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American Women: Resources from the Rare Book and Special Collections

Newspapers, Scrapbooks, Pamphlets & Other Ephemera

Harriet May Mills, editor. New York Suffrage Newsletter. 1906. Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911; Scrapbook 5 (1906-1907). Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Women's Rights Newspapers

The pages of the early women's rights newspapers offer us a window on the beginning of that long struggle. The Lily (Seneca Falls, N.Y., 1849-51; HV5285.L5), “devoted to the interests of woman,” was initially begun by Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894) as a temperance newspaper soon after the Seneca Falls women's rights convention. Regular contributions by Elizabeth Cady Stanton quickly transformed it into the first women's rights newspaper and a champion of the dress reform now associated with its editor.

In 1853 Paulina Wright Davis (1813-1876) began publishing The Una: A Paper Devoted to the Elevation of Woman (HQ1101.U5 Anthony Coll) in Rhode Island and then moved it to Boston. In the prospectus on the first page of the first issue, February 1, 1853, Davis explains that The Una signifies the truth she will seek in “discussing the rights, sphere, duty, and destiny of woman, fully and fearlessly.”

Agnes E. Ryan. The torch bearer : a look forward and back at the Woman's journal, the organ of the woman's movement. Woman's Journal and Suffrage News, 1916. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The Revolution (New York: Anthony, 1868-71; HN51.R5 Anthony Coll; JK1881.N357 sec. 1, nos. 2-6) , easily the most radical of women's rights periodicals, was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1868. Demanding “Principle, not Policy; Justice, not Favors,” the Revolution advocated not only universal suffrage, but also equal pay and an eight-hour work day. Anthony's personal copy of the fifth volume (January-May 1870) is inscribed to her mother: “Lucy Read Anthony, from her ‘Strong Minded’ Daughter . . . Dec. 25th 1870.” When she donated this volume to the Library of Congress in 1903, Anthony further inscribed it: “This was the end—May 26, 1870 of my experiment in newspaperdom.”

In 1870 in Boston, Lucy Stone began the more moderate, and more successful Woman's Journal, which became the official voice of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890 and continued publication under modified titles and shifting financial support until 1931 (JK1881.N357 sec. 1, nos. 7-68 NAWSA) .

[Men's League for Woman Suffrage, Miller Scrapbook]. [1910 and 1911]. Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The Rare Book and Special Collections Division's significant cache of suffrage scrapbooks offers a unique look at a slice of social history, documenting the gradual evolution of public sentiment and the changing strategies of several generations of activists as they struggled to win the vote for women. The scrapbooks are the creations of women whose interests complement each other and represent a range of activities over time and differences in focus.

Matilda Gage Scrapbooks

Like Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Gage (1826- 1898) was active in the National Woman Suffrage Association and compiled four volumes of newspaper clippings, 1850-76, that cover women's professional accomplishments and crimes against women, as well as suffrage issues (JK1901.G16) .

Ida Husted Harper Scrapbooks

Ida Husted Harper (1851-1931), a suffrage writer and Anthony biographer, compiled fourteen volumes of her published writings and activities between 1896 and 1920 (JK1896.H4). They include Harper's articles in the New York Sun, 1899-1903, extensive coverage of the California campaign of 1896, accounts of the international congresses and related social activities, 1899-1915, and detailed coverage of suffrage victories, 1916-20. These are supplemented by six boxes of suffrage pamphlets published between 1848 and 1922 (JK1896.H42) , as well as additional Harper material now in the Manuscript Division.

Miller Scrapbook

Seven scrapbooks compiled between 1897 and 1911 by Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822-1911) and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller (1856-1912) of Geneva, New York (JK1881 .N357 sec. XVI, no. 3-9 NAWSA Coll), document suffrage activities at the local, state, national, and international levels. Creator of the bloomer costume, Elizabeth Miller was the daughter of the abolitionist Gerrit Smith and a cousin of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In addition to their leadership in the suffrage cause, both women were active supporters of higher education for women.

The Millers organized the Geneva Political Equality Club and represented it at New York State and national suffrage conventions and parades. They were often hosts to national and international suffrage leaders, including Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst. The Millers' scrapbooks contain much more than the clippings one might expect. They filled their pages with programs, photographs, pins and ribbons, and other artifacts and memorabilia from years of local organizing, lobbying, and national involvement, as well as correspondence with influential people and government officials.

Sewall Scrapbooks

May Wright Sewall (1844-1920) held executive offices in both the National and the International Council of Women. She documented these organizations' activities in four volumes of clippings, 1894-1904 (HQ1114.N3).

Upton Scrapbooks

Harriet Taylor Upton (1853-1945) of Warren, Ohio, treasurer of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, compiled “Oklahoma Indian Territory,” which contains newspaper clippings about the Oklahoma bill for statehood and the campaign for women's suffrage in 1904 and 1905. It also holds an annual report of the Oklahoma NAWSA chapter outlining their successes, and signed by Kate H. Biggers (F699.S4).

