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Bringing together the scattered archives of 19th and early 20th century Black women’s organizing


Cooper was a celebrated educator, civil rights activist, and prolific writer most known for A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South.


Harper was an antislavery activist, suffragist, educator, writer, poet, lecturer, and the founding vice president of the National Association of Colored Women.


Shadd Cary was an antislavery activist, educator, and lawyer as well as a pioneering newspaper editor, journalist, and publisher of The Provincial Freeman.


Terrell was a renowned speaker, educator, civil rights and women’s rights activist, and founding president of the National Association of Colored Women.

The Black Women’s Organizing Archive (BWOA) brings together the scattered archives of 19th and early 20th century Black women intellectuals, organizers, and activists. BWOA moves Black women unapologetically to the forefront of recovery and Black digital history projects to highlight Black women’s often lost, erased, or forgotten contributions to our intellectual histories and social movements. Comprised of students, faculty, and librarians based at the Center for Black Digital Research/#DigBlk, at Penn State University, BWOA works in collaborative partnerships with community arts organizations, academic institutions, and repositories throughout the US, Canada and abroad to locate, digitize, transcribe, and share the collections and papers of Black women organizers, activists, and intellectuals. 


Join us at to find out more about the extraordinary women who led some of the most important movements in the early struggles for Black civil and political rights. Here you will find links to digital collections with primary materials about the featured women of BWOA, as well as related research, scholarship, teaching materials, upcoming events, and opportunities for community engagement. We are constantly building and growing the site, so check back often for new materials, exhibits, and resources. Learn more at our About page.

Upcoming Events

Digitize Black Women’s Records Day

Tuesday, March 26 • Freeman Auditorium and Live Stream

Join us as we celebrate innovative ways to engage Black women’s activist archives with Meta DuEwa Jones, DaMaris B. Hill, Sharia Benn, Janel Moore-Almond, and Jennifer Morris.

Welcome to Mapping BWOA!

This project offers a visual representation of the scattered nature of Black women’s archival materials and locates repositories dispersed throughout North America for each of our featured women.

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