American Women Through Time
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Go to: II. RESEARCH SOURCES (Historical Overviews, Primary Sources, and Secondary Sources)


Alice Freeman Palmer becomes president of Wellesley College.
Ruth Bordin's book, Alice Freeman Palmer: The Evolution of a New Woman [University of Michigan Press] is available online. Chapter 6, Fulfillment, covers Palmer's presidency at Wellesley.

Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary is founded by Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles. The institution is renamed Spelman Seminary in 1884 and Spelman College in 1924.
African-American Education in the Jim Crow South [Rockefeller Archive Center] includes Sophia Packard's letter to John D. Rockefeller from 1883 in which she asks for support for the institution.

Camping with the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher [National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution]

Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross.
The Clara Barton National Historic Site [National Park Service] provides a small collection of primary source documents, including the 1878 publication The Red Cross of the Geneva Convention: What It Is.

Association of Collegiate Alumnae, forerunner of the American Association of University Women, is formally organized. American Association of University Women's Online Museum features a timeline that includes the minutes from the organization's first meeting, photographs, and other sources.

Chinese Exclusion Act
The ARC database from the National Archives includes Chinese Exclusion Acts Case Files, 1880 - 1960 and Immigration Investigations Files Relating to the Enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Acts 1882 - 1943. See the Search Hints before using the site.

Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor details the mistreatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government.
Helen Hunt Jackson [Tutt Library, Colorado College] includes transcriptions of Jackson's letters and diaries, photographs, and a short biography.

Sarah Winnemucca's Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims is the first book written by a Native American woman.
Winnemucca is featured in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

M. Carey Thomas becomes Dean of Bryn Mawr College.
Bryn Mawr College Library offers two fascinating online exhibits: The Sargent Portrait: M. Carey Thomas and John Singer Sargent and "The Very Best Woman's College There Is": M. Carey Thomas and the Making of the Bryn Mawr Campus.

Sharpshooter Annie Oakley begins touring with "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West Show.
Ohio Memory includes digital copies of a few photos of Oakley and a letter from Cody.

The Dawes Severality Act subdivides Indian reservations into individual plots of land.
E. Jane Gay (1830-1919) [Women Working, 1800-1930, Harvard University Library] offers online access to Choup-nit-ki, with the Nez Perce, which provides a first-hand account of the effects of the Dawes Act. New Perspectives on the West [PBS] includes a profile of Alice Fletcher and Selections from With the Nez Perces: Alice Fletcher in the Field, 1889-92 by E. Jane Gay.

Susanna Salter is elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas, thus becoming the first woman mayor in the country.
See Monroe Billington's article, Susanna Madora Salter -- First Woman Mayor in Kansas Historical Quarterly (Autumn 1954).

Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr found Hull House in Chicago.
Urban Experience in Chicago: Hull-House and Its Neighborhoods, 1889-1963 [online]. Chicago: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the College of Architecture and the Arts, the University of Illinois at Chicago, n.d. [cited 14 February 2003]. Available from:

Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Flood
Johnstown Flood National Memorial

Nellie Bly travels around the world in 72 days.
See Around the World in 72 Days, the companion web site to the American Experience film.

Susan La Flesche Picotte becomes the first Native American woman medical doctor.

General Federation of Women's Clubs is organized by Jane Croly.
Women Working, 1800-1930 provides an overview of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, reports from early conventions, and addtional documents.

National American Woman Suffrage Association is formed.
See Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921

Lili'uokalani becomes queen of Hawaii.
Hawaii's Last Queen provides an overview of the PBS program, a timeline, and a brief look at Lili'uokalani's musical legacy.

Ellis Island opens on January 1. Fifteen year old Annie Moore is the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. The Famous Ellis Island Passenger Arrivals.

Ida B. Wells' antilynching articles in the Memphis Free Speech.
See the Booknotes Interview with Linda McMurry, author of To Keep the Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells.

Mary Elizabeth Garrett's gift of $306,977 enables the medical school of Johns Hopkins University to open the following year.
See Celebrating the Philanthropy of Mary Elizabeth Garrett.

Senda Berenson introduces the first rules for women's basketball.
The Five College Archives Digital Access Project includes correspondence, lecture notes, photographs, publications, and speeches from the Senda Berenson Papers.

