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Women Revealed: Researching the lives of women: Home

Resources and suggestions for researching women in history.


Recommended Resources

Official Register of the United States

This series started in 1817 and provides basic information on civilian employees. Women are indicated frequently indicated with Mrs. or Miss. Depending on the volume information includes where the person was born, where they live, their job title, pay and sometimes race.


Women inventors to whom patents have been granted by the United States government, 1790 to July 1, 1888

Patent numbers can be cross-referenced with Google Patent for images and the text of patents.


Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States.
Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States currently contains about 2140 biographical sketches of grassroots women suffragists. More content will be added regularly over the next two years and when complete it will include crowdsourced biographical sketches of more than 3,500 women suffrage activists, primarily concentrated in the period 1890-1920. 

Women in Archives

Ford Presidential Library: Betty Ford White House Papers  

National Archives: Women's History

Frances Willard House Museum: Library and Archives

Watch the Presentation


Benjamin AldredBenjamin Aldred, University of Illinois, Chicago 

Benjamin Aldred is the librarian for Social Work, Urban Planning, Maps and Government Information at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Ben has a MLS from the University of Illinois and a PhD in Folklore and American Studies from Indiana University where he specialized in tourist folklore about the Salem Witch Trials.  He presently researches library collection development using digital humanities methods.



Anya JabourAnya Jabour, University of Montana 

Anya Jabour is Regents Professor of History at the University of Montana, where she teaches courses in U.S. women's history, the history of families and children, the history of gender and sexuality, and the American South. She is the author or editor of six books, most recently a biography of a Kentucky-born, Chicago-based social work educator, woman suffrage advocate, and social justice activist, SOPHONISBA BRECKINRIDGE: CHAMPIONING WOMEN'S ACTIVISM IN MODERN AMERICA. She has a particular interest in biography. She regularly teaches a research and writing seminar entitled "Writing Women's Lives," and for the past three years, she has been the state coordinator for an online biographical dictionary of suffrage activists.


Janet OlsonJanet Olson, Frances Willard House Museum 

Janet Olson has been Assistant University Archivist at Northwestern University since 1998; she retired in May 2020. Her final project at Northwestern was the creation of an exhibit (“On the Same Terms”) with accompanying catalog, to mark the 150th anniversary of co-education at the University She has also been the part-time Archivist for the Frances Willard House Museum and WCTU Archives in Evanston since 2007. She is a Certified Archivist, and has held leadership roles in local, regional, and national professional organizations. She has an MA in History from Loyola University in Chicago; her research focuses on 19th-century social reform, and she has presented papers at a number of history and archives professional conferences.

Research Tips

Explore Name Variations:

  • Married women may be referred to by their husband's name or initials. (eg Mrs. O.A. Stevens).
  • Finding the maiden name is very helpful
  • Watch for different spellings, anglicisation, and miss-spellings (e.g. Katrine, Katherine, Katheryn, Catherine)
  • Were nicknames used? (e.g. Kitty instead of Katherine)
  • Check dates to make sure you have the right persons and not a relative


Your questions

Are any of you familiar with the movie Suffragette? If so, what are your thoughts on it as it relates to your current/past research?


Are you seeing an uptick in the number of archives and other repositories focusing on women and POC collections within their holdings? Maybe just more discussions about them or individuals (or institutions) beginning to discuss new research?

Susanne: There have been increased efforts by cultural organizations to address this issue. For example, the Shades of L.A. project started when the L.A. Public Library recognized significant gaps in collections relating to People of Color. The program addressed several issues including trust, developing a relationship with the communities, understanding cultural needs. I like this example because the process used can be replicated by most institutions. You can read more about this topic in Digitizing Your Collection.

Digitization has changed the way collection are developed. Individuals are not required to entrust an organization with their personal family history. Instead a digitization service is offered.

Another good example is the Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal. This is a collaborative where collections have cultural interpretation provided by Native members of the various Tribe sand Nations. Access to content is limited based on the cultural values of the members.

The Digital Transgender Archive is an online collection that brings together content from multiple sources.


To follow-up on Ben's observation, how can we prevent great minority voices not be erased from history today and in the future, especially in government publications? I am concerned with the transience of electronic publications.

Have more questions? Send me an email!