UNPRECEDENTED ACCESS TO OVER ONE MILLION PAGES OF FEMALE-AUTHORED WORK
The third module in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive series, which is a Platinum Award winner at the 2023 Modern Library Awards, Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1922, gives researchers unprecedented access to over one million pages of female-authored work across a diverse range of both fiction and non-fiction. Sourced from and curated by the American Antiquarian Society, the pre-eminent collector of pre-twentieth century Americana, this archive includes around 5,700 monographs published between 1820 and 1922 in the United States and authored by women.
An official bibliography of female-authored texts published in the United States during this period does not exist. In its absence, this assembly of monographs, expertly curated by the American Antiquarian Society, serves this purpose for scholars.
Composed of rare and unique titles and covering over a century of female writing, the collection will enable new scholarship into feminist perspectives and the discovery of female-authored works that have been previously overlooked. Providing users with a canon of women’s literature, the archive helps to answer questions about women’s cultural contributions, provides insight into the female experience, and represents exciting new opportunities for the digital humanities. Although several of the authors found within will be highly recognizable, such as George Eliot and Louisa May Alcott, many of them will be completely unknown, allowing scholars to make new connections as well as rediscovering lost or ignored works from the past. The vast majority of monographs have never been scanned before and are not available on the open web.
Curated by the American Antiquarian Society, the monographs in this archive were selected from across the library’s collection, primarily because they were authored or edited by women, to provide users with a canon of women’s literature. By maintaining a wide scope in the selection of material, this artificial collection supports a diverse variety of research areas, both answering questions on women’s cultural contributions and providing insight into the day-to-day lives of both upper-class and working-class women.
Encompassing more than one hundred years of female authorship, the material in Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1922 includes a diversity of fiction genres and non-fiction subjects such as poetry, personal letters, recipe books, memoirs, histories, pamphlets, leaflets, instructional guides on domesticity and etiquette, biographies, autobiographies, personal papers, children’s literature, commentaries on fashion, diaries, religious tracts, legal accounts, oration, political ephemera and fiction. These titles are united in that they are all texts written by women, not just documents about them, with the wide variety of genres supporting multiple avenues of research into women’s history, in women’s own voices.
A MULTIDISCIPLINARY ARCHIVE
The deliberately broad nature of the selected titles included in Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1922 means it contains a wide variety of materials that will appeal to a range of disciplines, such as:
- Women’s History
- Gender Studies
- American Literature
- Cultural Studies
- Critical Theory and Analysis
- History / American and Canadian History
- Media and Journalism
OPPORTUNTIES FOR DIGITAL SCHOLARSHIP
As an archive of exclusively female-authored works, Rare Titles from the American Antiquarian Society, 1820-1922 presents an exciting opportunity for text and data mining. By providing a unique corpus of material that has clear definition and boundaries, the module forms a perfect data set for digital humanities research, enabling new scholarship into feminist perspectives.
Platform Features & Tools
Researchers can see the frequency of search terms within sets of content to begin identifying central themes and assessing how individuals, places, events, and ideas interact and develop over time.
By grouping commonly occurring themes, this tool reveals hidden connections within search terms—helping to shape research by integrating diverse content with relevant information.
Search across the content of complementary primary source products, including books, in one united, intuitive environment, enabling innovative new research connections.