World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
Working Women, 1870-1930 (Harvard University Library) includes a brief overview of the Exposition and links to sources that document women's activities.

Draft of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible, ca. 1895 (Library of Congress)

Lillian Wald opens the Henry Street Settlement in New York City.
Wald is featured in the Jewish Women's Archive online exhibit "Women of Valor."

Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking-School Cookbook is published.
The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook [Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project, Michigan State University Libraries] includes a digital reproduction of the book and a publication history.
Fannie Farmer Cookbook Published [Mass Moments, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities]

Klondike Gold Rush begins.
Alaska's Gold! [Alaska Department of Education] includes letters that Jesse Edgren and Mae Bennett Edgren sent to their family from March 1898 to July 1899. Select "Edgren Saga."

Plessy v. Ferguson ruling allows "equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races."
See Our Documents: Plessy v. Ferguson from the National Archives.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Women and Economics is published.
See Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution (University of California Press, 1998).

Spanish-American War
See Mercedes Graf's article, Band of Angels: Sister Nurses in the Spanish-American War, Part 1.

Carrie Nation begins her militant crusade against saloons.
See the online exhibit, Carry A. Nation: The Famous and Original Bar Room Smasher (Kansas State Historical Society).
Fran Grace, author of Carrie A. Nation: Retelling a Life, has been interviewed on Booknotes and Talking History (Note date: 29 April 2002).

Florence Kelley becomes head of the National Consumer's League.
Women Working, 1870-1930 includes digital editions of Kelley's publications and a brief overview of her life.

Kate Chopin's The Awakening is published.
Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening [PBS] includes a program transcript, a chronology, and online access to The Awakening and other works.



See also: Newspapers

The 19th-Century American Trade Card [online]. Available from:

Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920 [online]. [Durham, NC]: Digital Scriptorium, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, 2000 [cited 12 March 2001]. Available from:

It Cured Me! Victorian Trade Cards at Miami University [Miami University Libraries, 2001. Available from:
Victorian tradecards were used to advertise such products as patent medicines, thread, sewing machines, food and beverages, and farm equipment. This collection includes images of over 1400 cards.

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.

Women Working, 1800-1930 [online]. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Library Open Collections Program, 2004- [cited 21 November 2005]. Available from:
Select "Browse the Collection," then "Conduct of Life" to retrieve digital editions of books published from 1800 to 1930. Results display in reverse chronological order.

Census Data

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.

History of the U.S. Census Bureau and Its Work


The following digital collections group images of clothing by time period.

Bissonnette, Anne. Bissonnette on Costume: A Visual Dictionary of Fashion [online]. c1999. Available from: Select "Time Search."

Wisconsin Historical Museum Children's Clothing Collection [online]. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, updated 26 June 2001 [cited 10 December 2001]. Available from:

Print sources for the history of clothing/fashion during this period include:

Severa, Joan L. Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900. Kent, Ohio : Kent State University Press, c1995.

Manuscripts: Diaries & Letters

Johnson, Joan Marie, ed. Southern Women at Vassar: The Poppenheim Family Letters, 1882-1916. Women's Diaries and Letters of the South Series. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002.
H-Net Review by Monica Tetzlaff.


Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online (1841-1902) [online]. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Public Library, 2004 [cited 22 November 2005]. Available from:

Utah Digital Newspapers [online]. Salt Lake City: Marriott Library, University of Utah, 2002 [cited 12 February 2003]. Available from:


The American Jewess [1895-1899] was the first English-Language periodical to target American Jewish women.

Photograph Collections

Photographs of the Darlington Family, 1885-1888 [Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh].
This collection contains 114 photographs taken by Edith Dennison Darlington Ammon and her brother, O'Hara Darlington. Most of the photographs are taken in and around the family home in Pittsburgh.


Browse the Quilt Index by time period (e.g., "1876-1900")

The Quilts section of American Women's History: A Research Guide includes additional links to digital collections.

Secondary Sources

The database America: History & Life offers a simple option for limiting a search for articles and other sources to a specific time period. If you are searching for articles that cover 1880 to 1899, enter 1880d or 1890d in the "Time Period" row of the search screen. See America: History & Life: Searching by Time Period for an example using another time period.

American Women Through Time

Ken Middleton | Walker Library, MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN 37132