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American Women: Resources from the General Collections

Women's Organizations

Publications of Women's Organizations

Harris & Ewing, photographer. And where does the depreciation hook on? Wash. D.C. Women drivers of the District of Columbia, intent upon finding out why their cars turn right when they signal for a left turn, and vice versa, are attending a driving school sponsored by the D.C. Federation of Women's Clubs. 1935. Harris & Ewing Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Library collects annual reports, proceedings, and journals issued by many gender-based organizations. These publications provide primary resources from which to research a variety of topics, including abolition, temperance, the environment, church work, and consumer safety. Within the General Collections you can find more than fifty years of the report of the New York-based American Female Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless, but only fourteen issues of the annual report of Boston's Needlewoman's Friend Society.

You can track women's expanding roles in originally male-run groups such as the National Academy of Sciences and the American Historical Association, as well as in the more egalitarian National Spiritualist Association of Churches. For this last group, the Library holds carbon copy typescripts of the proceedings of the annual meetings, with many statements by women (1894-1983, incomplete, BX9798.S7 A15).

Membership and officer lists, budgets, reproductions of photographs, association activities, subject matter of papers presented at annual meetings, and sex of the presenters are all potential data for historical research. As with so many of these sources, the absence of women, especially women of color, in many of these volumes informs us of women's place in the organization, and perhaps in the society of the day.

Below is a short bibliography of selected periodicals related to women's organizations.  The following print resources link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.