Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists Collection Development Policy

Statement of purpose of the institution and/or collection 

The Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists works to document, preserve, and make available to researchers postwar American women’s art history. Our collections include individual artists’ papers, the records of women artists’ organizations, and various registries of women artists.  

Miriam Schapiro (1923–2015) was a feminist, an artist, an educator, and a collector of objects. She is well known for being one of the mothers of feminist art. The Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists was founded in 2006 by the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art (later the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities) in partnership with the Rutgers University Libraries. The Rutgers University Libraries had, however, long before then begun collecting the personal papers of women artists and women's art organizations active in the United States in the second-half of the twentieth century. Miriam Schapiro donated her own papers to the archives in 2004, and the women artists’ collections were renamed in her honor two years later. The collection supports the research and informational needs of Rutgers University and the people of New Jersey, as well as those of the broader communities of international scholars and researchers.  

Types of programs supported by the collection 

  • Curriculum 
  • Research 
  • Exhibits 
  • Community outreach 

Clientele served by the collection 

University community, including undergraduate and graduate students, administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families; scholars in disciplines including Art History, Visual Arts, and Women’s Studies; museum curators and other professionals planning exhibitions and programs; members of the general public with a research need for the manuscripts we hold.    

Priorities and limitations of the collection 

Present identified strengths  

  • The Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists includes over 30 individual collections of women artists and women artists’ organizations. For more information about individual collections, see https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/scua/women-artists The archives’ strength lies in its documentation of the feminist art movement of the 1970s. Women artists from New Jersey and associated with Rutgers University’s Douglass College are also well represented. 

Present identified weaknesses 

We are seeking to strengthen are holdings of the papers of diverse women artists and artists’ groups, particularly women artists of color. 

Desired level of collection to meet program needs and collecting guidelines 


Geographic areas collected 

United States with a special focus on New Jersey and women artists associated with Rutgers University. 

Chronological periods collected 

1945 to the present with an emphasis on 1970 to the present.  

Subject areas collected  

Art history, visual arts, photography, architecture, political science, sociology. 

Languages collected 

English language materials extensively.   

Forms of materials collected  

We collect various types of material including but not limited to: traditional paper archives, ephemera, printed materials, photographic/audio/visual media, and artifacts. However, given the limits of space and resources, all collecting must be selective.  

Electronic records have become a particular interest with the increasing number of born-digital records created by women artists.  


We do not collect works of art, although works on paper included in manuscript collections will be retained.  

We do not collect books on women artists. Occasionally, books included in gift collections are retained and cataloged in other library collections, such as the Sinclair New Jersey Collection and Rare Book Collection, or are offered to the Douglass Library or Art Library. Books that have substantially drawn on material from the Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists are placed in the Special Collections Reference Collection if space allows. 

The Special Collections and University Archives will not accept materials without legal transfer of title through a deed of gift, transfer of records form, or other official acknowledgement.  

We do not accept gifts that pose major preservation hazards (e.g., mold, insect infestation, dampness, etc.); that come with special conditions and constraints it cannot honor; or require extensive processing or treatment. 

The following types of records do not typically merit permanent retention in the manuscript collections:  

  • routine bills (i.e., utility bills), 

  • employee timesheets, 

  • payroll records, 

  • duplicate material beyond our standard maximums, 

  • blank forms and unused printed materials such as letterhead, 

  • student records subject to FERPA, and  

  • patient records subject to HIPAA 


The Rutgers University Libraries are committed to providing open access to its holdings in accordance with guidelines set forth by the American Libraries Association and the Society of American Archivists.  Parts of collections may be restricted for reasons of confidentiality. The Special Collections and University Archives will not accept materials that are closed to the public in perpetuity. All restricted material will be designated with an opening date prior to the donation/transfer acceptance. Unprocessed collections may be inaccessible.  

Cooperative Agreements 

Prints and other art works by women artists are collectively selectively by the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers. The Zimmerli Museum is the repository for works of art by members of the National Association of Women Artists, the records of which are part of the Miriam Schapiro Archives. Books on women and art are collected selectively by the Art Library. Scholarly works in the area of women, gender, and sexuality studies are collected by the Douglass Library.  

Resource Sharing 

SC/UA does not lend archival materials. The curator of the Miriam Schapiro Archives will consider requests to photocopy, or scan materials needed by other institutions subject to the condition of the materials, and the photoduplication policy of SC/UA. 

Deaccessioning Policy 

Items in the Miriam Schapiro Archives are not deaccessioned apart from duplicates and routine material that does not fit our collecting policy described above. However, books that might be included within a larger donation but do not fit our collecting criteria may be rejected and disposed of as described in our deed of gift. It is our hope that we could provide a suitable home for materials given into our possession but inappropriate for our collection.  

Procedures for Reviewing the Policy and its Implementation 

This policy will be reviewed, evaluated, and changed as necessary to meet the goals of the university and the New Brunswick Libraries. The Libraries annual report will be used as a source of information for this review, with additional information taken from user surveys, faculty interviews, departmental committee meetings, and other similar data compiled by the curator.