The need to win the space for women’s and gender history has been present for a long time in our milleu. The well-known concept No documents – no history which represented the driving force for the establishment of the first women’s history archives, and subsequently specialized libraries and museums in Europe and in the world since the early 1930s, is still significant in Serbia. Research experience has taught us that once we define a research subject or a noteworthy source, and when we ask the right question in order to analyze them, these sources become visible and a part of our historical memory.
The Women’s and Gender History Portal is the result of perennial reflections and discussions, as well as the occasional (but temporary) withdrawal from that idea, by a small group of colleagues interested in this neglected field of history. Each of us who ventured into researching women’s history has encountered a lack of documents, unsystematic, non-existent or destroyed archive funds, even when it comes to women’s organizations and associations which had a long tradition in Serbia and Yugoslavia in the 19th and 20th centuries. On the other hand, a few historians who have analyzed the past of men and women based on feminist theories and using primarily the analytical category of Gender, have often in the titles or subheadings of their papers avoided emphasizing a categorical apparatus, in order to adjust to the expectations of the academic environment.
Therefore, the main goal of our Portal is to collect, preserve and make available miscellaneous historical materials of different origin: archival records (by agreement with the competent institution), articles in magazines and publications of special, discursive importance for gender history, periodicals, publications and photographs. These materials represent sources for the legal, economic and political status of women in the 19th and 20th centuries, ideas and stereotypes about gender roles, female education, labor, the feminist movement, participation in international women’s organizations, women’s magazines, marriage and family.
Portal users will be able to gain insight in the main theoretical texts that have defined women’s and gender history, as well as the history of feminism as a discipline of the last few decades. In addition, we wish to share the latest results in these fields of research in our country (of course, in accordance with copyright and publishing agreements), because we believe this is the right way to establish and build regional and international cooperation.
Digitization as a way of presenting historical sources, papers and translations was never in question due to all institutional circumstances. A great hope remains that competent institutions will again be supportive and that in potential further joint projects we shall make visible and accessible small islands of materials in the oceans of historical sources. Perhaps in that way, we may create whole series and collections of digitized sources that could be a model in other fields of history and historiography.