Women in Leadership: Collections

Though women’s voices have traditionally been underrepresented, that doesn’t mean to say that they haven’t played a significant role in the development of politics, society, and culture. Throughout history, women have played pivotal roles as leaders across various fields—from activist movements, such as the suffragettes; to politicians, such as Shirley Chisolm; educators, and writers. Through the primary source materials available in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive, researchers can explore and examine the roles of female leaders.

There are many key examples of women as leaders to be uncovered in the collections. Particularly worth exploring are the materials associated with female activists and campaigners. Within the women’s rights movement, both in the United States and the United Kingdom, famous activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Emmeline Pankhurst were joined with often less discussed, but none the less powerful, women such as Mary Gawthorpe and Anna Garlin Spencer. Other activist campaigns also produced powerful female leaders, including Sojourner Truth, the famous abolitionist and women’s rights speaker; Alicia Escalante for the Chicana movement; and women such as Hannah Johnston Bailey, Lucia Ames Mead, and Lydia Wentworth for the pacifist movement.

The primary sources available in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive enable scholars and students to unearth the stories of important women in history and bring the voices of these female leaders back into the spotlight.

  • Alicia Escalante Papers

    Alicia Escalante was a Chicana activist who championed welfare rights, economic justice, and women’s rights in Los Angeles during the 1960s Chicano movement. She was involved in, and arrested for, participation in multiple social and economic justice movements. The collection includes correspondence, speeches, articles, publications, and internal organizational files that document her activism and sociopolitical involvement.

    The inclusion of material on Chicana leaders and activists allows researchers to understand a variety of perspectives on women’s experiences and their impact on society.

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  • Anna Garlin Spencer Papers, 1878‒1931

    Anna Garlin Spencer was a minister, feminist, educator, pacifist, and writer on ethics and social problems. She dedicated her life to social reform and was active in the cause of women’s rights for more than 40 years. Her interest in pacifism led to prominent positions in the cause for peace, including with the National Arbitration and Peace Congress and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as being a founding member of the Woman’s Peace Party in 1915. The papers featured in this collection include correspondence and writings by Spencer as well as biographical and family material.

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  • Edwin Doak Mead & Lucia Ames Mead Papers, 1876‒1936

    Edwin Doak Mead and Lucia Ames Mead were leading pacifists, writers, and social reformers of the United States and international peace movements. Edwin Mead directed the work of the World Peace Foundation and took part in many international peace congresses, as well as being an American delegate to the International Peace Bureau, a prominent member of the American Peace League, and one of the founders for the School Peace League. Lucia Ames Mead was a leading member of many feminist and pacifist organizations, including the Woman’s Peace Party; was a delegate to the founding conference of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in 1919; and served as a vice president on the board of the National Council for Prevention of War. She was also an officer of the National Council of Women of the United States and was a member of many U.S. feminist associations. Edwin Mead’s papers include correspondence with many peace leaders, such as Andrew Carnegie, alongside manuscripts, printed articles, clippings, and memorials issued after his death. The papers of Lucia Ames Mead consist of her diaries, notebooks, and correspondence with numerous organizations, including the WILPF, the Women’s Peace Union (London), and the American Woman’s Republic. Many manuscripts and printed versions of her articles, pamphlets, book reviews, and newspaper clippings are included.

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  • Hannah Clothier Hull Papers, 1889‒1958

    Hannah Clothier Hull was one of the founders of the Woman’s Peace Party and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), serving as their national officer for nearly 40 years. She was active in a number of other social reform movements, including women’s suffrage, women’s rights, and temperance. The collection features correspondence, both personal and professional; articles and manuscript notes; alongside biographical material, such as family papers and photographs. A large part of the material focuses on Hull’s work in the peace movement, including correspondence with other WILPF members, financial statements, press releases, and documents of the League. Her interest in women’s rights is represented by items on women’s suffrage, correspondence on WILPF relations with the National Council of Women of the United States, and material on women’s movements in China and India.

