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American Women: Resources from the Manuscript Collections

Reform & Activism

Complementing the division's women's suffrage collections are numerous materials documenting women's involvement in the nineteenth-century abolition and temperance movements, their work in a host of Progressive reform initiatives, as well as their activism in twentieth and twenty-first century campaigns for African American civil rights, women's rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Women's early reform efforts brought them into arenas and activities often thought to be outside women's proper sphere. Most of the reformers represented in the division's collections were from the middle and upper classes, but their papers and those of the organizations they founded have been successfully used by historians studying the confluence of class and gender and analyzing elite attitudes toward the people they hoped to assist or reform or both.

National Women's Trade League, 6th Biennial Convention. June 1917. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The following "Reform & Activism" collections are highlighted in these sections of the guide: