Women and Social Movements Library | Alexander Street
Go inside the woman's suffrage movement with Elisabeth Freeman … view the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights with Minerva Bernardino … explore the foundation for the modern LGBTQ movement in The Ladder, published by the Daughters of Bilitis … and read the words of Justina, who joined the armed struggle against the American-sponsored regime in Guatemala in the 1980s.
Women and Social Movements Library focuses on women’s public activism globally, from 1600 to the present. Created through collaboration with leading historians, the collection contains nearly 400,000 pages of primary source documents and more than 200 related scholarly essays interpreting these sources.
The powerful online content in Women and Social Movements Library allows students and researchers to interpret historical materials in ways not possible in print media. Serving all levels of historical research, the Library makes often inaccessible primary sources accessible within a monographic focus that uses interpretative frameworks to contribute to historical knowledge.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000

Launched in 1997, Women and Social Movements in the United States is an online journal devoted to advancing scholarly debates and understanding about U.S. history and
U.S. women’s history at all levels. More than 2,700 authors have written and curated 170,000+ pages of innovative scholarship, primary documents, books, images, essays, book and website reviews, teaching tools, and more. The project combines the analytic power of a database with the new scholarly insights of a peer-reviewed journal. Published twice a year since 2004, the database/journal was edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin from 2004 through Spring 2019. Since Fall 2019, Rebecca Jo Plant and Judy Tzu-Chun Wu of the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Irvine, respectively, have taken on editorship with input from an editorial board of leading scholars.

Document Projects

The collection is organized through 123 document projects. Each is a scholarly work that links an interpretive essay to 30 or more related primary documents. Through these materials, students and researchers are led from discovery to contextual understanding. Four new document projects are added every year. Recent examples include:
  • "Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners! A Transnational Campaign  for Liberation”
  • “How Did Female Protestant Missionaries Respond to  the Japanese American Incarceration Experience during World War II?”
  • “How and Why Did Women in SNCC (the Student Non- Violent Coordinating Committee) Author a Pathbreaking Feminist Manifesto, 1964–1965?”
Each semiannual issue adds 2,500 pages of carefully curated and deeply indexed primary materials drawn from hundreds of archives and libraries. These include:
  • Publications by State and Local Commissions on the Status of Women, 1963-2000.
  • 16,000 pages of writings by and about Black Woman Suffragists, 1830-1960
  • Proceedings of the National Women’s Anti-Slavery Conventions in the 1830s.
  • Proceedings of Women’s Rights Conventions (1848–1869).
  • Proceedings of the National Conventions of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (1874–1898).
  • Publications of the League of Women Voters (1920–2000).
  • 50 state reports addressing gender bias in the courts.


2020 releases of the journal will cover various topics including:

“Sexualities and Bodies”

  • The Spring issue, “Sexualities and Bodies,” features a very rich document project by Jamie Wagman entitled “Transgender in the Heartland: Transitioning and Seeking Community in Middle America." This project consists of oral history interviews, including both audio files and transcripts, of twenty transgender women and men who grew up or currently live in the Midwest, many in small towns and rural areas.
  • Also included is a roundtable, “Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the Archives,” featuring contributions from Morna Gerrard, archivist for Women and Gender Collections at Georgia State University Library; Jeff Snapp, formerly of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Project Archivist at ONE Archive; and Liana Zhou, Director of the Kinsey Institute Library and Special Collection.

“Women’s Citizenship and state power”

  • The Fall 2020 edition focuses on questions of women’s citizenship and state power in the mid-twentieth century U.S. It features two document projects that, in the broadest sense, show how different American constituencies grappled with the growing power of the federal government and the struggle to define the meaning of national citizenship in ways that accorded with their own understanding of their place within the national polity.
  • The first document project, by Mary Klann, focuses on Native American women’s opposition to termination — the policy approach pursued by the federal government beginning in the 1940s that, in the name of assimilation, aimed to “terminate” the government’s special relationship with Native American tribes.
  • A second document project, by David Dawson and Rebecca Jo Plant, explores congressional debates during World War II over whether to draft women for civilian work, as Britain did, in order to maximize its human resources

Introducing Judy Tzu-Chun Wu and Rebecca Jo Plant

Meet the new faculty editors who will oversee Women and Social Movements in the U.S. over the next five years. In a recent conversation with Judy Tzu-Chun Wu and Rebecca Jo Plant, they described the profound influence of Dublin and Sklar on women’s history and how the new editorial team will continue to grow and enhance this comprehensive, essential project which Dublin and Sklar began in 1997 and in partnership with Alexander Street since 2003. 

Wu and Plant look forward to bringing some new features and content to the collection, such as:

  • More multi-format content, including video for a more dynamic, immersive learning and research experience
  • Bi-annual e-journal publications/content updates organized according to theme
  • Examples of art as a form of social protest. Submissions of creative work that sparks intellectual and political reflection are welcome


Judy Tzu-Chun Wu is a professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine and director of the Humanities Center. She received her Ph.D. in U.S. History from Stanford University and previously taught at Ohio State University. She authored Dr. Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: the Life of a Wartime Celebrity (University of California Press, 2005) and Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era (Cornell University Press, 2013). Her current book project, a collaboration with political scientist Gwendolyn Mink, explores the political career of Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color U.S. congressional representative and the namesake for Title IX. Wu also is working on a book that focuses on Asian American and Pacific Islander women who attended the 1977 National Women’s Conference. She co-edited Women’s America: Refocusing the Past, 8th Edition (Oxford 2015), Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (Brill 2017), and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies (2012-2017).


