International Women’s Day celebration: resources for women’s history

In celebration of today’s International Women’s Day, here is a special plug for

British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries (BWLD)

Available to Oxford users, the BWLD includes the immediate experiences of 430 women, as revealed in approximately 80,000 pages of diaries and letters. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before.  Each source has been carefully chosen using leading bibliographies.–The collection also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database.

Nice features: browse by historical event (e.g. Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945) or personal event (e.g. sstarting job):

Sunday July 4. [1915]

This is a truly awful place! My first day was something terrific. In the morning down came a sheef of 13 diet sheets one to each ward. I tried my best to puzzle them out, …

from West, Gabrielle, fl. 1914-1917, Diary of Gabrielle West, July, 1915, in World War I Diary of Miss G. West. Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2004, pp. 212. Location of mss: Imperial War Museum, London.

Other databases of interest for women’s history:

Defining Gender, 1450-1910

Approximately 50,000 images of original documents relating to Gender Studies. The images will be sourced from about ten different libraries and archives around the world, including a strong core of document images from the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

The Gerritsen Collection (Women’s History Online, 1543-1945)

In the late 1800s, Dutch physician Aletta Jacobs and her husband C.V. Gerritsen began collecting books and periodicals reflecting the evolution of a feminist consciousness and women’s rights. By the time their successors finished their work in 1945, The Gerritsen Collection was the greatest single source for the study of women’s history in the world, with materials spanning four centuries and fifteen languages. This online resource delivers two million page images exactly as they appeared in the original printed works. Users can trace the evolution of feminism within a single country, as well as the impact of one country’s movement on those of the others. In many cases, it also provides easy access to primary sources otherwise available only in a few rare book rooms.

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries

This is the largest collection of women’s diaries and correspondence ever assembled. Spanning more than 300 years, this database brings the personal experiences of some 1,325 women to researchers, students, and general readers.

The collection includes some 150,000 pages of published letters and diaries from individuals writing from Colonial times to 1950, including more than 6,000 pages of previously unpublished materials. Drawn from more than 600 sources, including journal articles, pamphlets, newsletters, monographs, and conference proceedings, much of the material is in copyright. Represented are all age groups and life stages, all ethnicities, many geographical regions, the famous and the not so famous. It includes some 300 biographies to enhance the use of the database.

Orlando: Women’s writings in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present

Orlando provides entries on authors’ lives and writing careers, contextual material, timelines, sets of internal links, and bibliographies. Interacting with these materials creates a dynamic inquiry from any number of perspectives into centuries of women’s writing.

Women Writers Online

The Brown University Women Writers Project is a long-term research project devoted to early modern women’s writing and electronic text encoding. Their aim is to bring texts by pre-Victorian women writers out of the archive and make them accessible to a wide audience of teachers, students, scholars, and the general reader.


Check out our bookmarked webpages for women’s history on HFL Delicious. There’s much there so why not give us suggestions what else to bookmark?

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