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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Documenting women's role in journalism history

There's almost an urgency to Sheila Gibbons commentary in Women's E-News yesterday. She's urging female journalists to start saving those notes, documents, scribbles, story drafts, e-mail correspondence, journals and blogs for donation to the National Women and Media Collection at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Why? Because without the documented history of women in journalism, the gender gap in journalism history will persist. It's hard enough to be a women in this business. What a tragedy if there were little to no record of those who toiled away, too busy multitasking or simplifying to document their impact.

I admit I'm no packrat and in my haste to organize and simplify, I'm quite good at tossing materials without a moment's thought. I don't believe for an instant that any future journalists or historians will care about what I said, wrote or documented. But I do believe strongly in the value of history for history's sake. In other words, you never know what source will unlock a story for future generations.

If I needed any evidence of that, I need only look to the biography of Edith Wharton that I'm about two-thirds through today. Wonderful example of how the tiniest details, in one case a note to a beloved niece, express a private detail not found in other works about her.

Hat tip to Romenesko for including in the left rail.

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