Saving Scraps

In addition to the above mentioned suffrage scrapbooks, the division holds examples of scrapbooks on a variety of subjects compiled by women. Not only are scrapbooks significant for what they contain—excerpts from contemporary newspapers, photographs, and keepsakes—but they give us insight into what was important to the compilers.

  • Jessica Randolph Smith compiled “Stars and Bars” (CR113.5 S5) in 1916, covering the design and history of the first Confederate flag.
  • “Scrapbook of the Confederate Veteran, Her Dead Son,” (E464.L96 1861) compiled by Cassie Moncure as a memorial to her son, describes the Civil War, life in the South, and Southern families.
  • Mary M. North compiled two scrapbooks, the first about the American flag, Flag Day, and other patriotic issues, the second a Civil War army nurses' scrapbook, now available on microfilm (Microfilm 19739 E MicRR).
  • Thomas Shuler Shaw filled two scrapbooks with correspondence and clippings about Mary E. Wilkins (1852-1930), novelist and short story writer, in preparation for a biography, which he apparently never completed (PS1713.A46 S53 1912).

Rare Pamphlets

Mary Church Terrell, et al. The progress of colored women. [1898]. Daniel Murray Pamphlet Collection. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The pamphlet collections collectively are a rich source of information on women's history, women's movements, and issues affecting women's lives. Nineteenth-century reform movements, including contemporary writings on suffrage, abolition, education for women, prison reform, and temperance, are documented in them. These primary sources will allow the reader to follow the arguments on these and other issues, both pro and con.

More than 30,000 pamphlets are found in such groupings as the YA Pamphlet Collection, the Daniel Murray Pamphlet Collection, the African American Pamphlet Collection, the Radical Pamphlet Collection, and the bound pamphlet collections. Although most pamphlets have individual bibliographic records online, they do not have individual classification numbers. This accession-type numbering means that pamphlets on one subject or by one author will be scattered throughout the collections. Pursuing online access to them by subject heading or author and title is most efficient.

YA Pamphlets

The YA Pamphlet Collection, a huge, miscellaneous nineteenth-century pamphlet collection, includes speeches by Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) and other early feminists as well as works by and about Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), the first American woman astronomer and an advocate of higher education for women.

African American Pamphlets

The Daniel Murray Pamphlet Collection and the African American Pamphlet Collection include significant material by African American women authors and activists, particularly during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The Murray Pamphlet collection includes several works by noted abolitionist and suffragist Frances E. Watkins Harper (1825-1911), including her speech Enlightened Motherhood (Brooklyn: The Society, 1892; E449 .D16 vol. 19, no. 6 Murray Pam) given before the Brooklyn Literary Society, and some of the anti-lynching writings of journalist and lecturer Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931).

In The Progress of Colored Women (Washington: Smith Brothers; E449 .D16 vol. A, no. 13 Murray Pam), a speech Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) delivered before the Fiftieth Anniversary Convention of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association in 1898, she calls for the end of racial injustice and gender bias in education and employment.

The Daniel Murray and African American Pamphlet Collections have been digitized as a unified online collection:

Radical Pamphlets

The Radical Pamphlet Collection of approximately 4,000 items is organized as a group, with the call number HX81.A53 1870. The pamphlets are arranged alphabetically by author, organization, or title, and a container list is available in the Rare Book Reading Room.

[Frontispiece from Anarchism and other essays with bust portrait of Emma Goldman, facing front]. 1910. Paul Avrich Collection. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Pamphlets by Emma Goldman (1869-1940) are here, including Marriage and Love and Anarchism, What It Really Stands For, both published in 1914. Works on women and communism by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964), member of the National Board of the Communist Party, U.S.A., and Olive Johnson's (1872-1954) pamphlets on women and the Socialist movement are also in this collection.

The division holds five more special collections of radical literature, representing the ideologies and activities of groups across the political spectrum. The Anarchism Collection (1850-1970) includes foreign-language titles intended for urban immigrant communities in the United States, such as works by Emma Goldman and the Yiddish- language newspaper of an anarchist group of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. The Anarchism Pamphlet Collection consists of approximately 800 pamphlets, broadsides, and posters printed between 1895 and 1972 and is strong in materials relating to anarcho-syndicalism as well as anarchism. Finding aids are available in the reading room.

The Paul Avrich Collection of nearly 20,000, twentieth-century American and European anarchist publications and manuscripts was donated to the Library by Dr. Paul Avrich, its collector. It features much material concerning Emma Goldman, including a number of rare pamphlets and extensive correspondence. Materials related to Mollie Steimer (1897-1980), a participant in the controversial Abrams case concerning American civil liberties and free speech, and extensive correspondence with Clara Larsen are notable.

