Skip to Main Content
Chat With Us

ENGL 401 001 Scribbling Women and Suffragettes: Human Rights and American Women's Writing, 1850-1920


About this Guide

This Library guide will direct you to collections of primary resources regarding the American women's suffrage movement and secondary, scholarly literature on the same topic. It also directs you to resources that advise on the proper use and citation of m

About this Guide

This Library guide will direct you to collections of primary resources regarding the American women's suffrage movement and secondary, scholarly literature on the same topic. It also directs you to resources that advise on the proper use and citation of multimedia in your course projects.

Further information and help is always available. Please drop by Stephen Sturgeon's Research Librarian Office Hours on the fourth floor of Stokes (Wednesdays, 1-3 pm -- no appointments necessary), or feel free to e-mail.


Images on this guide were obtained from Wikimedia Commons. (left to right: Charlotte Perkins Gilman; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Harriet Jacobs; Rebecca Harding Davis)

Primary Resources

Wikimedia Commons "is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone". It hosts tens of millions of images that are easily downloaded and it is easy to search, but it does not provide much context for the images it holds. Best to use this resource in combination with another that will equip you to understand and explain the items you find here.

The Struggle for Women's Suffrage. From the US Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs Division, this selection includes "portraits of women who campaigned for women's rights, particularly voting rights, and suffrage campaign scenes, cartoons, and ephemera. Additionally, linked to this page is a "women's suffrage timeline".

The National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. This "library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign" is part of the US Library of Congress, and over 100 of its items have been digitized and made freely available online.

Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party. A digital archive of over 400 photographs in the US Library of Congress, most taken between 1913 and 1922, that "depict the tactics used by the militant wing of the suffrage movement in the United States—including picketing, petitioning, pageants, parades and demonstrations, hunger strikes and imprisonment---as well as individual portraits of organization leaders and members."

Women Working, 1800-1930 "is a digital exploration of women's impact on the economic life of the United States between 1800 and the Great Depression. Working conditions, workplace regulations, home life, costs of living, commerce, recreation, health and hygiene, and social issues are among the issues documented in this online research collection from Harvard University." This collection, which includes digitized books, manuscripts, and multimedia, goes beyond the bounds of the suffrage movement, but you may find intriguing materials here nonetheless. To stay within the topic of suffrage, try entering the terms "suffrage" and "women" on the "Search" page.

Women and Social Movements in the United States. "Organized around the history of women in social movements in the U.S. between 1600 and 2000, this collection seeks to advance scholarly debates and understanding about U.S. women’s history generally".

Early Feminist Publications: The Lily, National Citizen and Ballot Box, The Revolution. Three nineteenth-century periodicals dedicated to the subject of women's roles in American society,

Gerritsen Collection: Women's History Online. This database covers the study of international women's history, feminism and the feminist movement. It consists of periodicals, books, and pamphlets in 15 languages.

Reference & Scholarly Article Databases

GenderWatch aims to provide "authoritative historical and current perspectives on the evolution of gender roles as they affect both men and women."

MLA International Bibliography. Especially useful for scholarship on literary works, try searching authors' names (in "Advanced Search") as subject headings.

America: History and Life. An index of journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and dissertations pertaining to the study of United States and Canadian History, from 1910 to the present.

Encyclopedia of American Studies. This resource brings together a wide range of disciplines related to the history and cultures of the United States, from pre-colonial days to the present. It features broad, synthetic articles covering areas such as history, literature, art, photography, film, architecture, urban studies, ethnicity, race, gender, economics, politics, wars, consumer culture, and global America.

American National Biography Online. Scholarly biographical articles with short bibliographies on deceased notable Americans.

Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. Economic perspectives on historical events such as abolition, prohibition, and world wars, including era overviews, event/movement profiles, biographies, and business/industry historical profiles.

Women's Studies International. Covers the core disciplines in Women's Studies to the latest scholarship in feminist research, 1972 and earlier to present.


Before you reproduce textual or visual items you find on the internet, it's important to understand what restrictions are attached to the content you'd like to use, and if that content is available for re-use at all. Once a resource is digitized it does not lose the protections of copyright. Most of the digital archives listed in the "Primary Resources" section above, like WikiMedia Commons, contain items that are in the public domain and may be reproduced freely. Others feature items that still have copyright restrictions attached to them, and as you may come across items you'd like to use in resources other than the ones linked to on this guide, you should acquaint yourself with some basic rules and guidelines regarding copyright.

The Cornell University Library Information Center has produced a very convenient chart breaking down Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States. The taking of a photograph and the first publication of that photograph, for example, are two separate events carrying different sets of copyright protection, and the Cornell chart provides the relevant information for both instances. In addition to the creation and/or publication of an item, other factors like the birth and death years of its creator, the country in which it was created and/or published, and an item's archival status may be significant in determining whether you may reproduce it.

"Fair use" is a concept that allows for the use of copyright-protected items within certain contexts, such as the classroom, but it is not a law: it's unwise to rely on it for ironclad justification of use of all material under copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index is worth reading, as well as this supplement. Other institutions, like the Columbia University Libraries, have made Fair Use Checklists that you should feel confident in using as guides. 

in other words, there are vast amounts of digitized materials that are in the public domain, archived in openly accessible repositories, and completely available for you to use within any context you want. But that is not the only kind of material out there. Before you reproduce an item, check to see if it has been labeled as in the pubic domain or openly accessible. If it is not in the public domain, you may still be able to use it, but you'll need to do some checking first, by consulting the resources linked to on this guide and by consulting your librarian

Subject Librarian

Profile Photo
Steve Runge
Senior Liaison for English Literature & Asian Studies
O'Neill Library 314
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467