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The earliest women's serials in South Asia were published in the 19th century in colonial India. That era was a time of political and social agitation against the British Empire and multiple social reform movements across the subcontinent. The movements supporting women's education and literacy resulted in the creation of a variety of materials (novels, guides, magazines, newsletters) in multiple languages. The contents of these publications included articles about homemaking such as cooking, organization of the household, current events related to politics, opening of schools for girls, speeches by well-known women authors and activists and patterns for stitching. For more information about one such periodical in Urdu, refer to the 4 Corners of the World blog post about Jauhar-i nisvān̲.
While the serials in this section are published primarily by and for Indians, there are exceptions. One example is The Young Women of India and CeylonExternal, not held by the Library of Congress but openly accessible online through the South Asia Open Archives. This serial was published by the Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A) based in Mumbai and Kolkata. This English publication was written by and for British women living in India. Certain branches of the YWCA in India date back to 1875. The digitized issues available through the Electronic Resources tab begin in 1900.
The earliest serial in the collection is the Bengali ladies magazine, Bāmābodhinī patrikā. The Library holds all issues from 1870. This magazine was published from 1863 to 1922 by members of the Brahmo Samaj, a Bengali Hindu reformist movement. The magazine published articles by men and women, as well as historical data about the status of public schools for girls at the time.
The Library also has limited holdings from 1971 (est. 1947) of the popular Bombay-published women's magazine, Eve's weekly. This serial was edited by the iconic Indian journalist, Gulshan Ewing, who also edited the popular film magazine, Star & Style External (not held at the Library of Congress). She is also viewed as mentor to a new generation of women journalists at a time when the influence of the feminist movement in the 1970s and 80s spread across India.
Serials in South Asian languages are available in the Library’s Asian Reading Room, while serials in English are available in the Library’s Main Reading Room. See the Item Availability section of a bibliographic record to learn what issues are available at the Library of Congress.
To find out where certain items are located at the Library of Congress, please see the “Item Availability” section at the bottom of a bibliographic record in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Serials in South Asian languages will have the location “Asian Reading Room.” Serials in English are generally available in the Main Reading Room, which is indicated by the phrase “Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms.” You can also use this section to learn what issues of a serial are included in the collection, as in the example below.