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Collection National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

About this Collection

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) Collection is a library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign that were collected between 1890 and 1938 by members of NAWSA and donated to the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress on November 1, 1938.

The bulk of the collection is derived from the library of Carrie Chapman Catt, president of NAWSA from 1900-1904, and again from 1915-1920. Additional materials were donated to the NAWSA Collection from the libraries of other members and officers, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Alice Stone Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Smith Miller, and Mary A. Livermore.

The collection consists of a variety of materials including newspapers, books, pamphlets, memorials, scrapbooks, and proceedings from the meetings of various women's organizations that document the suffrage fight. The collection is divided into sixteen sections which is in accordance to NAWSA's original organization:

  • Reliable Sources on the Woman Movement
  • Brief Biographies
  • Woman and Work
  • Women and War
  • Sociology and Ethics concerning Women
  • The Evolution of Woman
  • The Woman Suffrage Campaign
  • Biographies of Women
  • Women and the Law
  • Parenthood and Related Subjects
  • Prostitution
  • Women and Costumology
  • Women and Clubs
  • Letters, Poems, Novels, Humor
  • Opposition to Woman Suffrage
  • Scrapbooks

Currently, the online collection offers 1,935 digitized items. Selection was based with a number of user groups in mind: students at both the high school and college levels interested in developing a basic understanding of the suffrage movement; teachers of courses at these levels; and advanced scholars engaged in research. In all cases, materials were selected that best represented the NAWSA organization and its place in the woman suffrage campaign.

Users should note that the collection mirrors the biases of NAWSA's membership. For the most part, it represents the concerns of well-educated, middle- and upper-class white women living in the North, and especially in New England. There is little in the collection to document the role of Southern women or women of color. Working-class women receive a slightly larger share of attention, but, for the most part, the collection details the experiences of the affluent white women who formed the suffrage campaign's leadership cadre.