Established in June of 1920, the Women's Bureau became a sub-department of the U.S. Department of Labor several months before white women would be granted the vote. While there had been calls to establish a federal department concerning the labor involvement of women, social and political issues in the decades prior prevented any long-lasting efforts to recognize and record information about women in the workforce. The entry of the United States in World War I and the resulting demand for women to fill gaps in industry positions culminated in the creation of the Women-In-Industry Service Bureau (WIS) in 1918, as a part of the Department of Labor. Following the end of the war, the WIS became the Women's Bureau and special emphasis was placed on the Bureau not only recording information about women, but also allowing women to be active participants within the Department of Labor in conjunction with their male counterparts. The result was the creation of an organization dedicated to studying female experience in the workforce and the impacts of gender on labor and related topics of concern.
As a land-grant university, Utah State University acknowledges the history of the area it resides on and the role it has in preserving information to make it accessible to a greater populace. Utah State University is also designated as a Regional Depository Library for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) which requires the institution (library) to receive and retain, in perpetuity, at least one copy of all publications by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) [formerly the Government Printing Office] that were made accessible to the FDLP. The goal of the FDLP and, by extension, the Government Information (Gov Info) department at USU is to make government publications accessible to the public. As stewards of historic documentation, there is a responsibility of Gov Info to not only preserve the materials and provide access, but to also cultivate understanding about the documents and why they were produced. As historic publications of GPO under the Labor Department, the Women's Bureau documents at USU were published from 1920 to 1971 and collected contemporarily. The documents are currently accessible in the circulating stacks of the Government Information collection as well as the microfiche collection. A limited number of documents are also available online.
"The Women's Bureau, first established as the Women-In-Industry Service in 1918, and made permanent by congressional act of June 5, 1920 (41 Stat. 987; 29 U. S. C. 11), is charged with formulating standards and policies for promoting the welfare of wage-earning women, improving their working conditions, increasing their efficiency, and advancing their opportunities for profitable employment. It Investigates and publishes reports upon matters pertaining to the welfare of working women." (United States Government Manual 1961)
"The Women's Bureau is concerned with all women at work, or seeking work, and with their training and skills; with women in all fields of employment; with the girl on her first job and the older woman worker; and with women who are both homemakers and wage earners." (United States Government Manual 1991)
"The Women's Bureau is responsible for formulating standards and policies that promote the welfare of wage earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment." (United States Government Manual 1991)
Nicole Hurst has undergraduate degrees in English, with an emphasis in Technical Communications and Rhetoric, and Economics from Utah State University. During her time at USU, she was a student staff member of the Government Information Collection, part of Special Collections & Archives at the Merrill-Cazier Library.
Vanessa Garcia Vazquez has undergraduate degrees in English, with an emphasis in Technical Communications and Rhetoric, and Criminal Justice from Utah State University. During her time at USU, she was a student staff member of the Government Information Collection, part of Special Collections & Archives at the Merrill-Cazier Library.
This guide was created in collaboration with USU's ENGL 5400 course, Technology and Activism. The class, under the direction of Dr. Avery Edenfield, examined the role of ethics and social justice in technology use and facilitated independent research projects centered on investigating those relationships. This research guide was designed to explore the communication and language of the Women's Bureau documents within their historic period as well as their modern implications.
“This library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law. (Title 44 United States Code)”