By AUDREY FISCHER
"American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States" is the newest presentation on the Library's American Memory Web site at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/.
Diane Kresh, director for the Library's Public Service Collections, announced the availability of the site at a June symposium titled "Resourceful Women: Researching and Interpreting American Women's History."
"The formal launch of the site today celebrates not only the completion of a major undertaking, but also the beginning of a new chapter in the Library's commitment to the field of American women's history," declared Kresh. "Building this Web site was a massive collaborative effort that involved dozens of Library staff members … throughout the institution," she added.
The Web site development team was led by Barbara Natanson of the Prints and Photographs Division and Dominique Pickett of Information Technology Services. Staff in the Office of Strategic Initiatives and in Library Services provided guidance in making the site a presentation of American Memory.
Designed as the Library's first stop for researchers studying U.S. women's history, the new site contains an expanded and fully searchable version of the print publication "American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States," revised and reformatted for Web use. The guide was published in December 2001 by the Library in cooperation with the University Press of New England.
In restructuring the 456-page book and nearly 300 illustrations for online access, a team of Library subject and format specialists worked with Library Web design and programming experts to preserve the guide's original organization by custodial division while simultaneously enhancing the reader's ability to move across the Library's multiformat and interdisciplinary holdings.
The site's gateway functions include links to existing and newly created Web documents that offer practical advice on preparing to do research at the Library; tips on how to search the Library's catalogs and finding aids specifically for women's history resources; an overview of American Memory and how to find materials relating to women in its digital collections; and instructions for locating women's history sources in the Library's online exhibitions and Web broadcasts.
In addition to linking to hundreds of digitized items throughout the Library's collections, the initial release of the "American Women" gateway site includes a new interdivisional sampling of the Library's women's history resources. This selection of 36 items includes 14 books, pamphlets and periodicals; 13 pieces of sheet music; two atlases; six manuscripts; and one sound recording.
The digital images highlighted on the site range from documents from the collections of well-known women such as Civil War nurse Clara Barton and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger to more obscure materials like Mary Ringo's diary of her 1864 trip across the Great Plains.
Foreign-language items are also included, such as a 1913 Yiddish operetta titled "Chantshe in Amerika" and an Italian-language newspaper account of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
"The ‘American Women' site will continue to evolve and grow," said Kresh, "as new subject approaches to women are explored, additional items and collections on women are identified and digitized, and new programs on women's themes are videotaped for public broadcasting over the Internet."
Audrey Fischer is a public affairs specialist in the Public Affairs Office.