University of Washington Bothell.  To learn more about the creation and development of the archive, click here.

As an archive that represents marginalized communities and minoritized voices, the impact of documenting these histories is far-reaching. Feminist theory highlights the importance of listening and learning from those who have been silenced and this open-access archive preserves and magnifies the voices, experiences, and lives of those seeking social justice in their communities.

The students involved in the documentation experience first-hand what it means to the organizations and to the communities the archive serves. Below are the students’ testimonies:

“Archiving feminist history is vital in capturing the stories of underrepresented voices and shining a light on the courageous and brave spirits who dared to speak out and advocate themselves. These stories are testaments to the power of taking a stand and pushing for change in the face of adversity. Stories like the one in the archive are inspirational and so impactful to those who may not feel they can make a difference or take a stand. They can look to them for a sense of connection and feel seen and validated in their struggle and take comfort knowing their efforts matter in their quest for justice.”

Taylor Hiner (Media & Communication Studies,  2017) 

“Archiving feminist history is important because these archives are used as tools to help us unlearn the harmful patriarchal and capitalistic beliefs we’ve inherited and internalized from our ancestors; the same beliefs perpetuating systemic racism, sexism, poverty, and climate change. It’s in feminist archives where the battle against capitalism and patriarchy is told; they are places that reveal the hidden but universal truths about the intersectionality of class, power, privilege, sex, race, and gender in our society. The truths within feminist archives are important to policy makers because they tell the stories and policy demands of hidden and underserved constituents that must be centered in the policy debate if social and environmental equity is our goal. Policy makers also use feminist archives to identify systemic patterns of injustice throughout time to gain a comprehensive understanding of contemporary social and environmental issues. Feminist archives serve as counter archives because they share how our current established systems are flawed and unjust; points of view that aren’t archived elsewhere because they challenge the oppressive power structures’ status-quo. Feminist archives are also sources of consciousness-raising and inspiration where people find comfort in learning how badass feminists defend human rights and advocate for the protection of Mother Earth.”

Phoenix Horn (Law, Economics, and Public Policy, 2020) 

“I participated in the archival project in Dr. Shayne’s Histories and Movements of Gender and Sexuality class in Winter, 2019. My group worked with WHEEL-Women’s Housing Equality and Enhancement League. Organizations like WHEEL have shaped how activist work is done, how community organizing happens, and how organizations self-govern, on their own terms. They have laid the foundation, doing valuable, unpaid labor that provides all those who come after them the ability to create their own change, in their own time. They have done this work with no template, learning as they are building. The Feminist Community Archive of Washington is a space where anyone can see the spectrum, the richness, and diversity of critical feminist work being done in our state. It is important that WHEEL, and organizations like them, are not just memorialized but also provided a space for knowledge sharing, creating opportunities for others to learn from their work. Why is this work important? Organizations like WHEEL have survived so many changes in the city, in the world really, and there needs to be a place we can honor that work, learn from it, and share it so with people to see/hear/read for years to come.”

Anny Smith (Health Studies, 2019)

“As researchers and academics, understanding history is part of how we shape opinions, create knowledge and add to the pool of meaning-making. This concept is also relevant in the feminist field. Students can contribute to this field through research and archive their findings to be accessible to others. Through record-keeping of all that has been discovered, other researchers and students can further develop an area of interest and investigate a particular ideology. It is critical to acknowledge that aside from creating meaning, feminist archives could contribute to social change, movements, and awareness by underlining inequality, inequity, and marginalization. Feminist Achieves creates a space to gather students’ work and an opportunity to track how a specific topic has evolved through the years. It is an invaluable resource for students and researchers to access fascinating information to study.”  

Marjan Atash (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, 2018) 

The Feminist Community Archive of Washington has made a lasting impression on both the students who work on it and the organizations it serves. As a permanent and open home for the histories of groups and individuals working to support social justice for women, femmes, gender-nonconforming folks, and their allies — the archive is a place where the silenced speak and truth is told. 

Written by Elisabeth M. Schnebele

Edited by Jesse Blaire

Skip to content