The Collections

The documents of The Women's History Archives are mostly open to the public to view.

The Women's History Archives preserves over 300 private collections. Most of them are open and without any access restrictions. An overview of the contents of most of them can be viewed on this website, full list in Icelandic here.

You can request documents in advance by telephone and email, or ask directly at the office of The Women's History Archives. Once the documents have been requested they can be accessed at the desk of the Icelandic National Collection, located on the first floor of National Library Main Building (Þjóðarbókhlaða). Documents can only be used in the reading room of the Icelandic National Collection. Their opening hours are advertised here.

Guests must be careful around the documents. Pens are not allowed in the reading room and it is strictly forbidden to change the original documents or mark them in any way, which includes adding post-it notes and stickers. The documents should not be rearranged from their original order in the box. When guests need to look at more than one box of documents, only one of them should be open at a time, to prevent confusion. If an archive is open to the public, it‘s usually possible to photograph the documents without flash, but please ask permission first.

Sample of private collections from private associations and groups 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. It 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 woman’s liberation movement founded in 1970 and active until 1982.
  • Kvennafrídagsnefndin: the Women’s Day Off Committee, founded in 1975. Their collection was one of the first donated to the Women’s History Archives.
  • Kvennalistinn: the Women’s List, a political party founded in Iceland in 1983 and active until 1999. It is the largest collection at the Archives. Many of its members have donated their private collection to the Archives as well.