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The Overlooked Female Ancestors

It is always great to find interesting databases and Internet sites established that assist the researcher in learning more about their ancestors, especially our female ancestors.  This site titled Women Working 1800 – 1930 is done by the Harvard University Library – Open Collections Program.

Women’s History is presented on the site in a vast collection of some 650,000 pages from over 3,000 books and catalogs, some 900 manuscripts and 1,400 photographs.  Not just the major events in the history of women’s struggle for equality, but also the daily lifestyle, home life, health, education and recreation surrounding our female ancestors from 1800 to 1930.

The database is divided into several different categories.  They include Books, Diaries, Institutional Records, Organizations, Magazines, Manuscripts, Photographs and Trade Catalogs.

In the Photographs section are many interesting images of the work environment in factories that woman faced for decades. With each image is a description, time period and location.

A category such as Organizations covers information on the labor unions which eventually assisted females with improved working conditions. There are also women’s clubs, suffrage associations, female medicine colleges and the women’s bureau; all providing information for the researcher.

The section on diaries is very interesting by seeing in these handwritten diaries the daily life of what could have been our own grandmother.  There is a dairy farmer’s wife diary from 1886, an actress from the early 1920s, a school teacher from 1906 to 1910 and an office secretary from 1913.

The Magazine section is a great collection of the popular women’s magazines. The dates range from the 1840s to 1921. Just selecting one or two of those magazines you can examine each page of these vintage magazines to see the products, the household products, fashions and topics that interested women at that time. The Delineator Magazine was an especially popular with woman across the country before and after the turn of the 20th century. These alone offer real insight to your great grandmother’s life.

The site offers a search box to assist in any specific place, occupation or female you might be interested in researching.

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Steffi 6/01/12

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