Rebecca Jo Plant is an associate professor in History at the University of California, San Diego. The author of Mom: The Transformation of Motherhood in Modern America, and co-editor of Maternalism Reconsidered: Motherhood, Welfare, and Social Policies in the Twentieth Century, she has held major fellowships from the American Association of University Women, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Australian Research Council. Along with Frances M. Clarke, she won the 2015 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize and Berkshire Conference of Women Historians’ Prize for best article for “‘The Crowning Insult’: Federal Segregation and the Gold Star Mother and Widow Pilgrimages of the Early 1930s” (Journal of American History).



Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, edited by Thomas Dublin and Kathryn Kish Sklar, is available for perpetual access purchase.

Women and Social in the United States, 1600-2000, edited by Rebecca Jo Plant and Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, is available for perpetual access through an annual purchase.

Combined editions are available for subscription.



Women and Social Movements, International1840-2010

Women and Social Movements, International provides an unparalleled survey of how women’s struggles against gender inequalities promoted their engagement with other issues across time and cultures. Backed by a global editorial board of 130 scholars, Women and Social Movements, International is a landmark collection of primary materials drawn from 300 repositories. Assembled and cross-searchable for the first time, these resources illuminate the writings of women activists, their personal letters and diaries, and the proceedings of conferences at which pivotal decisions were made. The collection lets researchers see how activism of the past shaped events and values that live on today, with deep insight into peace, human trafficking, poverty, child labor, literacy, and global inequality. More than 150,000 pages of primary source documents include a central core of 60,000 pages of the proceedings of more than 400 international women’s conferences. Users will find coverage of topics including:
  • The 1840 World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London.
  • The “Beijing + 15” agenda, which reviewed implementation of the 1995 Beijing Platform. 
  • The Casablanca Dream conference of 2007, which united women from the Global South.
  • Crucial meetings of the League of Nations, the  International Abolitionist Federation, the Inter-American Commission on Women, the African American Institute, the International Council of Jewish Women, and others.
About seventy-five percent of the works in Women and Social Movements, International 1840-Present are in copyright, with materials licensed directly from key women’s organizations and leading publishers. Approximately seven percent of materials appear in original languages other than English.

Additional key content includes:

  • 25 original essays by leading scholars of women’s international activism.
  • 90,000 pages of journals, manuscripts, letters, photographs, diaries, and ephemera.
  • Video slideshows of the NGO forums at the UN women’s conferences, 1975-1995.
  • Reports from many different committees of women’s international organizations, ideal for comparison of multiple perspectives.
  • A dictionary of women’s international organizations, which details the historical impact of the groups and their leaders.
  • Links to 25,000 additional pages of valuable primary resources online.

Women and Social Movements in Modern Empires since 1820

As the agents of empire, women acted as missionaries, educators, healthcare professionals, and women’s rights advocates. As opponents of empire, women were part of nationalist, resistance, and reform movements, and served as conservators of culture.
Through more than 70,000 pages of curated documents, plus new video and audio recordings, Women and Social Movements in Modern Empires since 1820 explores prominent themes related to conquest, colonization, settlement, resistance, and post-coloniality, as told through women’s voices. This archival database includes documents related to the Habsburg, Ottoman, British, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, and United States empires, and to settler societies in the United States and South Africa. A large, innovative section focuses on the voices of Native Women in North  America.

Research and Teaching Applications

Its variety of sources and breadth of coverage make Women and Social Movements in Modern Empires useful for studies of women’s history, U.S. and European history, world and comparative history, history of the Global South, women’s studies, religion, social and cultural history, postcolonial studies, sociology, and political science.
Researchers will:
  • Acquire access to colonial and postcolonial sources.
  • Compare the lives of women in different empires in colonial and postcolonial contexts.
  • Study transnational issues such as prostitution, relations between colony and metropole, governance, popular culture, citizenship, employment, health and medicine, education, domestic life, intimacy and sexuality, children, and intermarriage.

Document Clusters

The database is organized around 45 document clusters, with documents selected by experts in the field; accompanying scholarly essays provide context and interpretation. Documents not in English are accompanied by English abstracts. Sources are drawn from archives worldwide, including the Archivo Nacional de la República de Cuba, Habana, Cuba; the Burke Library Special Collections, Columbia University; Harvard Divinity School Library; Centre des Archives Diplomatiques de Nantes; Diliman Library, University of the Philippines; the National Archives Repository, Pretoria; Yale University Library; and many others. The documents in this collection have never before been available in a single, cross-searchable location. 

Just Published Online

Looking toward the 2020 centennial of the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment through which women gained the right to vote nationally, we are preparing an Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States, which is freely available upon completion. The first installment of this resource is accessible at https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/VOTESforWOMEN and we will be adding more sketches regularly through early 2021, when the Dictionary should be complete. 

For this project, we are soliciting biographical sketches of Black Woman Suffragists and supporters of the National Woman’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association. This work is expected to yield names of more than 3,000 activists not previously identified in biographical dictionaries. Library colleagues are invited to contribute biographical sketches or supervise the work of students. If you are interested in participating, email editor Thomas Dublin.