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Collection National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

About this Collection


About the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) Collection is a library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign. They 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 complete collection consists of a variety of materials--newspapers, books, pamphlets, memorials, scrapbooks, and proceedings from the meetings of various women's organizations--documenting the suffrage fight. When the Library of Congress acquired the collection from Carrie Chapman Catt in 1938, it was divided into sixteen sections, with individual items being assigned both an accession number and an item number within its particular section. The sixteen sections are as follows:

  1. Reliable Sources on the Woman Movement
  2. Brief Biographies
  3. Woman and Work
  4. Women and War
  5. Sociology and Ethics concerning Women
  6. The Evolution of Woman
  7. The Woman Suffrage Campaign
  8. Biographies of Women
  9. Women and the Law
  10. Parenthood and Related Subjects
  11. Prostitution
  12. Women and Costumology
  13. Women and Clubs
  14. Letters, Poems, Novels, Humor
  15. Opposition to Woman Suffrage
  16. Scrapbooks

The Rare Book Division has maintained the collection according to NAWSA's original organization, and researchers can request items by using the same numbers assigned in the Deed of Gift. When the cataloging of the collection began, it was renamed from its original title of the Carrie Chapman Collection to its current name as the NAWSA Collection--a title that more accurately identifies the collection's contents.

The materials in the collection amount to approximately 65,683 pages and can be broken down as follows:

Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37,382
Memorials . . . . . . . . . . . . 278
Pamphlets . . . . . . . . . . . 4,165
Proceedings/Reports . . . 2,058
Serials . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21,800
TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . 65,683

This online selection was based on 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.


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