History has never been kind to anyone, but the writer. People are excluded and forgotten. Unidentified inspects the University of Wisconsin’s Digital Collections and Wisconsin’s extensive history of scientific contributions and the people who made them. Throughout the archive, a disproportionate amount of men are identified and named, both those who have made discoveries and ordinary scientists, yet women are hardly named. Moreover, all the women found in the archive are white, save for exactly one woman of color.
Unidentified is a show curated by the Wisconsin Union Art Committee that highlights the overlooked and under-credited women whose names are lost in the annals of history. This exhibition is not so much a critique on the hardworking individuals who work for the University of Wisconsin’s Digital Collections today. Rather, Unidentified investigates and questions the nature of archiving: who records information, who is recorded, and how are they recorded. The Art Committee presents these photos as an active reflection upon who is saved and documented when archival action is taken and as an invitation ask who is considered important or worthy of remembering.
In the gallery, the space between the two columns is dedicated to unnamed women and points towards the systemic anonymity and neglect that occurred when these individuals were cataloged into the archive. WUD Art committee members will update the space regularly with more photos of unidentified women in science from the Digital Archive over the duration of the exhibition.
UW Digital Collections can be found at https://uwdc.library.wisc.edu/