American Women Through Time
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1930 Jessie Daniel Ames organizes the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching.
Jessie Daniel Ames Papers, 1866-1972 (University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries) includes organizational papers of the ASWPL and the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.

1932 Amelia Earhart's solo Atlantic flight.
See: The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers [online]. W. Lafayette: Purdue University Libraries, [2002- ]. Available from:
Listen to the Booknotes interview with Susan Butler, author of East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart.

1933 Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin found the Catholic Worker Movement.
Dorothy Day Library offers a database of Day's writings, a small collection of photographs, and additional research sources.

1933 As Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins becomes the first female cabinet member.
Frances Perkins (1880-1965). Draft notes of reply to F. D. Roosevelt on her nomination to the Cabinet. In Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries.
Frances Perkins is featured in Notable New Yorkers [Oral History Research Office, Columbia University Libraries]. The site includes streaming audio and the transcript from the oral history interview, a biographical profile, and a small photo gallery.

1933 Nellie Tayloe Ross becomes the first woman to head the U.S. Mint.
In a brief newsreel, Woman Directs Money Making from the American Heritage Center, Ross expresses her hopes for implementing President Roosevelt's economic policies.

1934 Ella Fitzgerald sings at the Apollo Theatre's amateur contest.
National Public Radio's profile of Ella Fitzgerald, highlights the audition for the contest and other key events in her career.

1934 Mary Margaret McBride begins her radio program.
Historian Susan Ware dicusses her book "It's One O'clock and Here is Mary Margaret McBride" at a Center for the Book lecture [ February 22, 2005].
Remembering Radio's Mary Margaret McBride [All Things Considered, National Public Radio, May 14, 2005]

1934 Photographer Doris Ulmann (1882-1934) makes her last trip to southern Appalachia.
The Doris Ulmann Photograph Collection at the University of Oregon Libraries offers online access to 1800 images.

1935 Changing New York: Photographs by Berenice Abbott, 1935-1938 [New York Public Library]
Profile of Berenice Abbott [National Public Radio] offers a brief overview of the Changing New York exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

1935 Eleanor Roosevelt begins writing "My Day," a syndicated newspaper column that runs until 1962.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers site provides online access to A selection of "My Day" columns in its Online Documents section; see What is "My Day" and why is it important? for background information.

1935 The National Council of Negro Women is founded by Mary McLeod Bethune. Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site [National Park Service] provides background information about Bethune's role in the Council. The house that served as the first national headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women is now the site of the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial Museum and the National Archives for Black Women's History.

1935 The Social Security Act becomes law.
Social Security Pioneers: Frances Perkins [Social Security Administration] includes digital audio of the NBC Radio Network program America's Town Meeting of the Air. Perkins explains and defends the recently passed Social Security Act. The site also includes audio clips from Perkins' speech from 1962, "The Roots of Social Security."
Remembering Social Security's Forgotten Shepherd [Morning Edition, National Public Radio]

1935 The Works Progress Administration funds the Federal Art Project.
Harlem Hospital WPA Murals [Columbia University] includes a brief profile of artist Georgette Seabrooke and images of her mural, Recreation in Harlem.

1936 Clare Boothe Luce's scene description of her play The Women, ca. 1936 ["Words and Deeds in American History," Library of Congress]

1936 Dorothea Lange's photograph, "Migrant Mother."
See Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview [Library of Congress].

1936 Letter, Eleanor Roosevelt to Walter White detailing the First Lady's lobbying efforts for federal action against lynchings, 19 March 1936 [Words and Deeds in American History, Library of Congress]

1936 The World Center for Women's Archives, 1936 [New Jersey Historical Society]

1937 Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God," is published.
Book Club of the Air: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston [Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio]

1938 Agnes Smedley publishes China Fights Back: An American Woman with the Eighth Route Army.
Daughter of Earth: Agnes Smedley Collection [Arizona State University Libraries] includes photographs of Smedley, as well as photographs taken by Smedley while she covered the revolution in China.

