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

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

Explore the multiplicity of women’s activism in American public life from Colonial times to the present. Women and Social Movements in the United States is one of the most heavily visited resources for women’s history and women’s studies on the Web, appealing to students and researchers at all levels.

About the collection

This database/journal brings together innovative scholarship, primary documents, books, images, essays, book and website reviews, teaching tools, and more. It 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.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 is organized around more than 130 document projects and growing, works of scholarship that link an interpretive essay to 30 or more related primary documents, leading users step by step from discovery to contextual understanding. Four new document projects are added every year. Examples from the original edition by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin:

  • "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?”

The carefully curated and indexed primary source collections include: 

  • Publications by State and Local Commissions on the Status of Women, 1963-2000.
  • Writings of 350 black women suffragists, 1830-1960 totaling more than 2,000 items and more than 15,000 pages, with links to biographical sketches of these activists.
  • 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.

These primary source collections include rare and previously inaccessible materials. They are enhanced by scholarly essays from leading historians that illuminate key historical issues in those texts and provide entry points for accessing the collections.

A dictionary of social movements and a chronology of U.S. women’s history complement the primary sources and facilitate searching within the database.

By arrangement with Harvard University Press, Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600 to 2000 includes all five volumes of Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (1971–2004). Also included are previously inaccessible publications of local and state commissions on the status of women since 1963. State by state and year by year, these astonishing publications illustrate and track the full range of issues affecting the lives of American women since 1960. Commission reports are especially rich in statistical data and patrons can create their own charts using a customizable graph tool.


Meet the Editors: 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 are bringing some new features and content to the collection, such as:

  • Annual e-journal editions/content updates organized according to theme with two releases a year
  • More multi-format content, including video for a more dynamic, immersive learning and research experience
  • 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).



Highlights for the 2020 edition include:

 “Sexualities and Bodies”

"Women and Struggles over Citizenship and Sovereignty in the Mid-Twentieth Century” 


Highlights for the 2021 edition include:

Spring Issue

Kamala HarrisDocument projects:

Fall Issue

Document projects:

  • Alina R. Méndez, Gendered Invisibility: Ethnic Mexican Women and the Bracero Program, focuses on the Bracero Program (1942-1964), under which thousands of Mexicans came to the United States as contract laborers. Although the vast majority of braceros were men, the program dramatically affected women—the wives left behind, those who accompanied their husbands, and the Mexican-American women who formed relationships with migrant workers.
  • Rima Lunin Schultz, The Wife of Jane Addams, drawing primarily on letters between Mary Roset Smith and Addams, as well as correspondence with friends, the project illuminates one of the most consequential and richly documented same-sex relationships in American history.
  • Roundtable around the #EmpireSuffrageSyllabus


Highlights for the 2022 edition include:

Spring Issue

Document projects:

  • Revisiting the President’s Commission on the Status of Women through the Activism of Dorothy Height, President of the National Council of Negro Women, and Her Part in the Emergence of New Forms of Women’s Activism, 1961-1966 by Katherine Kish Sklar and Keisha Blain analyzes Height’s political engagements in the early 1960s to underscore her innovative intersectional initiatives.
  • Securing Childcare during World War II: The Case of San Diego by Kyle Ciani offers a ground-level view of how this particular city—which quickly emerged as a center of wartime industry— contended with the challenges of meeting the childcare needs of a diverse population that included both newcomers (or “inmigrants”) and long-time residents.

Roundtable Discussion:

  • On the Threshold of a Post-Roe Era? The Past and Future of Abortion Rights in the United States, three leading experts on the history of abortion and the politics surrounding it—Karissa Haugeberg, Rickie Solinger, and Mary Ziegler—offer thoughtful commentaries on how we arrived at this point and what we can likely anticipate going forward.

Fall Issue 

Document projects:

  • “Fierce and Feminist: Patsy Takemoto Mink, the First Woman of Color in Congress,” cowritten by Judy Tzu-Chun Wu and Gwendolyn Mink, focuses on the career and legacy of Patsy Takemoto Mink.
  • “From Margin to Center: California Women and the National Women’s Conference,” coauthored by Haleigh Marcello, Stephanie Narrow, and Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, zeroes in on the state that sent the largest, and in many ways the most progressive, delegation to the 1977 National Women’s Conference (NWC) in Houston, Texas.

Roundtable Discussion:

  • “Sharing Stories from 1977: Creating a Feminist Digital Humanities Project” that highlights a massive, crowd-sourced research effort to collect and make accessible the histories of the National Women’s Conference. Join the members of the team that is leading the project Sharing Stories from 1977 about a discussion on feminist digital humanities. 


Highlights for the 2023 edition include:

Spring Issue

Document projects:

  • How Did Black Women Struggle to Bring White Suffragists to Their Citizenship Cause in 1921? by Tom Dublin highlights this struggle by zeroing in the efforts of Addie Hunton and other women associated with the NAACP who pressured Alice Paul of the National Woman’s Party to take a stand against disfranchisement. The featured documents reveal how Black women fought back against attempts to marginalize them within the broader struggle for women’s rights, and how Paul and other NWP leaders resisted their appeals by attempting to frame discrimination on the basis of race as outside their purview.
  • Do not toss this letter away’: Women’s Hardship Petitions to the U.S. Federal Government during the Civil War by Cayla Regas, John Gove, Frances M. Clarke, and Rebecca Jo Plant, features white women’s petitions to President Lincoln, the War Department, and other officials. These documents show how the crisis of war led women to use an old method of political redress— petitioning—in new ways. For the first time, many thousands of ordinary women appealed to the federal government for personal assistance, requesting the release husbands and sons from military service or other interventions to ease their plight. Above all, their letters vividly illuminate the war’s emotional and economic toll on women left to tend families and make ends meet in the absence of male support.


New initiative part of Women and Social Movements #EmpireSuffrageSyllabus:

The year 2020 marked the centennial of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Long celebrated as a victory for “American women,” this milestone had mixed legacies, given the ongoing history of settler colonialism and the different gradations of citizenship in the United States and its territories.

This new digital history project offers scholars and students tools for analyzing women’s suffrage beyond the continental U.S. context by the placing the issue of gender and citizenship in the broader context of empire.

Four different chronological and thematic modules, spanning the period from the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries, offer critical pedagogical tools for approaching U.S. women’s history from a richer and more global perspective.



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 in the United States, 1600-2000 is a key component of Women and Social Movements Library along with: 


Best Reference Database 2003" Winner!

Library Journal

Alexander Street scoops the electronic publishing world yet again with a powerhouse product... This is an exciting resource and an intriguing publishing model.

Library Journal

Outstanding Academic Title 2004" Winner!


Far more comprehensive than any other website in the field... Not only the biggest, but far and away the best, using a method of organization that benefits students, teachers, and scholars alike.

Women's History Review