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The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century saw a surge in organizations and clubs founded by and for Black women to uplift Black communities. Founded in 2020, the Black Women’s Organizing Archive (BWOA), under founding faculty director, Shirley Moody-Turner, brings together the scattered papers and collections of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Black women organizers. Through web-published directories, data visualizations, and digital maps, BWOA locates and centers Black women’s archival materials that too often have been obscured or subsumed under the collections of Black male intellectuals or white abolitionists and reformers. BWOA supports the critical, pedagogical, and creative engagement of broader publics with the papers and collections of clubwomen like Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, recognizing their intellectual and activist contributions to Black women’s movements for equal rights and full citizenship. Our work fosters collaborative partnerships with scholars, student leaders, librarians, archivists, community members, digital humanities specialists, artists, and poets.


BWOA is, in part, a culmination of the work begun by the Anna Julia Cooper Digital Project (2017-2019) and Douglass Day –Transcribe Cooper (2020). In 2017, the Anna Julia Cooper Digital Project partnered with the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) at Howard University to digitize the Anna Julia Cooper Collection held at MSRC. In 2020, we partnered with Douglass Day to transcribe the newly digitized collection. In 2020 and 2021, BWOA, joined its sister projects, Colored Convention Project and Douglass Day, to help bring together archivists from across the US and Canada to support the digitization of Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s papers at the MSRC and Archives Ontario, some of which were later transcribed during Douglass Day 2023. BWOA team members served as liaisons for the 2021 Douglass Day team, which partnered with the Library of Congress’s By the People Project to transcribe their Mary Church Terrell Papers. In 2025, BWOA will work with the Douglass Day team in celebration of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s 200th anniversary on the digitization and transcription of Harper’s records and materials. 

Join us at as we continue building partnerships to locate, digitize, transcribe, and expand access to the writings and work of these early Black women organizers. Visit our Featured Women pages to learn more about our ongoing projects and resources and our Events page to learn more about our upcoming events and programs.