2007 Honorees

Barbara Haney IrvineBarbara Haney Irvine 

Founding President, Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, Inc.(now Alice Paul Institute) 

Barbara Irvine is a national advocate for the recognition and preservation of women’s historic sites. Based on her work to save one woman’s site in New Jersey, Barbara learned that nationwide most historic resources associated with women were generally unrecognized and in jeopardy of being lost forever.She assumed a major role in calling attention to the plight of women’s sites and the interpretation of women’s history at historic sites throughout the United States.  

Inspired by Alice Paul’s passionate crusade for women’s right to vote and the Equal Rights Amendment, Barbara joined ten other women in 1984 to found the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation (APCF), now the Alice Paul Institute, and celebrate the centennial of Paul’s birth. She led the organization as the volunteer president and board chair for over 16 years during which time the organization mounted a successful campaign to save a collection of Paul’s books, papers and other personal items, including a Susan B. Anthony desk. Barbara worked with the organization to raise over $58,000 to purchase the collection in its entirety, and arrange for its placement in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and Radcliffe College’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.

Less than a year later, APCF was offered the opportunity to purchase Paulsdale, Alice Paul’s birthplace and home in Mount Laurel, NJ. The fate of the home and its six acre site could be clearly seen in the housing developments surrounding the site. APCF knew it had no choice but to accept the challenge to save Paulsdale. Barbara spearheaded the national campaign to preserve this extraordinary site, raising over $1.8 million in public and private funds to purchase and rehabilitate the home for use as an interpreted site, and leadership development center for girls and women.  Under Barbara’s leadership, Paulsdale was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991. 

While still deeply involved with the campaign to preserve Paulsdale, Barbara initiated and chaired the first national conference on women’s historic sites held at Bryn Mawr College in 1994.  Under her leadership the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites was founded in 1999, an organization that promotes the preservation and interpretation of sites and locales that bear witness to women’s participation in American life. She also played a key role in the creation of the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail.

Barbara’s work has not gone unnoticed. In 2000, Barbara was appointed to the Women’s Progress Commemorative Commission, established by Congress to survey sites that were instrumental in the women’s movement nationally and to recommend ways to ensure their preservation. Among other awards, she was named “Woman of the Year” in 2005 by Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national service sorority.

Currently, Barbara serves as Executive Director of the New Jersey Historic Trust, an historic preservation funding agency. She is married to Geoffrey Irvine, a strong supporter of Barbara’s work and of equality for women. 

While Barbara Haney Irvine was initially influenced by Alice Paul, she has created her own powerful legacy through her tireless efforts to ensure that the stories of women’s lives and the places where women lived, worked and died will continue to inspire us and all future generations.

You can reach Barbara at: womenssites@aol.com or learn more about the organization she helped to found at www.alicepaul.org