1938 Billie Holiday first performs "Strange Fruit," a song about lynching in the South, at a New York Club.
David Margolick discusses Holiday and Strange Fruit in a Talking History interview [Note date: February 4, 2002].
Donna Hendry's lesson plan, Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit: Using Music to Send a Message, is part of the History of Jim Crow site.

1938 Katherine Dunham choreographs and produces her first full-length ballet, L'Ag'Ya.
Selections from the Katherine Dunham Collection at the Library of Congress

1938 Pecan-Shellers' Strike [The Handbook of Texas Online]

1938 Zora Neale Hurston begins working for the Florida division of the Work Projects Administration (WPA).
The Florida Memory Project offers an overview of this work, supporting documents and audio files, photos of Hurston, and lesson plans.

1939 Labor activist Luisa Moreno plays a key role in planning the National Congress of Spanish Speaking People. The meeting is held in Los Angeles, and attracts labor union officials, community organizers, educators, and religious leaders.
A good overview of Moreno's life and work can be found in Carlos Larralde and Richard Griswold del Castillo, Luisa Moreno: A Hispanic Civil Rights Leader in San Diego [online], The Journal of San Diego History 41 (Fall 1995).

Eleanor Roosevelt resigns from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) after it prevents Marian Anderson from performing at its Constitution Hall. Roosevelt also helps arrange Anderson's Lincoln Memorial concert.
The National Archives offers images of Eleanor Roosevelt's Letter to the DAR and the DAR's response.

1939 Marian Anderson's Lincoln Memorial concert draws an audience of 75,000.
The preview of Allan Keiler's book, Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey, includes Chapter 10, "The Concert at the Lincoln Memorial."
Listen to Marian Anderson, National Public Radio's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this concert.
Marian Anderson Collection of Photographs, 1898-1992 [University of Pennsylvania Library] includes more than 20 photographs from this event.

1939 Listen to Mary McLeod Bethune's speech, What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?, part of Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches from American Radio Works.



Ad* Access [online]. [Durham, NC]: Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, c1999.
Images of over 7000 advertisements from U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. "Beauty and hygiene" is one of the five areas of concentration.

Medicine and Madison Avenue [online]. Durham, NC: Digital Scriptorium, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, 2002 [cited 28 September 2002]. Available from:
Images of 600 health-related advertisements that appeared in newspapers and magazines from the 1910s through the 1950s.

Advice Literature

Peterson, Kelsy. The Glory of Woman: Prescriptive Literature in the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture [online]. Durham, NC: Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Duke University, 2003 [cited 21 November 2005]. Available from:
Researchers can browse this extensive, annotated bibliography by date.


Home Childbirth Training Kit [Wisconsin Historical Society] includes images and a description of the "miniature home delivery kit" used to instruct expectant mothers by the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, c. 1938.

Digital Dress Costume Collections allows researchers to search four collections simultaneously. Enter 1930-1939 to search for items from the 1930s.

Wisconsin Historical Museum Children's Clothing Collection [online]. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, updated 26 June 2001 [cited 10 December 2001]. Available from:
Tour the collection by decade (then by gender and type of clothing).

First-Person Accounts

American Women's Letters & Diaries: 1930s lists WorldCat records for collections written by women during this time period.

In the First Person indexes diaries, letters, and oral histories.

Walker, Melissa, ed. Country Women Cope with Hard Times: A Collection of Oral Histories. Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, c2004. [Limited preview, Google Book Search]


California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties [online]. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1997.

Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip [American Memory, Library of Congress]


Historical Census Browser
Researchers can examine state and county topics for individual census years and over time, as well as generate maps of selected data.

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1975.
Also available online in two parts: Part 1 and Part II.

Statistical Abstract of the United States [online]. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1879- .
A valuable online tool for locating historical statistics for a given year.

Explore Further

Ware, Susan. Holding Their Own: American Women in the 1930s. Boston: Twayne, c1982.

American Women Through Time

Ken Middleton
Middle Tennessee State Univ. Library
Murfreesboro, TN 37132