Women's Authors & Publishers: Collections

The writing of women has frequently been absent from the history of publishing, books, and authorship, with female voices minimized across the centuries. Even where literary works were aimed at a female audience, often the author remained male, with the role of women writers being overlooked within literature and publishing. The content in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive allows for the study of female authorship by examining 19th century and 20th century publications, records, periodicals, monographs, novels, and other forms of literary and nonliterary writing that were produced for and by women. Researchers can develop a greater understanding of women as writers and novelists, as well as providing opportunities to explore the concepts of gender, literature, and authorship in a more general way. By examining the eclectic variety of texts produced by and for women during the 19th century and 20th century, researchers can examine the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives put forward by female authors and women writers. The primary sources available in the collections offered as part of Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive provide the chance to understand this important intersection of gender, literature, and writing. 

Female authorship took a number of forms in the 19th century and 20th century. Exploring the work of women writers, both novelists and nonfiction writers, through the diverse corpus of books and pamphlets available in the archive allows for the examination of the intersection of gender and authorship by presenting a detailed insight into the female experience across both literary novels and nonfiction. Periodicals could be produced by women, for women, allowing them to express their views on a wide range of issues, including literature, the arts, education, working conditions, political movements, and feminism. 

Periodicals played a key role in amplifying the voices of women, and exploring these publications enables scholars to understand women as both authors and readers. There were many publishers of periodicals that published material intended for women, and although some were still written and produced by men, these periodicals can vary greatly in terms of their ideology and approach toward gender. As well as amplifying female voices, these publishers also played a role in providing employment in publishing for women—for example, the Women’s Printing Society, which offered access to the publishing industry, a traditionally male-dominated space. This content is integral to understanding the modes of expression and authorship available to women during the nineteenth century and twentieth century, and for exploring the ways in which that authorship intersects with issues of gender and identity.

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However, published materials, such as periodicals, aren’t the only way to examine the role of gender and female authorship or understand the work of women writers. Letters and journals, for example, can provide researchers with a different perspective, being a more candid and personal approach to female authorship. 
 

Where male authorship has long dominated the history books, the words of women writers and women authors, and women’s role in publishing, has been frequently underrepresented. The digital content in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive provides an essential counterpoint to the male-focused narrative. The resource brings female-authored primary sources to the forefront, showcasing the work of 19th century and 20th century women writers and creating an essential opportunity to build a greater understanding of the connection between gender and authorship, and of the diversity of women writers, women in publishing, and their literary production across two centuries. Through various literary formats, including fiction and nonfiction, short stories, diaries, periodicals, pamphlets, letters, and novels, these materials bring female voices, both through authorship and in publishing, to the forefront, providing insight into the lives of female authors and women writers and showcasing their views, observations, and beliefs. 

  • European Women’s Periodicals

    This collection contains European periodicals from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the Dutch East Indies. The material was primarily published between 1880 and 1940, so covers both the 19th century and 20th century. These publications informed readers and allowed them to express their views on a wide range of topics, including literature and the arts, women’s rights, birth control, education, and homemaking. Socialist women’s journals, such as Die Gleichheit, highlight the significant role they played in European socialist movements. Other periodicals examine Catholic interests, important issues to young or working-class women, and specific political parties and movements. Expressing a wide range of concerns, struggles for equality, and involvement in progressive movements, this collection is vital for researchers interested in the history of feminism and gender in northern Europe.

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  • Monographs on and by Women from the American Antiquarian Society

    Voice and Vision features a substantial monograph collection from the American Antiquarian Society, enabling researchers to explore a diverse range of female authorship. These books contain the output of a predominantly female authorship in a variety of literary and nonliterary forms, including poetry, fiction books, instructional guides (domestic and professional), personal letters, recipe books, memoirs, pamphlets and leaflets, biographies and autobiographies, personal papers, children’s literature, commentaries on fashion, diaries, and religious tracts. The literary books and pamphlets in the collection provide an eclectic mix of topics, such as the abolition of slavery, the issues of African Americans, alcohol and temperance, American life, divorce, domestic service, education, female crime, poetry, health and hygiene, juvenile literature, mental health, moral reform, religion, sexual discrimination, social reform, charitable organizations, and women’s rights, bringing the voices of women writers to the fore and allowing researchers to examine questions surrounding gender and authorship.

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  • Women Printing Society Publications

    This collection covers the output of the Women’s Printing Society from 1874 to 1943, which had a significant role in the British suffrage movement—both through its publication of feminist tracts and amplification of the voices of women writers, and also in providing employment opportunities in publishing for women—especially significant as publishing had previously been a male-dominated space.

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  • Women’s Lives

    This collection focuses on the lives and activities of important women from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. The collection includes the lives of female missionaries who traveled the globe between the years 1840 and 1980, as well as the records of American pioneer women, including their migration on the Oregon Trail and their lives in the Pacific Northwest.

    Materials related to the women’s missionary movement include journals, letters, and manuscripts written by female missionaries about their experiences and the people and customs of the countries in which they interacted. They provide accounts of living in East and South Asia, South America, Africa, and the United States.

    Diaries, memoirs, photographs, and letters documenting the lives of a selection of American pioneer women who traveled the Oregon Trail or settled or lived in the Pacific Northwest provide insight into the farm, their family, and their social life in nineteenth century rural America.

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  • Women’s Periodicals

    In collaboration with the British Library, Gale has digitized a range of 19th century and 20th century magazines and journals created both by and for women. The publications shed light on a range of aspects of women’s lives, from work to leisure. These periodicals, which showcase the work of women writers, offer a full and invaluable source for the study of the social and political history of women and their place in society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This female authorship covers every aspect of the surge of emancipationist activities between 1870 and 1928, and also covers activism beyond suffrage, including anarchism, pacifism, reproductive rights, and abolitionism. Offering an excellent insight into a wide variety of attitudes and viewpoints, this material challenges historians and social scientists to understand the complexities of moral and social attitudes to women—as well as providing a deeper insight, in women’s own voices, into a range of political viewpoints on topics such as gender, education, work, religion, temperance, and social reform.

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