Women: position and progress collection
Scope and Contents
The Women: Position and Progress Collection contains manuscript and published material, including books dating from the early nineteenth century. It documents both dominant attitudes about middle- and upper-class women's roles and gender-conscious women's and men's efforts to expand and overturn those roles, and illustrates the impact of such efforts on women's status and position in Western societies. The collection consists primarily of published sources such as articles, printed lectures and sermons, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets; but also includes a significant amount of unusual and unique material such as household bills and inventories, letters, lists, and notes.
About half the material in the collection dates from the nineteenth century. The bulk of material consists of articles, books, and pamphlets that reflect the widely divergent views about women's roles that made "the woman question" such a visible and contentious issue in this period. Prescriptive literature, such as advice books with titles such as How the Good Wife Taught Her Daughter, and The Young Bride's Book, and an assortment of printed lectures and sermons clearly illustrate the power and prevalence of traditional assumptions about women's "natural" maternalism and domesticity. Emerging arguments about the need for women's equality and women's rights are also well-represented in the older segment of the collection by articles from magazines and newspapers, pamphlets, and printed lectures. A few examples of personal letters, household bills, and lists of house rules for servants from a Worcester, Massachusetts home provide a small glimpse into the realities of daily life for upper- middle- and working-class women during the 1830s-80s.
The twentieth century material reflects a similar range of opinions about women's social, political, and economic roles, and documents the dramatic shifts in women's status over the last hundred years. Anti-feminist attitudes are primarily represented in a variety of articles and essays from both scholarly and popular publications. Feminist points of view as expressed in magazine and newspaper articles, scholarly essays, and speeches are far more evident in twentieth century material. Unusual items from the twentieth century includes a typewritten outline of the history of the women's movement in the U.S. compiled in 1944 by Mary Williams, a professor at Goucher College; a few personal letters; and a toy catalog which probably dates from the 1940s or 1950s.
Dates of Materials
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.
3.709 linear feet (7 containers)
Collection contains manuscripts and published material, including books dating from the early nineteenth century. The collection consists primarily of published sources such as lectures, sermons, and printed material; but also includes a significant amount of unusual and unique material such as household bills and inventories, letters, lists, and notes.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Materials in this "artificial" subject collection were either purchased or given to the Sophia Smith Collection by various donors. Some items may have been removed from other collections.
Finding aid revised in 2010. Introductory text by Kate Weigand.
- Etiquette for women
- Manners and customs -- Handbooks, manuals, etc
- Middle class women -- Attitudes
- Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History
- Women -- Conduct of life
- Women -- Periodicals
- Women -- Sexual behavior
- Women -- Social and moral questions
- Women's rights -- 19th century
- Women's rights -- 20th century
- Women: position and progress collection
- Finding Aid
- Finding aid prepared by mnsss.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2005-09-23: mnsss119 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
- 2017-07-26T17:48:10-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063