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Women's History Archives

Women's History Archives are the repository of a large number of varied sources on the history of women such as:

* Women's private papers, e.g. letters and diaries.
* Plays, poems and stories by women.
* Minutes of meetings, letters and other papers from Icelandic women's associations as well as individuals.
* Newspaper clippings about the history of women, gender research, the struggle for equal rights, interviews with women.

The mission of the archives is to collect, register and preserve records of the history of Icelandic women as well as women in Iceland, past and present. The archives act as a centre for the dissemination of information the history of Icelandic women, helps find sources in this area, and encourages research on women's concerns.  Though most of our material is in Icelandic, we are glad to help interested persons find material in other languages and to help with translation as necessary.

Women's History Archives are located in the National and University Library and are open Mon-Fri. It is recommended to book an appointment via phone or email. If you wish to view private collections, you can order the material at the Women's History Archives and after that, it will be accessible on the 1st floor of the Library during the opening hours of the National Collection.

Women's History Archives
Arngrimsgata 3
107 Reykjavík

Tel. (+354) 525 5779

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Sample of Private Collections kept at the Women's History Archives:

  • Hvítabandið: a women‘s association founded in 1895 and aimed to promote equality and humanitarian affairs. It is still active today.
  • Kvenréttindafélag Íslands: the Icelandic Women‘s Rights Association, founded in 1907 and worked for political equality between men and women, as well as demanding equal access to education, political appointments and the workplace. It is still active today.
  • Kvenfélagasamband Íslands: a women’s association with 154 member groups founded in 1930 and is still active today.
  • Mæðrafélagið: an association for mothers rights, founded in 1936 and active until 1983.
  • Menningar- og friðarsamtök íslenskra kvenna: a peace organization founded in 1951 and is a part of the Women's International Democratic Federation. It is still active today.
  • Rauðsokkahreyfingin: the Red Stockings Group, was a radical women’s liberation movement founded in 1970 and active until 1982. Much of the material was found in 2016 in a garage of one of its member, not having seen the light of day for over 30 years.
  • Kvennafrídagsnefndin: the Women’s Day Off Committee, founded in 1975 and ceased their work in March 1976. Their collection was one of the first Private Collections that was donated to the Women’s History Archives.
  • Kvennalistinn: the Women’s List, a political party founded in Iceland in 1982 and active until 1999. It is the largest collection at the archives. Many of its members have their private papers at the archives as well. This is the largest Private Collection at the Archives.
Women's History Archives and its founders

The Women's History Archives in Iceland was founded by three women in 1975. One of them, Anna Sigurðardóttir, provided the library with accomodation within her own home and was its director for 21 years until her death, at 87, in 1996. The others were Else Mia Einarsdóttir and Svanlaug Baldursdóttir, both librarians.

From the very beginning it had been the dream of the founders and supporters of the Women's History Archives that it would eventually be housed in Iceland's National Library. This dream finally came true in 1996 when the Women's History Archives opened in the National and University Library. The archives have always had the support of Icelandic women's organisations, without which it could not survive.

Please contact the archives for use of images on the website, different copywrites apply.
From the founding of the Archives in 1975
From the opening of the archives in Anna's home 1. january 1975
Women's Day Committee with Anna Sigurðardóttir
The committee for the women's day off giving their private papers to the archives in March 1976. Anna Sigurðardóttir on the left and Björg Einarsdóttir on the right.
Midwifes (ljósmæður) handing over their research of all midwifes in Iceland. Anna Sigurðardóttir sitting.
Anna Sigurðardóttir and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir in 1981
President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (left) visiting the Archive in Anna's (right) home in 1985.

Please contact the archives for use of these images.

*Last edited on 1 March 2018