American Women's History: A Research Guide
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Reference/Primary Sources Featured Online Exhibit

"She is More to be Pitied Than Censured"
Brown University Library, Providence, R.I.
Available from

This exhibit explores "sexual scandals and murders
in 19th century America that involved women
in a significant way: as victims, as perpetrators,
or as involved bystanders."


Conaway, Frank, and Sem Sutter, comp. Women's Studies: Guide to Sources for Lesbian Studies [online]. Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 1999 [cited 30 June 2000]. Available from:

Eder, Franz X. Bibliography of the History of Western Sexuality, 1700-1945 [online]. 2002 [19 June 2002]. Available from:
This extensive bibliography (16,600 records) of primary and secondary literature includes an option to limit a search by region (e.g., "USA").

Huls, Mary Ellen. United States Government Documents on Women, 1800-1900: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Vol 1, Social Issues. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Four chapters in this bibliography are applicable: "Fertility and Maternity," "Federal Maternal Health Programs," "Birth Control and Abortion," and "Illegitimacy and Adolescent Pregnancy."

Moore, Gloria, and Ronald Moore. Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement: A Bibliography, 1911-1984.. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1986. 211p.

Parker, Kathleen R. Women, Sexuality, and Morality in the U.S. in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era 1996 [cited 4 November 1996]. Available from:

Sahli, Nancy Ann. Women and Sexuality in America: A Bibliography. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1984. 404p.

Searing, Susan. Lesbian Studies: A Reading List. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin System Women's Studies Librarian's Office, 1990.

Thomas, Wendy, comp. Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Women Bibliography [online]. [Cambridge, Mass.]: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, 1996 [cited 4 July 1998]. Available from:

Biographical Sources

Tyrkus, Michael, and Michael Bronski, eds. Gay and Lesbian Biography. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997. 515p.

Historical Overviews

D'Emilio, John, and Estelle B. Freedman. Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America. New York: Harper & Row, c1988. 428p.

Cott, Nancy F., ed. History of Women in the United States: Historical Articles on Women's Lives and Activities. Vol. 9, Prostitution; vol. 10, Sexuality and Sexual Behavior; vol. 11, Women's Bodies: Health and Childbirth. Munich: Saur, 1993.

Journals and Newsletters

Journal of the History of Sexuality []

Networking Tools


Primary Sources: Archival Collections

Note that the general section, Archival & Manuscript Collections, describes additional information sources.

Gilfoyle, Timothy J. "Prostitutes in the Archives: Problems and Possibilities in Documenting the History of Sexuality." American Archivist 57 (Summer 1994): 514-27.

Lavender Legacies: Guide to Sources in North America [online]. [Chicago]: Society of American Archivists, Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable, 1998. Available from:

Specific Repositories

Human Sexuality Collection, Cornell []

Lesbian Herstory Archives []

McKay, Diane, and Ginny Daley, comps. History of Sexuality: Resources in the Special Collections Library at Duke University [online]. August 1995 [cited 10 June 1997]. Available from:

Retter, Yolanda. Lesbian History Project: Archives and Oral History Collections That Have Lesbian Materials [online]. 1996 [cited 4 November 1996]. Available from:

Search by Subject [online]. Iowa City: Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, January 1997 [cited 14 June 2000]. Available from:
See "Abortion and/or Reproductive Rights," "Lesbians and gays," and "Rape laws."

Primary Sources: Digital Collections

Dublin, Thomas, and Kathryn Kish Sklar. Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1830-1930 [online]. 1997- [cited 4 May 2001]. Available from:
This collection of primary source documents is organized around numerous topical areas. Each of these different sections includes an introduction to provide context, and an annotated bibliography. The following section documents sexuality:

The Margaret Sanger Papers: Margaret Sanger and The Woman Rebel
Sanger's publication of the feminist journal The Woman Rebel in 1914 established her as the key leader in the birth control movement. This collection includes digital images of pages from the journal, letters to and from Sanger, and more.

Primary Sources: Microform Collections

Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance Archives, ca. 1972-1994. Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm, 2002- .

Lesbian Herstory Archives Subject Files. Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm, 2004- .

Margaret Sanger Papers: The Smith College Collections. Bethesda, Md: University Publications of America, 1994.
Online guide to the collection:

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Records, 1973-2000 from the Holdings of the Human Sexuality Collection, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, New York. Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm, 2001- .

Women's Studies Manuscript Collections from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. Series 3: Sexuality, Sex Education and Reproductive Rights. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 1994.
Online guides to the collection: Part A and Part B
Review: Microform Review 24 (Summer 1995): 153-55.

Primary Sources: Selected Books

Devins, Neal, and Wendy L. Watson, eds. Federal Abortion Politics: A Documentary History. 3 vols. Garland, 1996.

Katz, Jonathon, ed. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.: A Documentary. New York: Harper and Row, 1976.

------. Gay/Lesbian Almanac. New York: Harper and Row, 1983.

Rubin, Eva R., ed. The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Talking About Women's History

Bailey, Beth. Sex in the Heartland [interview online]. Interviewed by Fred Nielsen. Talking History, 30 September 2002. Available from:

Sable, Charles. Sex in Advertising [Interview online]. Talking History, 7 October 2002. Available from:

A Year in the Life: Beginning the Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Albany New York, 1987-88 [online]. Produced by Stephanie Madnick. Talking History, 29 June 2000. Available from:

Additional Internet Sites

Retter, Yolanda. Lesbian History Project: Links to Lesbian History [online]. 1996 [cited 4 November 1996]. Available from:

American Women's History: A Research Guide

Ken Middleton
Todd Library, Middle Tennessee State University