The Collection of Women’s Estates was founded in 1990 by Edith Saurer. It has been headed by Christa Hämmerle (co-) since 2003 and has been firmly anchored at the Institute for the History of the University of Vienna since 2013. The support has been in the hands of Li Gerhalter since 2000. The aim is to collect, systematically organize, archive and make available auto / biographical records of women, couples, children and relatives, friends of women, and make them accessible for scientific use.
Since its founding, the Sammlung Frauennachlässe has established itself as an open memory store with a particular focus on ego-documents from the First world War. Following the course of the war on the home-fronts, a kaleidoscope of different war experiences and interpretations were created. 100 years later, insights into fluctuating patriotism and protest, hope and despair, hunger, deprivation, violence and grief are presented online depicting the catastrophe affecting all areas of life.
There are currently 429 individuals or accounts. The holdings are sometimes very extensive and have different compositions. They can contain a wide variety of documents such as diaries, calendars, household books, correspondence, official documents or exercise books, as well as photographs – down to small souvenirs. The focus in terms of time lies between the late 19th and the late 20th centuries. The spatial focus is on the area of today’s Austria, but is not limited to it. Numerous documents were written, for example, in the crown lands of the former double monarchy; individual stocks even span continents. Several estates come from Germany, a large inventory comes from the USA and Australia, another contains correspondence from the Theresienstadt / Terezín concentration camp.
The idea for a collection of women’s estates came from practical experience. The initiative took place in the search for sources for the exhibition “Who votes, wins? 70 years of women’s right to vote” in 1989 (PDF, 120 KB) . As in many other women’s research projects, the often difficult access to documents on everyday life and living conditions of women became evident. A corresponding call in the magazine “Vor-Magazin” led to contact with the family of the Viennese teacher, school board member and women’s rights activist Mathilde Hanzel-Hübner, who left numerous personal documents and texts created in the context of their political activities in the women’s and peace movement would have. The takeover of this extensive inventory was the reason for the foundation of the women’s estate collection in 1990.
This laid the first foundation for a collection that currently comprises more than 400 different, in some cases very extensive, legacies, and is constantly being expanded. In the meantime it has been confirmed that relevant sources are available for the history of women and gender and that it is also in the interest of the descendants if these materials are documented in a central location, i.e. kept and made available for research.
Telephone: +43 1 4277 40812 // +43 1 4277 40819
Address: Sammlung Frauennachlässe, c/o Institut für Geschichte der University of Vienna, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Vienna