Women's Studies Section

Association of College & Research Libraries / American Library Association
The Digital Scriptorium
Primary Source Types for Women's Studies TEXT
Diaries / Letters / Personal Papers
Record Books
Periodicals - Journals
Periodicals - Newspapers
Prints / Other Images
Musical Scores
Subjects for Women's Studies Advertising
African American Women
Birth Control / Reproductive Rights
Civil War (United States), 1861-1865
Family Studies
Gender Roles
Labor / Employment
Lesbian Studies
Literature - Plays
Media Images
Performing Arts
Personal Narratives
Social History
United States
Women's Rights
Collections See List of Collections
Coverage Dates

Primarily 19th - 20th century ; one collection on ancient Egypt

Archive is Ongoing / Completed Ongoing
Publisher Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University
URL http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/scriptorium/
Date Searched January 2007


The Digital Scriptorium, a project that began at Duke University in 1995, is the culmination of one of the pioneering efforts in digitizing primary source materials. The materials are from Duke's Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library and represent frequently used items from the collection as well as archived exhibitis.

The holdings of the Special Collections Library range from ancient papyri to records of modern advertising. These materials support research in a wide variety of disciplines including African-American studies, anthropology, classics, economics, history, literature, political science, religion, sociology, and women's studies. The Digital Scriptorium is organized into sixteen projects.

Women's Studies Content

The site is rich in materials for women's studies. Some projects of particular interest are:

  • Emma Spaulding Bryant Letters
    • Ten letters from Emma Spaulding Bryant to her husband, John Emory Bryant during the summer of 1878. Because these letters are unusually frank for this time period, they reveal much about the relationships between husbands and wives in this era. Not searchable.

  • Documents from the Women’s Liberation Movement
    • Transcribed texts and scanned images of over 40 articles, pamphlets, flyers, and booklets published from 1969 to 1974 which reflect the diversity of theory and activities characterizing the early years of the U.S. Women’s Liberation Movement. Items range from radical theoretical writings to humorous plays to the original manuscript minute books of DAR II (Dykes for the Second American Revolution), a local activist group in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Civil War Women
    • Scanned pages and texts of the writings of three women during the American Civil War: the 1864 diary of a 16-year old girl, the papers of a renowned Confederate spy, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, and the papers of a spy for the Union, Sarah E. Thompson. Not searchable.

  • African American Women
    • Scanned pages and texts of the writings of African American women. Currently includes memoirs of Elizabeth Johnson Harris (1876-1942), an 1857 letter from Vilet Lester, a slave on a North Carolina plantation, and several letters from Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson, slaves on the estate of the Virginia governor. Not searchable.

  • Historic American Sheet Music
    • A representative and comprehensive collection of 19th and early 20th century American sheet music. This project provides access to digital images of 3,042 pieces from the collection published in America between 1850 and 1920 and presents a significant perspective on American history and culture. See Browse Sheet Music by Illustration Type for images of female performers, women in a societal and cultural context, as well as stereotypical images of women.

  • Duke Papyrus Archive
    • Texts about and images of nearly 1400 papyri from ancient Egypt. There is a "Women and Children" category which includes texts written by or addressed to women as well as texts otherwise relating to women.

  • William Gale Gedney Photographs and Writings
    • Photographs of women from the mid-1950s through the early 1980s covering Gedney's travels throughout the United States, Europe, and India.

  • Ad Access
    • Images from advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955 are organized into five subject areas -- Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II. Predictably, the category containing the bulk of images relating to women is "Beauty and Hygiene."


Searching is not available in all collections and varies across those collections that do allow searching. Controlled vocabulary is helpful in:

  • Historic American Sheet Music
    • HASM -- Historic American Sheet Music local catalog
      • HASM Subject Content -- refers to the music itself
      • HASM Illustration Type -- refers to illustrations in the music
      • HASM Advertising -- refers to advertisements in the music

    • LCTGM -- Library of Congress Thesaurus of Graphic Materials

    • AAT – Art and Architecture Thesaurus

    • LCSH – Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • Duke Papyrus Archive
    • Library of Congress Subject Headings and genre headings from the Art and Architecture Thesaurus.

Archive Review:
Marcia Barrett
The University of Alabama

Last updated: January 15, 2007

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