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American Women: A Guide to Women's History Resources at the Library of Congress

The Library's unique and diverse collections are rich with resources for the study of women's history. This research guide gathers together a collection of topical guides and essays that tell the stories of women in America.


This research guide gathers together and updates most of the topical and format-based sections of the online presentation of 456-page print resource guide entitled, American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States, which was published in December 2001 by the Library of Congress in cooperation with the University Press of New England.

Table of Contents

Each component of this series is published as an individual research guide and can be accessed from the following links:

Selected Images from the Library of Congress

Preface by Carla D. Hayden

The Library of Congress has a long tradition of collecting women’s history materials in a variety of formats and subject areas. As noted in the preface to the first American Women guide, published in 2001, “For two hundred years, the Library of Congress…has been gathering materials necessary to tell the stories of women in America.”1 The Library identified women’s suffrage as a targeted subject for acquisitions with surprising foresight, and it continues to build and strengthen its holdings to document the diversity of American women’s lives.

In 1903 the sixth Librarian of Congress, Ainsworth Spofford, convinced his friend, suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony, to donate her personal collection of more than 250 books and other printed material to the Library. As Anthony prepared her donation, she inscribed many of the books with commentary on their history and importance, creating a valuable record of her reflections on a lifetime of activism.

The Library’s curators soon began amassing manuscripts, scrapbooks, photographs, and other items relating to the struggle for women’s rights, including the papers of Carrie Chapman Catt, Mary Church Terrell, and other suffragists, as well as the records of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman’s Party. Together these items form a compelling documentary history of the suffrage campaign from its early connections to the abolition and temperance movements to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment—known as the Anthony Amendment—in August 1920. In fighting for the right to vote, women formed national political organizations and developed new strategies for protest. Women had always represented a vital, but often unacknowledged, part of the nation’s history, and the suffrage movement brought them into the public sphere in new and more visible ways.

Scholarship in women’s history, gender history, women’s studies, and related fields is essential to how we understand American history. This recently revised and updated American Women guide highlights new collection materials and research tools and makes these resources more easily discoverable by researchers. We hope that this guide continues to inspire researchers of all levels in making new discoveries and charting new perspectives on American women.

Carla D. Hayden, Librarian of Congress


  1. See the preface to the print version of American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States,, 2001. Digitized version available online from HathiTrust Back to text