The Women’s Refugee Commission has announced that it will donate its
historical archives, which document its 20-year role as an influential voice for improving the
lives of refugee women, children and young people, to the Archive for Human Rights at the Duke
Under an agreement reached by the two organizations, the Women’s Refugee
Commission, which was known until January 2009 as the Women’s Commission for Refugee
Women and Children, will transfer its inactive physical archives, including memoranda,
correspondence and publications dating back to its 1989 founding, to the Duke Libraries, where
they will be available to researchers, students and the general public.
“I can’t think of a more perfect way to honor our 20th anniversary year,” said Women’s Refugee
Commission Executive Director Carolyn Makinson. “Through our archives, researchers will see
how the Women’s Refugee Commission has been a vital voice for a vulnerable population that
often has no voice—helping refugee women, children and young people speak and advocate for
Women’s Refugee Commission archives contain crucial documents in the organization’s
research, advocacy and evaluation roles on issues ranging from reproductive health to refugees
with disabilities to U.S. detention and asylum.
"The archives of the Women's Refugee Commission will be a remarkably rich addition to Duke's
collections, and will be of great interest to a broad array of students and scholars from many
disciplines,” said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian, and Vice
Provost for Library Affairs. “The Libraries, through our Archive for Human Rights, are
committed to preserving the Women's Refugee Commission archives and to ensuring that they
will be accessible to researchers well into the future."
The agreement with Duke University Libraries will provide for the transfer of inactive
documents, papers and electronic files from all facets of Women’s Refugee Commission’s
work. Certain internal documents, including personnel files or sensitive meeting notes not
covered by the agreement, will remain at the Women’s Refugee Commission’s offices in New
For two decades, the Women’s Refugee Commission has advocated vigorously for laws, policies
and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced
women, children and young people—bringing about lasting, measurable change.
In 1994, its groundbreaking study “Refugee Women and Reproductive Health: Reassessing
Priorities” was the first comprehensive report on this issue and shed harsh light on the almost
total lack of reproductive health services for refugees. Since then, the Women’s Refugee
Commission has been in the forefront of advocacy efforts to improve policy, practice and
funding for reproductive health. Since 2007, the Women’s Refugee Commission has led an
international effort to find safer fuel alternatives to lessen/decrease risk the dangers—including
rape and murder—that women and girls face when they leave refugee camps to collect firewood
to cook meals for their families.
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