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


1861 Elizabeth Keckley becomes Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker.
See Keckley's Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House [Documenting the American South].

1861 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.

1861 Rose O'Neal Greenhow, a Confederate spy, is placed under house arrest.
Rose O'Neal Greenhow Papers [Duke University]. This site offers a selection of Greenhow's letters. Greenhow details her imprisonment in the Letter to the Hon. Wm. H. Seward, November 17, 1861.

1862 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.

1862 Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska opens the New England Hospital for Women and Children.
Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska (1829-1902) [Women Working, 1800-1930, Harvard University Library] offers a biographical profile, works by Zakrzewska, and annual reports from the New England Female Medical College.

1862 Homestead Act
See Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story from the National Park Service.

1862 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.

1862 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].

1863 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]

1864 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).

1865 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].

1865 Vassar College, chartered in 1861, welcomes its first group of students.
Vassar College Collections [Hudson River Valley Heritage]. This site includes early photographs of faculty, students, and buildings. The site also 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 (Library of Congress) notes the uses of college catalogs for various types of researchers, and uses Vassar's first catalog as an example.

1867 Caroline Healey Dall's The College, the Market, and the Court; or Woman's Relation to Education, Labor, and Law is published.
Helen R. Deese gives an overview of Dall's life and work in Caroline Healey Dall: Daughter of Boston [WGBH Forum Network; video].

1869 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.

1870 Sophia Smith Endows New Women's College, March 8, 1870 [Mass Moments, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities]
The Five College Archives Digital Access Project includes materials that document the founding, opening, and early history of Smith College.

1871 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].

1872 Susan B. Anthony is arrested and brought to trial for attempting to vote in the presidential election.
The Stanton and Anthony Papers Project Online includes excerpts from Anthony's letters in Snapshot Stories: Anthony's Illegal Vote.

1872 Victoria Woodhull is nominated as a presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party.
Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) [Women Working, 1800-1930, Harvard University Library] includes a biographical profile of Woodhull and digital editions of her works.
Preview Barbara Goldsmith's Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (HarperCollins, 1999).
Listen to the Fresh Air Interview with Barbara Goldsmith [National Public Radio, March 11, 1999].

1872 Winema Riddle works for peace during the Modoc War.
In Winema and the Modoc War: One Woman's Struggle for Peace, Rebecca Bales highlights Riddle's efforts to secure peace between her native Modocs and the United States Government.

1873 Ellen Swallow Richards becomes the first woman graduate of MIT.
Ellen Swallow Richards online exhibit from MIT Libraries.

1874 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.

1876 The National Woman Suffrage Association issues leaflet, Declaration and Protest of the Women of the United States by the National Woman Suffrage Association. July 4th, 1876 [An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera].

1876 Sculptor Edmonia Lewis completes The Death of Cleopatra.
Images of this and other works accompany the Smithsonian American Art Museum's biographical profile of Edmonia Lewis.

1876 Lydia E. Pinkham registers the label and trademark for Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound.
Harvard University Library's Visual Information Access database offers access to numerous images of Pinkham and examples of advertisements.
Listen to the Morning Edition [National Public Radio] segment, Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound [Time: 6:36].

1878 Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: Petition of Amelia Bloomer Regarding Suffrage in the West [U.S. National Archives & Records Administration]

1879 Belva Lockwood becomes the first woman admitted to the Supreme Court bar.
Read Jill Norgren's article, Belva Lockwood: Blazing the Trail for Women in Law, in Prologue [Spring 2005].

1879 Frances Willard is elected president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
Preview Let Something Good Be Said: Speeches and Writings of Frances E. Willard (University of Illinois Press, 2007). Highlights from this collection include Willard's first presidential address before WCTU members (1880), articles from the WCTU's newsletter (1881-1883), and her address before the National Council of Women (1891).
Willard is featured in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

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

1879 Mary Baker Eddy founds the First Church of Christ Scientist.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity offers a collection of photographs, early family letters, and an overview of revisions to Eddy's major work, Science and Health.
Preview Gillian Gill's biography, Mary Baker Eddy (Da Capo Press, 1999).



See also: Newspapers

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:

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.

Artifacts 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.

Browse the Quilt Index by time period (e.g., "1850-1875").

First-Person Accounts

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

American Women's Letters and Diaries: A Bibliography lists WorldCat records for books that include first-hand accounts written by women during this time period.

Historical Statistics

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.


Newspapers section of American Women's History: A Research Guide for additional information sources.

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:

Explore Further

The database America: History & Life offers a simple option for limiting a search for articles and other sources to a specific time period. 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