Contributions of women to the development of anarchist colonies and schools, especially Stelton Modern School, can be traced in the correspondence of Elizabeth Ferm (1867- 1944) and Nellie Dick. Also significant is correspondence of Jo Ann Burbank, Minna Lowensohn, Dora Keyser, and Pauline Turkel. Significant serials holdings include several issues ofAssociation of Libertarian Feminists News (Revere, Mass., 1979-85) and Rebel Woman (Portland, Ore., 1973-74). Manuscript material is arranged alphabetically by individual or organization; pamphlets are arranged alphabetically by author. A finding aid is available in the reading room and catalog records for books in the Avrich Collection are available online.

The House UnAmerican Activities Committee Collection includes 4,000 pamphlets that were produced by those under committee review and collected by the committee. The wide range of topics they address includes labor, communism, socialism, fascism, and black power. Access to this collection is available through a finding aid in the reading room or the Chadwyck-Healey microfiche publication Radical Pamphlets in American Collections (MicRR).

The M & S Collection of 10,000, twentieth- century radical books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, broadsides, and printed ephemera represents many little-known and short-lived groups that generated publications between 1950 and 1981. Publications are arranged by format and then alphabetically by group. Included are scattered issues of the newspapers Women and Revolution and Women United; the magazines Freewoman and Minute Woman; and broadsides by Female Liberation, National Organization for Women, Women's Committee against Genocide, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as many pamphlets related to abortion and other topics relevant to women. A finding aid is available in the reading room.

Birth Control & Family Planning

The division's holdings on birth control, family planning, and the birth control movement are classified in HQ, along with books on sex and marriage. Two volumes labeled “Pamphlets on contraception” (HQ763 .P3 and HQ763.P33) contain seventy-two pamphlets, many of which were given to the Library by Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), a pioneering advocate of birth control, in December 1931. The pamphlets, most of which were published in the 1920s, cover the history of the movement, include two editions of Sanger's Family Limitation, as well as her lecture leaflet, the Fight for Birth Control and present arguments both for and against birth control. (Note: Sanger's personal papers are held in the Manuscript Division.)

The division holds several treatises on abortion at HQ767 and a pamphlet describing the activities and court trials of the New York abortionist Anna Trow Lohman in Restell's Secret Life (Philadelphia: Old Franklin Publishing House, 1884; HV6534.N5 A6 1884) . Stories based on court cases and police reports dealing with various “wrongs afflicted on young women,” including deception, domestic violence, and murder, are found under HV6534.N5 A6 1869-1886.

Printed Ephemera

Pearsall Brothers. The first gymnacyclidium for ladies and gentlemen: opening exhibition and hop at the grand velocipede academy, or gymnacyclidium, containing over 8,000 square feet for riding, with gallery and seats for about 1,500 people. 1869. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 341, Folder 18. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The Printed Ephemera Collection (formerly the Broadside Collection) contains nearly 30,000 broadsides, as well as posters, programs, and other ephemera. Subjects covered in this collection include items generated by the women's movement and other reforms in which women participated, as well as advertisements of products intended for women, literary and social programs, menus, and poetry written and printed by women.

Esther De Berdt Reed, first lady of Pennsylvania, calls on her sisters to live simply and make personal sacrifices in order to save money to send to the soldiers in “Sentiments of an American Woman” ([Philadelphia, June 10, 1780]; Printed Ephemera, Port. 146: 3). Philadelphia women raised more than $300,000 in paper currency in only a few weeks. Their patriotism inspired similar efforts in other states.

How to Find Ephemeral Materials

  • Broadsides cataloged before 1972 are listed in the Catalog of Broadsides in the Rare Book Division (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1972; Z1231.B7 A5 Rare Bk Ref). The printed catalog is four volumes, organized geographically, by author and title, and chronologically, but it provides no subject access.
  • Those cataloged between 1972 and 1986 are represented in a card file in the reading room.
  • Beginning in 1986, individual online records have been created.
  • The Printed Ephemera Collection has been digitized as a unique online collection called “Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera."

Antislavery Efforts

A terrible blot on American civilization. 3424 lynchings in 33 years. 1922. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 208, Folder 36. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The work of women in support of the abolitionist cause is well documented by notices of antislavery fairs and appeals from female anti- slavery societies. The efforts of female teachers to educate the freedmen is reported in a fund-raising leaflet, “Education among the Freedmen” (Philadelphia, 1862; Printed Ephemera, Port. 157: 41), which shows schoolyard activities at Sea-Island School, No. 1, St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

Fighting for Equal Rights

As the nation prepared to celebrate its one hundredth anniversary in 1876, the rights of full citizenship promised by the Declaration of Independence were still not enjoyed by women. In “Declaration and Protest of the Women of the United States” (Philadelphia, 1876; Printed Ephemera, Port. 160: 3), the National Woman Suffrage Association lists wrongs and oppressions against women that violate the fundamental principles of government and are in their eyes grounds for impeachment of the nation's rulers. “Woman Suffrage Co-Equal with Man Suffrage” (New York, 1910; Printed Ephemera, Port 132: 2) is representative of the suffrage posters created by the National American Woman Suffrage Association to gain the attention of a variety of constituencies in the first decade of the twentieth century.