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American Women: Resources from the General Collections

Microform Materials

When researching any topic at the Library of Congress, ask a reference librarian for help in identifying microform collections on your subject. Examples of almost every type of material mentioned in this discussion of the General Collections also exist in microform.

It is impossible to mention all titles that might assist a women's history researcher, but there are large collections on:

  • nursing
  • witchcraft
  • slavery
  • religion
  • labor unions
  • missionaries
  • statistics
  • social welfare journals
  • pamphlets in American history and in women's history
  • dime novels
  • Massachusetts vital records
  • congressional documents (see section “Congressional Documents”)
  • dissertations
  • oral histories

Some are large collections acquired by the Library; others are individual book and serial titles, often filmed for preservation purposes. Two major sets for historians are:

Both collections reproduce complete runs of the Woman's Journal (Boston, 1870-1931), among other U.S. and foreign women's serial titles. Records for individual journal titles from these two sets appear in the online catalog. History of Women also has eight hundred reproductions of photographs and some manuscripts.

Researching Colonial American Women

Because books and serials published before 1801 are kept in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, many works on colonial American women must be consulted there. The Microform Reading Room, however, holds Early American Imprints,3 two microform sets of most books, pamphlets, and broadsides printed in the United States between 1639 and 1819. These include many works by and about women from those early years, and they can be easily photocopied. More than 40 percent of the titles can be viewed in print copies in the Rare Book Reading Room.

It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that there are marvelous unanticipated treats for historians of women (or any other subject) among the millions of frames in the Microform Reading Room. 

A Guide to the Microform Collections in the Researcher and Reference Services Division

There is limited subject access for microform collections in the online catalog, and no online record exists for most individual items within such collections. Most guides to individual Microform Reading Room collections are shelved in the Main Reading Room reference-desk area.