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French Women & Feminists in History: A Resource Guide

Research Strategies

The Library holds a variety of materials on French history and culture, all of which can be located through the Library of Congress Online Catalog or the Library of Congress Digital Collections. To find journals by title (and determine which database to search) click on Other Search Tools and use Serial Solutions External. Type in the word cahier or feminisme to find relevant journals that are available onsite at the Library. Some are open access.

Image of the LC Online Catalog Homepage

The Library of Congress Online Catalog is a great place to begin your research since it provides bibliographic descriptions for the vast majority of collection items available at the Library.

Types of Searches

  • Browse
    Use this search to find titles, authors/creators, subjects, call numbers, or standard numbers.
  • Advanced Search
    Use this search for a guided approach to building a more complex search combinging names, titles, subjects, and keywords as needed.
  • Keyword Search
    Use this search for a "one box" approach to find words and phrases anywhere in the catalog record or in title, author, or subject fields.

Using Search Limits

All searches can be narrowed down by adding filters to your search using the "Add Limits" button. Limit searches with the following options:

  • Years of Publication
  • Place of Publication
  • Location in the Library
  • Type of Material
  • Language

Subject Searches for French Material in the Online Catalog

The Library of Congress Online Catalog represents a collection of over 18 million catalog records for books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources in the Library of Congress collections. The vastness of the French collections makes it imperative to use limits and more refined searches to wade through the volume of material. In some cases—where a title or author is known in advance—it is easy to do a title or author search. However, when looking for material on a given topic (Browse Search using "Subject Containing") it will help to use the assigned Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). It is essential to determine the LCSH that was used to group subject material and this is not always intuitive. There are printed volumes that provide alphabetized lists of the LCSH. Please consult the French Collections Guide for a general selection of books about women in France.

Relevant LCSHs on French Feminism and Women in France are as follows:

It is important to conduct many searches. For example, Women revolutionaries--France--Biography will not bring you every biography on revolutionary women in France. You will find additional works under Women intellectuals--France--Biography.

When searching for individuals, it is recommended that you locate the authoritative name used by the Library's catalogers. For example, to find all subject headings on Joan of Arc or Jeanne d'Ark, browse "AUTHORS/CREATORS (Containing)":

Another way to determine a LCSH is to locate a relevant book by title, and note the LCSHs that have been assigned. There will be some overlap, and these subject headings are not always entirely comprehensive. For example, conducting a title search for "French Resistance" will bring you to a book with that title, and scrolling down you will see the LC Subject headings providing the following terms which are linked to thousands of relevant titles as well as narrower terms related to the subject:

Also helpful from a catalog record is the feature "Browse by shelf order" which appears further down in the record by a hyperlink of the books call number. Clicking on this will display books in order by call number and gives the reader the sense of browsing the shelves. Although one cannot open the books, this is still a very effective way of finding relevant books on a given subject.

Librarians can help! Visit us in the European Reading Room (LJ 250), email us at [email protected], or call our reference desk staffed by librarians at 202-707-4515.