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Frequently Asked Questions

I'm interested in researching with IWASM. What do I do?

Once you have a research topic in mind, email our Collections Manager at collections@iwasm.org to get started! Please make sure to provide your name, preferred method of contact (email/phone), and as much detail as possible about your research interest.

If you are interested in having our staff conduct research on your behalf, we are happy to do so! Please know that fees do apply for remote research to help cover the costs of preservation, care of collections, and staff time.

If you are interested in visiting the Fay Gillis Wells Research Center in person, we welcome researchers Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm. We ask a minimum of two weeks notice for any in-person research appointment to ensure adequate time to pull the material. We are not able to accommodate walk-in researchers.

Please see our Know Before You Go fact sheet for more information!

What kinds of items do you have?

The IWASM cares for an estimated 20,000 collections items. This includes manuscript collections, physical artifacts such as trophies, uniforms, and patches, books, and photographs. Our collections cover the history of NASA, the Ninety-Nines, early aviators such as Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols, and Bessie Coleman, flight attendants, commercial pilots, air derbies, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), and much more. 

A majority of the museum's diverse collections are not available online. Digitization is an ongoing process and is dependent on preservation needs, funding, legal restrictions, and available staff time. If you are interested in an item that is not yet digitized, please let us know!

Can I get reproductions of certain items?

Yes! The Research Center is able to provide reproductions of photographs, documents, video/VHS, CDs/DVDs, and more. We can also provide digital images of 3-D collections items such as clothing, shoes, textiles, aircraft pieces, etc. Reproductions are subject to fees. Fragile or damaged items can be reproduced or scanned at the discretion of the Collections Manager. IWASM reserves the right to deny reproduction requests. See more information about reproductions here.

Why does IWASM charge reproduction and/or permission fees?

Reproduction and/or permission fees help defray the costs of digitization, preservation, and ongoing care of our collections. Additionally, those fees help cover staff time to find items, conduct research, digitize, send previews, provide captions and credits, and appropriately size the image resolution. 

Does IWASM really have information about all women?

In 2022, IWASM received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete the first full inventory and rehousing project of the museum’s collections in its nearly 50-year history. This process also enabled the museum to conduct an informal diversity audit. When the project was completed, the results confirmed that the museum’s collections mirror the historic trend of the aviation and aerospace fields. For instance, women of color have historically been marginalized and discouraged from pursuing a career in aviation and aerospace (see 2022 US Federal Aviation Administration Report). Thanks to the diversity audit, IWASM now has developed a collecting strategy based on whose voices are/have been present in the collections and, most importantly, whose are missing.

We openly acknowledge this gap and area of improved representation and aim to do better. IWASM recognizes that not all stories are currently represented in our archives, exhibits, and collections. We are actively working to fill those gaps and share more inclusive and diverse histories that better reflect our society and the lived experiences of all women in air and space.