American Women's History: A Timeline
Civil War & Reconstruction
Home Page | Last Update: 8/17/2005

The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania opens.

Fugitive Slave Law The ARC database from the National Archives includes Selected Documents Relating to Fugitive Slaves, 1837 - 1860 and Fugitive Slave Case Papers, 1850 - 1860 and Petitions Filed Under the Fugitive Slave Act (Fugitive Slave Petition Book), 1850-1860. See the Search Hints before using the site.


Hedrick, Joan. Uncle Tom's Cabin [Interview online]. Talking History, 25 February 2002. Available from:
Hedrick won the Pulitzer Prize for Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life (Oxford University Press, 1994).

Scholars in Action: Analyze Abolitionist Speeches [online]. In History Matters. Fairfax, VA: Center for History and New Media; New York : American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, 1998- [cited 24 March 2005]. Available from:
Historian Carla Peterson interprets speeches by Sojourner Truth (1852) and Frances Watkins Harper (1857).

Property Rights, part of the Library of Virginia's Working Out Her Destiny exhibit, reproduces the letter that Nancy Polk sent to Virginia's governor. Polk wanted clarification of her property rights.

Harriet Wilson's Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black is published.
In Beyond Mortal Vision: Harriet Wilson, P. Gabrielle Foreman and Reginald H. Pitts discuss recently discovered information about Wilson's life.
Format: Video; time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Martha J. Coston patents a night signal flare in her husband's name.
Martha J. Coston is featured in the Enterprising Women: 250 Years of American Business.

Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is published. Read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl [Documenting the American South].

Harriet Jacobs: Selected Writings and Correspondence [Gilder Lehrman Center] offers 15 documents, including an advertisement for the capture of Harriet Jacobs (1835), letters from Jacobs, and a contemporary review of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War, part of the Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans series from the National Park Service.

Homestead Act
See Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story from the National Park Service.

Julia Ward Howe writes the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
See Battle hymn of the Republic from the America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets online collection.

Letter, Mary Todd Lincoln to Abraham Lincoln advising her husband to remove the hesitant Gen. George B. McClellan from command, 2 November [1862]. In Words and Deeds in American History [Library of Congress].

The Navajo Nation's Own 'Trail of Tears' [All Things Considered, National Public Radio, June 14, 2005]
Fort Sumner State Monument [New Mexico State Monuments]

Sand Creek Massacre leaves at least 150 Cheyennes and Arapahos dead.
Read Christine Whitacre's article The Search for the Site of the Sand Creek Massacre in Prologue (Summer 2002).

Letter (pages 13-20), Varina Davis to Montgomery Blair describing the capture of her husband, Jefferson Davis, 6 June 1865. In Words and Deeds in American History [Library of Congress].

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), and Lucy Stone helps found the more moderate American Woman Suffrage Association.


The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory [online]. [Chicago, Ill.]: Chicago Historical Society and the Trustees of Northwestern University, 1996. Available from:
The "Web of Memory" section includes eyewitness recollections of the 1871 fire by nine women.

Historian Maureen Flanagan describes the roles of women in the relief effort. These videos are part of site, Illinois During the Gilded Age [Northern Illinois University Libraries].

Victoria Woodhull testifies before Congress...
Interview with Barbara Goldsmith, author of Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull [Fresh Air, National Public Radio, March 11, 1999].
A political cartoon of Woodhull appears in Ohio Memory


Comstock Law prohibits the distribution of information or devices relating to abortion or birth control.
Marriage, Women, and the Law includes documents from New York University Law Library that document the federal and state Comstock laws.

Emma Spaulding Bryant Letters: An Online Archival Collection [online]. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Libraries. Available from:

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union is founded.
See Ohio Memory for numerous sources that document the temperance movement, including the "Women's National Temperance Convention Address and Plan of Work" that was written by Martha McClellan Brown for the 1874 convention.

Patent model of Margaret Knight's machine for making paper bags, 1879 is featured in Legacies [Smithsonian Institution]

Daily Life During This Time Period

Hudson River Valley Heritage includes the diary of Christine Ladd-Franklin, Vassar College Class of 1869. The diary covers the years 1866 to 1873, and describes her experience as a Vassar student, the challenges of financing her education, and her early years of teaching before beginning her graduate work in mathematics.

American Women's History: A Timeline

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