Rutgers libraries collect memorabilia from Women's March
Rutgers University Libraries look to add and archive the most recent Women's March — including those taking place in New York City and New Jersey this past Saturday — in order to document these notable protests.
One year ago, members of the Rutgers Special Collections and University Archive collected 60 signs and items used in Women’s marches in New York City and Washington, D.C., said Stephanie Crawford, an archivist with the University Libraries.
This weekend the group continued its work documenting and collecting objects from the march, she said.
“We collect New Jersey-based history, we collect women’s history and we collect grassroots activism items in general, so this kind of fit right in with our collecting strategies,” Crawford said.
She said the idea spawned when her and her colleagues attended the Women’s March last year. More than 2 million people across the world supported the movement in 2017 — protesting the first full day of President Donald J. Trump’s time in office, .
Crawford said her plans changed, as she realized that movements like the Women’s March on Washington Archives Project exist to document the oral histories of these events. She brought the idea to Rutgers, with a focus on collecting signs, who gave her the green light to begin the project.
While the official numbers are not in for this year’s march, Crawford said the project has garnered more positive support through interested donors.
“When I attended the marches, people were a little confused when I would go up to them and ask them for their signs, so I would hand out business cards, and then they would send me their signs later or they would choose not to,” she said.
Crawford said she found a lot of signs by digging through the garbage and collecting those that people left behind.
People brought a wide array of signs to the march, but she wanted to collect signs that represented the diversity of women there — in addition to finding some visually appealing and well-made pieces.
Marchers came from different backgrounds and demographics, and she said that having accurate representation for all the women present is important.
The signs are currently hosted in the library archives, Crawford said. They are available for students and the public to see and use, and there are plans to host everything online in the future.
She said that as part of the Women’s March on Washington Archive Project, everything will eventually move online where people can access oral histories, photographs taken at the marches and photographs of the signs there.
The Women’s March on Washington Archives Project is an endeavor dedicated to preserving the importance of the January 2017 Women’s March and its various “sister” marches, according to their Facebook page.
“I hope that people can come and recognize that the march just wasn’t about one viewpoint, one kind of issue, there was a multitude of voices because women are not just one demographic,” Crawford said. “We are complicated and diverse and contradictory, and I think that our collection can highlight that.”