This post was written by University of Archives & Manuscripts internship student Wen Lin who is trained under the Archivist for University Records Helen Wong Smith.
The University Archives is pleased to announce the Meda Chesney-Lind Papers have been processed and available online in ArchivesSpace. This collection contains the research, academic work, and professional services of Meda Chesney-Lind, the former Director of the Women’s Studies Program and Emeritus professor of the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She is nationally recognized for her work on delinquent girls, incarcerated women, girls in gangs, and women and crime.
Born in Woodward, Oklahoma in 1947, Chesney-Lind was reared in Maryland and graduated from high school in 1965 as valedictorian. She earned a BA in Sociology with summa cum laude at Whitman College in eastern Washington. Also, her commitment to social activism began with the Anti-Vietnam War Movement in 1969 which influenced her becoming a criminologist. In the same year, she was accepted to the graduate program in sociology at the University of Hawai‘i. Even though she had grown up with stories about Hawai‘i where her mother and grandparents were from, it was her first trip to Hawai‘i. During her master’s study, she develop an interest in the feminist movement and involve in the first CR (consciousness raising) group on campus which comprised the majority of faculty wives and female students.
In 1971, Chesney-Lind went into the doctoral program and began her dissertation on abortion in Hawai‘i in the Sociology Department at the University of Hawai‘i. In 1973, she taught her first class at Honolulu Community College (HCC) as a lecturer and received a full-time position there the next year. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chesney-Lind taught courses in the largest co-ed prison in Hawaiʻi as part of her teaching load at HCC. In 1977, she completed her doctoral degree. A decade later, she received an Associate Professor position in the Women’s Studies Program at UH Mānoa.
Over the years, she taught courses that focused on the sociology of gender, women, and crime. She also served in multiple leadership roles as the Chair at Women and Crime Division of American Society of Criminology from 1989 to 1991, President of Western Society of Criminology in 1992, and Vice President of American Society of Criminology from 1993 to 1994. Moreover, her extensive contribution to the field of feminist criminology has been recognized with a large number of publications and prestigious awards.
In 1992, she received the Paul Tappan Award for Outstanding Contributions to Criminology from the Western Society of Criminology, and Michael J. Hindelang Award for the most Outstanding Scholarship to Criminology from the American Society of Criminology for Girls, Delinquency and Juvenile Justice. In 1994, she was honored with the Distinguished Scholar Award, Division on Women and Crime, American Society of Criminology. She also received the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regent’s Medal for Excellence in Research in the same year. In 1996, she received the Herbert Block Award for Outstanding Services to the Society and the Profession from American Society of Criminology. In 1997, she received the Cressey Award from National Council on Crime and Delinquency and Morrison-Gitchoff Award, Western Society of Criminology. She was also identified as an “alumna of merit” by Whitman College. Her recent book on girls’ use of violence, Fighting for Girls (co-edited with Nikki Jones) won an award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
The Meda Chesney-Lind Papers comprises five series: University Activities, Professional Services, Research Topics, Correspondences, and Notebooks. Spanning from the 1970s to 2010s, this collection reveals her professional life as a scholar and activist with a focus on women and crime. It provides valuable research materials about the brutal shakedown of the Oʻahu Community Correctional Center in 1981 and the experience and backgrounds of delinquent girls and incarcerated women in Hawaiʻi.
You can find more information about this collection through the UH-Mānoa Catalog for Archival Materials: https://archivesspace.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/