Many of the women who belonged to the I.W.N.Y. in those early days were looking to build friendships and network amongst other women in the insurance industry. However, the organization can not be simply written off as a social club, they were working women, they were business women, and they were constantly seeking to educate and elevate themselves.
However, how did the women of the I.W.N.Y. navigate in an industry that was male dominated? What did they potentially sacrifice and endure? More over could the advancements and connections made through the organization have been positively or negatively perceived by their male counterparts? Many of the newsletters announce the resignation of some of their members but whether it was attributed due to qualms with the industry or members reaching retirement age is not always clear. In some cases the newsletter announces the marriage of a member who then proceeds to leave the organization. Was this a decision made by the newly married woman or her husbands doing?
These are of course only some of the questions that can be asked in relation to the collection, other questions could invoke race. While the organization’s by-laws never state that they are strictly Caucasian, there is an evident lack of diversity visible from the photographs present in the collection. Perhaps women of color and other ethnicities were not interested in joining a women’s insurance organization or maybe they were unwelcome for a time. When did the organization and the women present begin to diversify?
The Insurance Women of New York collection offers a diverse narrative through the material both present and missing. Exploring this collection might assist you in defining your research questions.