Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Saturday, May 17, 2014

ANN: Women and Social Movement Websites

From the WSM newsletter: 

With the April 2014 issue we are publishing a new Document Project, the second half of a Document Archive, and we are launching the publication of our Black Woman Suffragists database, complemented by a strong array of book reviews, teaching tools, and News from the Archives. 

Melanie Gustafson is the author and editor of a document archive, "Maud Wood Park Archive: The Power of Organization," part 1 of which we published last fall and part 2 appears in this issue. Together the two parts include more than 140 documents, principally from the Schlesinger Library and the Library of Congress. Park was a key player in the winning strategy of the National American Woman Suffrage Association that secured passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. After 1920 she served as the first president of the League of Women Voters. The documents collected here illuminate the history of the organized women's movement in the United States between 1910 and 1950. They are particularly valuable to understanding the founding of the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College, organized originally around the Women's Rights Collection, which consisted principally at first of the papers of NAWSA and Maud Wood Park. Beth Robinson has authored the document project, "How Did the League of Women Shoppers Use Their Privilege to Act in Solidarity with Workers, 1935-1948?" which explores a Popular Front organization that was active from 1935 until 1949, when red-baiting forced the organization to disband.

League members recognized that because women did the majority of family shopping, they wielded considerable influence. Through its slogan, "Use your buying power for justice," the League sought to mobilize middle-class and wealthy women as socially active consumers, reaching a membership of 25,000 in cities as diverse as San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Atlanta.Robinson constructs the answer to her framing question by tapping records of a number of urban branches of the League.

We publish in this issue the first installment of the Black Woman Suffragists database, which is the result of almost five years of work. Based on the pioneering scholarship by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, this collection consists of 1,200 items totaling more than 12,000 pages. Tom Dublin and a team of students have assembled these published and unpublished writings of sixty Black woman suffragists first identified by Terborg-Penn. The writings are accompanied by an introduction by Terborg-Penn and eighteen scholarly essays that treat major authors in the group. We expect to publish these writings and scholarly essays in five chronological installments from March 2014 to March 2016. This first installment, available online now, includes more than 150 items totaling more than 1,600 pages.

We are planning a new crowdsourcing initiative to accompany the publication of the Black Woman Suffragists database. If you are aware of significant writings by any of our author activists that we have not included in the database, please email Tom Dublin at and we will endeavor to publish the documents in later installments. Our goal is to make this database the most authoritative source for the published and unpublished writings of Black woman suffragists.

We round out this issue with other valuable resources, including ten book reviews, News from the Archives, and three Teaching Tools. If you are interested in reviewing books or have titles to recommend for review, please email our new book review editor, Kathleen Laughlin ( ) Please note as well the announcements in the News from the Archives section, assembled by Tanya Zanish-Belcher, of Wake Forest University. If you would like to make an archives-related announcement in a future issue, she can be reached at

Meanwhile, we hope you have had a chance to view our other online digital archive, Women and Social Movements, International—1840 to Present. Since January 2011 we have published six installments of this new archive, which is now complete with150,000 pages of primary documents. It includes both published and manuscript materials generated by women's participation in international conferences and organizations over a period of 170 years, from missionary and abolitionist activities in the first half of the nineteenth century to women's NGO activism in the early twenty-first century. We have also published twenty-five secondary articles by scholars working in fields related to the sources in the archive. These essays place the primary materials within a broader interpretive context and offer suggestions on how best to use these online resources. Finally, we have posted on the database videos of seven oral history interviews with activists from the UN Women’s Conferences held between Mexico city in 1975 and Beijing in 1995. These activists also participated in two stimulating sessions at the 2011 Berkshire Conference on Women’s History and videos of those sessions are also available on WASM International.

Alexander Street Press is making this resource available to libraries through subscription or purchase plans. Your acquisitions librarian might be interested in one of these options. He or she should contact Eileen Lawrence ( at Alexander Street Press for subscription information and/or to request a free trial of Women and Social Movements International. Please let us know your reactions to Women and Social Movements International.

FUTURE ISSUES of WASM: Future document projects in our pipeline include:

• The Prison Letters of Angela Davis
• Protestant Women and Japanese Incarceration during World War II
• The Around-the-World Trip of Carrie Chapman Catt and Aletta Jacobs, 1911-12
• Women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
• The Progressive activism of Victoria Earle Matthews
• The Harlem YWCA and Black Women's Activism
• The California Commission on the Status of Women


We welcome new proposals for document projects or archives. Our national editorial board oversees a peer review system that evaluates prospective contributions and offers editorial support to author/editors. If you are interested in preparing a document project based on your research, we would be glad to exchange email with you about your work and the submission process. Please contact Tom Dublin at or Kitty Sklar at

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