Valdosta State collection chronicles Equal Rights

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Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 24, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Valdosta State University is chronicling an important chapter in our past, preserving "Equal Rights," a special collection spanning from the mid 1920's through mid 1950's.

The periodical documents women's fight for equality throughout the decade. Now the university is working to make the collection accessible to everyone. Student interns are indexing every single article. Once completed, it will be the only "Equal Rights" collection indexed in the world.

"Equal Rights" allows readers to flip through history through the eyes of real women.

Catherine Oglesby, Professor of History and Coordinator for Women's and Gender Studies, said they give students context of a time, many may see as far from reality and through a different lens.

"To give students an understanding of history, a real connection with history in a way only primary sources can do," Oglesby said.

"Equal Rights" is a weekly publication by the National Women's Party. Oglesby said it was used as an education and advocacy tool for women all around the world, detailing the struggle for equal rights from the 1920's through 1950's.

Oglesby said the documents speak to how women have historically worked together to accomplish goals.

"This shows in fact, not only have women worked together for legal, social and economic equality of women, but they have done that internationally," Oglesby said.

The collection is now at Odum library. Student interns are going through page by page to index each article, chronicling basic information on a newly created database. Accessed on the Valdosta State website, this index creates a unique resource and puts VSU on the map.

Deborah Davis, Director of the VSU Archives and Special Collections said providing a resource with potentially international interest could create new scholarship and research opportunities for the university.

"You can come to us for something nobody else can give you. Because of that, we are important to the national scholarly debate on women's issues during that time period," Davis said.

The collection, giving students a chance to look back for a brighter future.

University staff said they have completed most of the 1920's, but will continue to work until every article is completed.

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