American Women's History: A Research Guide
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Please note that this section is in the initial stages of development.


Hawes, Joseph M., and Elizabeth Nybakken, eds. American Families: A Research Guide and Historical Handbook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1991.
This work provides an overview of scholarship about family history. "Women and Families" follows five chapters about different time periods; the final three chapters focus on African-American, Native American, and immigrant working class families. Each chapter ends with a useful bibliography.

Historical Overviews

Cott, Nancy. Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Hartog, Hendrik. Man and Wife in America: A History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Primary Sources: Archival Collections

See the general Archives & Manuscript Collections section for additional information sources.

Bouricius, Clara, and Laura Cochrane. Marriage and Coverture [online]. In Women, Enterprise and Society: A Guide to Resources in the Business Manuscripts Collection at Baker Library. Boston: Baker Library, Harvard Business School, 2002 [cited 27 February 2002]. Available from:

Catanese, Lynn Ann. Women's History: A Guide to Sources at Hagley Museum and Library. Greenwood Press, 1997.
See the index for coverage of "Marriage" and "Weddings."

Search by Subject [online]. Iowa City: Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, January 1997 [cited 14 June 2000]. Available from: See "Divorce," "Domestic Violence," "Family Papers," "Farmers and farm wives," and "Spousal Abuse/spousal legislation."

Primary Sources: Digital Collections

Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive [online]. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2003.
Includes correspondence between John and Abigail Adams.

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

Marriage, Women, and the Law [Mountain View, Calif.]: Research Libraries Group, 1996-1998. Available from:
This site provides access to various types of primary sources (statutes, case reports, diaries & letters) that support research on such topics as marriage, divorce, adultery, miscegenation, polygamy, and birth control.

Photo Database & Virtual Gallery [online]. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Public Library, n.d. [cited 25 February 2002]. Available from:
Excellent source for photographs of weddings that illustrate different cultural traditions.

The Photography Collection [online]. Denver, CO: Denver Public Library, 1995- . Available from:
The 80,000 images in this collection document the history of Colorado and the American West. Appropriate search terms include spouses (over 200 records), couples, and weddings.

Commercial Digital Collections

North American Women's Letters and Diaries. Alexandria, Va.: Alexander Street Press, 2001- . Overview from the publisher.
The "Personal Events" section provides quick access to documents that pertain to such topics as courtship, death of a spouse, physical illness of a spouse, or the spouse's absence.

Primary Sources: Microform Collections

Judith Sargent Murray Papers. Jackson, Miss. : Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History, 1989. 7 microfilm reels.
An excellent overview of this collection can be found in Sheila L. Skemp, "The Judith Sargent Murray Papers," Journal of Mississippi History 53 (1991): 241-50. Skemp devotes several pages to Murray's views on marriage and family life.

Primary Sources: Selected Books

Talking About Women's History

Cott, Nancy. Public Vows [Interview online]. Talking History, 24 September 2001. Available from:
Cott discusses the government's influence on the institution of marriage.

Marriage Series pt.1 - What is Marriage For? [online]. Hosted by Ray Suarez. Talk of the Nation. National Public Radio, 13 July 1999.
Suarez discusses the history of marriage with historian Nancy Cott and psychologist Susan McDaniel.

Mintz, Steven. The American Family [Interview online]. Talking History, 17 September 2001. Available from:

American Women's History: A Research Guide

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