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


1802 James Callender writes in the Richmond Recorder that Thomas Jefferson "keeps, and for many years past has kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves. Her name is SALLY."
See the Booknotes Interview with Annette Gordon-Reed, author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings: An American Controversy.

Jefferson's Blood: Thomas Jefferson, His Slave & Mistress Sally Hemings, Their Descendents, and the Mysterious Power of Race [online]. [Boston, Mass.]: WGBH/Boston, 2000.
This companion site to the PBS Frontline series includes Interiews with Joseph Ellis, Annette Gordon-Reed, Lucia Cinder Stanton, and Dr. Eugene Foster.

1803 The Newark Female Charitable Society is organized.
Hannah Kinney's Records of the Newark Female Charitable Society, 1803-1804

1804 Sacagawea begins serving as a guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Search the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Online for passages that mention Sacagawea.

1809 Elizabeth Ann Seton begins the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Blessed Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton Resources [Seton Hall University Libraries] includes a biographical profile, detailed timeline, and a bibliography.

1813 Ann Hasseltine Judson begins missionary work with her husband, Adoniram Judson, in Burma.
See Judson's An Account of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire: Letters [Google Book Search]

1813 Mary Pickersgill is commissioned to produce two large flags for Fort McHenry. The larger flag, the Star-Spangled Banner, measures 30 feet by 42 feet.
Making of the Flag, part of the Star-Spangled Banner Web Site (National Museum of American History), includes images of the receipt given to Mary Pickersgill by the U.S. Army and a copy of the letter in which Pickersgill's daughter told how her mother "worked many nights until 12 o'clock to complete [the flag] in the given time."

1813 Pennsylvania v. Addicks introduces the concept of "the best interests of the child" in custody cases.
An overview of Pennsylvania v. Addicks, taken from Women's Rights on Trial (Gale, 1996), is available online.

1814 Letter From Dolley Payne Madison to Anna Cutts, 23 August 1814 (Dolley Madison Project)
Preview Catherine Allgor's A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation (Henry Holt, 2006).

1815 Family or Freedom, part of the Library of Virginia's Working Out Her Destiny exhibit, uses two petitions from 1815 to illustrate the effects of an 1806 law that required freed slaves to leave the state within one year.

1816 Abuse and Independence, part of the Library of Virginia's Working Out Her Destiny exhibit, reproduces the 1816 petition of Ann Pierce Parker Cowper for divorce from William Cowper.

1819 Rebecca Gratz helps establish the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society.
The Women of Valor exhibit from the Jewish Women's Archive provides a wealth of information about the Gratz, including her role in establishing the Society.


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 (e.g., 1800-1809).

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.


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


Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project [online]. East Lansing: Michigan State University Library and Michigan State University Museum, 2001- [cited 25 February 2002]. Available from: The site provides background information about each cookbook, digital images of the pages of each cookbook, and an impressive collection of museum objects. Researchers can Browse the Collection by Date. Includes several titles from 1803-1808.

Diaries & Letters

Many academic libraries offer access to the commercial digital collection, North American Women's Letters & Diaries. This collection offers numerous search options, including the ability to search by "year written." See a brief tutorial on searching this collection by time period.

Gratz, Rebecca. Letters of Rebecca Gratz. Edited by David Philipson. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1929. Also available online:

Martha Ballard's Diary Online [DoHistory]
Ballard, a Maine midwife, wrote in her diary almost every day from January 1, 1785 to May 12, 1812.

Samuel & Sarah Wait Collection [Wake Forest University Library] includes Sarah [Sally] Wait's journal from 1815 to 1817.

To Read My Heart: The Journal of Rachel Van Dyke, 1810-1811. Edited by Lucia McMahon and Deborah Schriver. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
Reviewed in The Book (p. 5-6) by Betsy Homsher.
Reviewed in H-SHEAR by Sharon Braslaw Sundue.

Washington in 1809 -- A Pen Picture. Diary of Sarah Ridg [Library of Congress]


Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876 [Database Online]. Chester, Vt.: Readex, 2004- .
Check with your academic library to determine if you have access to this commercial database.


Browse the Quilt Index by time period (e.g., "1800-1849")

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 1800 to 1820, enter 1800d or 1810d 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
Middle Tennessee State Univ. Library
Murfreesboro, TN 37132