The Women Artists Archive is a collection of about 8,000 slides of work by 1,000 woman artists along with 5 file cabinets of related ephemera comprising news clippings, exhibit announcements and correspondence, covering the span of history from the middle ages to the present, although the majority of the work is from the 20th century. There are also materials about the Women's art movement and women's and minority art organizations of the 1970's. The Archive was compiled by J.J. Wilson and Karen Petersen in the process of writing a book on women artists which was published in 1976 by Harper Colophon Books. J.J. Wilson was then a professor in the English department at Sonoma State University, and is now professor emerita. Karen Petersen, a former student of Prof. Wilson, was Novato High School librarian at the time and is currently the library director for Santa Rosa Junior College. Their book, entitled Women Artists: Recognition and Reappraisal from the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, sold over 30,000 copies and was redistributed by the The Women's Press in London. 8 sets of slides were distributed by the original publishers in conjunction with the book and were purchased by many colleges and universities. Wilson and Petersen donated their materials to the Sonoma State University Special Collections and they were made available to the public.
From 1992 to 1994, a graduate student at the Academy of Art College named Robin Masi worked as an intern under J.J. Wilson and then library director Susan Harris to expand the archive to include contemporary artists, create an electronic database of its holdings, and digitize the slides. Druing the last few years, in response to new guidelines for special collections, the library's policy changed, and the archive was no longer accessible to the public. The SSU art department acquired the Women Artists Archive in 2008. It is now in temporary quarters in the Art Department Visual Resources collection. While the materials are no longer available for public distribution, they may be viewed in the art department by appointment with the curator and the slides may be used on campus for presentation and study purposes. We are planning for a more permanent and accessible home for the archives, and the digital images of the slides will become part of our planned campus-wide digital image delivery service.