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


1881 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.

1881 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.

1881 Alice Fletcher begins a six-week camping trip on the Sioux Reservation in Dakota Territory.

Image Credit: Alice Cunningham Fletcher as a young woman. Photograph by Ormsbee's First National Gallery, New York (National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution)

Camping with the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher [National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution]
This site includes Fletcher's diary from the fall of 1881, a biographical profile of Fletcher, a photo gallery, and a collection of Sioux folktales that Fletcher recorded.
Preview Joan Mark's A Stranger in Her Native Land: Alice Fletcher and the American Indians (University of Nebraska Press, 1989).

1881 Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross.
The Clara Barton National Historic Site [National Park Service] provides a small collection of primary sources, including photographs and the 1878 publication The Red Cross of the Geneva Convention: What It Is.
Preview Elizabeth Brown Pryor's Clara Barton: Professional Angel (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988).

1882 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.

1882 The Chinese Exclusion Act restricts Chinese immigration to the United States.
Chinese Exclusion Act, part of Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 [Harvard University Library], offers an overview of the act and access to more than 60 relevant documents.
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.

1882 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 

1883 Sarah Winnemucca's Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (Google Book Search) is the first book written by a Native American woman.
Preview Sally Zanjani's Sarah Winnemucca (University of Nebraska Press, 2001). Winnemucca is featured in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

1884 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.

1885 Sharpshooter Annie Oakley begins touring with "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West Show.
Preview Glenda Riley's The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley (University of Oklahoma Press, 1994).
American Experience: Annie Oakley includes information about the film, a gallery of posters from the Wild West Show, a timeline, and more.
Ohio Memory includes digital copies of a few photos of Oakley and a letter from Cody.

1886 Mormon women protest the pending Edmunds-Tucker bill.
Mormon Women's Protest 1886 (Gilder Lehrman Institue of American History) includes background information and a transcript of the pamphlet, "Mormon" Women Protest: An Appeal for Freedom, Justice and Equal Rights.

1887 Anne Sullivan begins teaching Helen Keller.
Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker [American Federation for the Blind offers an illustrated overview of Sullivan's life and work. See in particular Sullivan's letters in which she describes her work with Keller.

1887 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.

1887 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).

1889 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:

1889 Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Flood
Johnstown Flood National Memorial

1889 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.

1889 Susan La Flesche Picotte becomes the first Native American woman medical doctor.

1890 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.

1890 National American Woman Suffrage Association is formed.
See Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921

1890 Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming publishes Draper Catalogue of Stellar Spectra.
Williamina Paton Fleming (1857-1911) includes a biographical profile, Fleming's journal from 1900, and a small selection of photographs from 1891.

1891 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.

1892 Anna Julia Cooper's A Voice from the South is published.
An Electronic edition of A Voice from the South is available from Documenting the American South.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivers her "Solitude of Self" address to the Congressional Judiciary Committee.
The text from Solitude of Self is part of the PBS site, Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

1892 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.

1892 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.

1892 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.

1892 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.

1893 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.

1895 Draft of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible, ca. 1895 (Library of Congress).
See Kathi Kern's Mrs. Stanton's Bible (Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 2001). Find in a Library.

1895 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."
Preview Always a Sister: The Feminism of Lillian D. Wald (Feminist Press, 1989) by Doris Daniels.

1896 Amy Beach's "Gaelic" Symphony
Preview Adrienne Fried Block's Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian: The Life and Work of an American Composer (Oxford University Press, 1998).

1896 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]

1896 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."

1896 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.

1897 Clara Driscoll begins her third, and most creative, tenure at Tiffany Studios.

Image Credit: Dragonfly Table lamp, c. 1900-1906 (Collection of the New-York Historical Society, N84.113)

A search for Clara Driscoll in New York Historical Society's online museum catalog retrieves more than 50 additional digital images of lamps designed by Driscoll.
The New York Historical Society's exhibition, A New Light on Tiffany, highlights Driscoll's designs and the work of the Women's Glass Cutting Department. Additional information about Driscoll and the exhibition is available in the New York Times article, Out of Tiffany's Shadow: A Woman of Light.

1898 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).

1898 Spanish-American War
See Mercedes Graf's article, Band of Angels: Sister Nurses in the Spanish-American War, Part 1.

1899 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).

1899 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.

1899 Frances Benjamin Johnston photographs students at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia.
Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection [Library of Congress] A search for Hampton Institute retrieves 78 images.

1899 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.

Census of Population and Housing offers detailed reports from past censuses, including 1880, 1890, and 1900.


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")

American Women Through Time

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