This site provides more than 1,000 images associated with the history of women professional architects in Europe and the United States. The material is arranged into 31 subfolios divided by subject, such as book covers or logos or by individual architect. The larger sub-folios are further subdivided by subject. Each subfolder includes between several and several hundred enlargeable thumbnail-sized images accompanied by information on title and creator. This site is a section of Virginia Tech’s larger digitized collections. It can be searched either individually or as part of the larger collection.
The home page provides access to a guide to the collection and a biographical database. The Guide provides a short (400-word) introduction and list of highlights in the collection, and an extensive (16,000-word) alphabetized directory which includes not only individuals but also institutions covered by the archive. The site also includes a searchable biographical database. The digitized images have been selected from a much larger print archive, which includes material relating to women architects, landscape architects, designers, architectural historians and critics, and urban planners. Thus, site users should be aware that these facilities cover the larger non-digitized archive as well as the digitized images.
This site makes an important contribution to the history of women in architecture by making available images from a variety of sources. These include not only images of the buildings constructed by women architects, but also portraits and photographs of women architects in practice, publications relating to their work and their architectural drawings, tools, and models. The individual collections vary substantially in size, the largest being the Beverley Willis collection of more than 600 images. Willis, an American artist and architect who worked primarily in San Francisco between 1960 and 1990, produced major architectural works and is noted for the application of computers to architectural design. While the site is chiefly useful to those with a particular interest in architectural history, it also has uses for those with social-history interests, in particular in tracing the history of women in professional and artistic occupations.
There are significant disadvantages in the site that make it less useful for those without a special interest in, or knowledge of, architectural history. The site assumes a degree of specialist knowledge that makes it less useful for the general teaching of world history than for students with a specific knowledge of architectural history. The chief problem is a general lack of information on the images beyond noting the title and creator. Even the date of a drawing or photograph, for example, is frequently not given. Those using the site should take advantage of the biographical directory, which gives brief notes on the women architects featured. This is available through the home page but is not directly linked to the specific images, which is a design disadvantage. The information in the biographical directory is also sparse at times. A general reference tool useful for those accessing this site is Architecture and Women: A Bibliography Documenting Women Architects, Landscape Architects, Designers, Architectural Critics and Writers, and Women in Related Fields Working in the United States.1
1 Lamia Doumato, Architecture and Women: A Bibliography Documenting Women Architects, Landscape Architects, Designers, Architectural Critics and Writers, and Women in Related Fields Working in the United States (New York: Garland Pub., 1988).