Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Women Working, 1800-1930 - Tuesday's Tip

If you are like me, you enjoy adding depth to research about your female ancestors by learning about the context of their lives, the time periods in which they lived, and the environment, work, and leisure activities which may have occupied their time.

A site that may be of interest to you is Harvard University Library's Women Working, 1800-1930.  Before exploring this site, I assumed that it focused on women who worked as wage earners, either at home or outside the home.  There are parts of the website that focus on this kind of work, but there are many other resources for all kinds of work (and leisure activities) performed by women and the work of women's organizations.

You can search the website or browse by key events, notable people, or topic.  A brief timeline is also available.  Within the timeline are links to some of the resources in Women Working.

The collection includes scanned images of
  • books and pamphlets for perusal by region, by topic, by types of work
  • diaries and memoirs of a farmer, actress, school teacher, and secretary
  • institutional records including those from trade unions and bureaus; scrapbooks; and others
  • key organizations relating to women who worked outside the home such as Bureau of Labor Statistics, National American Woman Suffrage Association, National Women's Trade Union League of America, Vocational Adjustment Bureau, Women's Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU)
  • magazines that were either written by women or for women, including some issues of The Delineator, Dorcas Magazine, The Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Home Companion, among others.
  • manuscripts include correspondence, diaries, journals, albums, and scrapbooks
  • photographs include individual photographs and albums
  • trade catalogs for beauty products, toiletries, and pharmaceuticals; clothing; groceries and recipes; home appliances and technology; household goods; machinery; medicine; office and school supplies; reading materials; recreation; and transportation.  These are delightful because they are illustrated -- and there are so many

This is part of the description from the website:
Though it is a relatively recent field of study, women's history is inscribed across all of the Harvard Library holdings gathered since 1638.  By examining those holdings afresh and querying them in a new and feminist light, the curators of Women Working have aggregated thousands of items that cast light on women's history.  The result is a unique virtual collection, comprising over 650,000 individual pages from more than 3,100 books and trade catalogs, 900 archives and manuscript items, and 1,400 photographs.

Women Working 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.
Images of the pages are shown full size, which means you'll have to scroll vertically to see them in sections.  Some pages have the option to reduce the size, some do not.  Images cannot be pinned on Pinterest but they can be downloaded and saved for future reference/use. 

There is more at this website than can be read in one day.  For this reason, I believe it will become one of my go-to websites, along with HEARTH, when I want to research the time periods of my female (and sometimes male) ancestors.  I hope you may find it useful, too.


Copyright ©2013-2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .


  1. Interesting find. I'll check it out. Thanks.

  2. Thank you for the info! Great subject!

    1. Hi, NKJLK. I hope you find some useful information after you've used the site for a while. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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