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Gosteli-Stiftung - Archiv zur Geschichte der schweizerischen Frauenbewegung

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The Gosteli Foundation was established in 1982 with the intention of being used to provide independent sponsorship for the archives documenting the history of the feminist movement in Switzerland. The idea is based on the fact that the big women's associations, which were founded at the end 

of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, and the pioneers of the feminist movement possess a large amount of archive material. The plan to build up archives in Worblaufen was already a discussion point in 1982 between the benefactress and Professor Beatrix Mesmer from the Historical Institute of the University of Berne, where research into the history of the feminist movement began. It rapidly became clear that the most important records were widely scattered, difficult to access and unclassified. With the 1982 decision to devote its own means to building and maintaining these archives on the history of the feminist movement in Switzerland, the Foundation was doing nothing new. It is on record that the big women's associations had already planned a public library, an information centre and archives together in the 60s, and had already recognised the great importance of an undertaking of this kind for their work. The Union of Swiss Women's Associations (now Alliance F) already had a professionally catalogued library and pamphlet collection at this point. The idea was all set but could not be realised for financial reasons. The idea of these perspicacious women pioneer is what the Gosteli Foundation has been trying to put into practice for the last 25 years. The arc

hive has been collecting and classifying records from women's organisations, women's associations and individual women who have played an important part in business, education, culture, society and family for 30 years. It is in order to enhance the visibility of these womens' contributions in the public eye that the Foundation has, in the last few years, supported the publication of the edition of a primary source text. It also runs a detailed historical library with a large collection of pamphlets, originally founded by the Union 

of Swiss Women's Organisations. The use of the archives and library is not restricted to scientific research but is accessible at no cost to all interested organisations and private persons, with advance notification. We have collected over e00 records, approximately half each from organisations of local and international importance and from private parties. The archives also include:

  • Magazines of the feminist movement
  • Pamphlets on feminist issues
  • Material on women's professions, women in work, suffrage, women's congresses and women's exhibitions
  • Theses, degree theses, licentiates and term papers
  • Magazine collections
  • Newspaper articles
  • Audio and video material
  • Collections of biographies of both Swiss and foreign women
The Gosteli foundation is listed on the Swiss inventory list for cultural items of national importance kept by the Federal Office for Civil Protection.


The Archive on the history of women in Switzerland serve to hold the sources for the history of women. It offers opportunities and support to all researchers in their work. The archives maintain contact with institutions both at home and abroad. They prove that the constant contribution from women to the development of human culture is not recognisable if they are only seen as the victims of oppression. We want to show the importance of the history of the Swiss feminist movement to our society. It is scientifically proven that Swiss women of the early 20th century were some of the best organised women in Europe. There is, here, a severe lack of historical knowledge in education, which needs to be redressed. The Foundation is keen to put women's equality into its historic place.


The Foundation has two main aims:

  1. An ideology-free rehabilitation of the history of the Swiss feminist movement
  2. Inclusion of the history of women and the feminist movement in our country in history books, in school education and in adult education. It is internationally acknowledged that without women's equality in history, women will never be fully equal.

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