    Among the many correspondents in this collection are key figures such as Jane Addams, Emily Greene Balch, Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Hamilton, Lida Gustava Heymann, Lola Maverick Lloyd, Lucia Ames Mead, Jeannette Rankin, Rosika Schwimmer, Anna Garlin Spencer, Ellen Gates Starr, and Mary E. Woolley.

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  • Hannah Johnston Bailey Papers, 1858‒1923

    Hannah Johnston Bailey was a Quaker pacifist, suffragist, reformer, and temperance leader. She was the superintendent of the Department of Peace and Arbitration of the national Woman’s Christian Temperance Union from 1887 to 1916, president and superintendent of the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, and an officer in the Universal Peace Union. An active participant in the suffrage movement, she was also interested in the influence of militarism on children, the reform of women’s prisons, the abolition of capital punishment, and women’s missionary work. The collection includes personal papers, correspondence, diaries and journals, published and unpublished articles, biographical information, and memorabilia, alongside material on Bailey’s work with the national and world Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the National Council of Women, and the financial and legal papers of the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association. Correspondents and others in this collection include Cora Slocomb di Brazzà Savorgnan (Countess di Brazza), Alice May Douglas, Anna Gordon, Lucia Ames Mead, Anne Sturges Duryea, and Frances Willard.

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  • Lydia G. Wentworth Papers, 1902‒1947

    Lydia G. Wentworth was a writer and ardent peace advocate. She carried on prolific correspondence and contributed hundreds of articles to newspapers and magazines, despite illness leaving her bedridden. Many of her articles were used as editorials or printed in leaflet form and distributed to peace societies. Wentworth believed that socialism and pacifism were synonymous and urged women to play a role in promoting peace both by seeking election to public office and by becoming leaders in the peace movement. She was on the advisory committee of the Women’s Peace Society and was a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Association to Abolish War, and the Boston League of Women Voters. The papers featured in this collection include correspondence with many friends and peace movement colleagues, newspaper editors, and organizations, as well as manuscripts, printed articles, and poems.

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  • National Network of Hispanic Women Archives

    The National Network of Hispanic Women was a nonprofit corporation founded in 1980 that was dedicated to the identification and advancement of Hispanic women for positions of leadership in the public and private sectors. In the past, primary sources documenting Hispanic women have been confined to unpublished dissertations and government documentation. This collection includes organizational records, correspondence, photographs, publications, reports, and ephemera that allow the personal voices of these women to be heard. By putting the sociopolitical experiences of Hispanic women in American society at the center of the narrative, these materials promote the continuation of ethnic and gender studies, gender research, and debate.

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  • Papers of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

    Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was an agitator and organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, an official for the Communist Party, and one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union. Dubbed “The Rebel Girl,” she was notorious and, for more than half a century, was a professional revolutionary against capitalism. The eldest daughter of a family of reformers and activists, she spoke; organized workers; led immigrant worker’s strikes; and wrote pamphlets, articles, and books with the aim of convincing the public that private ownership and the profit system were inhumane. An excellent orator, she left a permanent record of her protest campaigns through her writings, which call attention to the critical issues of the twentieth century: war, poverty, sexism, and civil liberties.

    Many of the papers in this collection are concerned with Flynn’s political activities and her time in the Communist Party (1937‒1964), although some cover her earlier years, including the papers of her son, Fred Flynn. Made up of correspondence, biographical sketches, autobiographical notes, telegrams, published and unpublished articles, speeches and poems, diaries, itineraries, clippings, programs, invitations, course materials, documents pertaining to legal proceedings, and files produced by various government agencies, alongside printed materials, including election campaign literature, annotated books, galley proofs, articles, and pamphlets, the materials tell the story of a lesser known, but nonetheless significant, figure of the feminist movement.

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  • Papers of Mary E. Gawthorpe

    Born in Leeds in 1881, Mary E. Gawthorpe was a British suffragist and campaigner who worked full time for several feminist and social organizations in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, both in the UK and the United States. She initially became involved in socialist and labor politics, working as an organizer for the Women’s Social and Political Union from 1906 to 1912, but became increasingly interested in women’s suffrage, stimulating interest in the cause throughout Yorkshire by writing letters to the press and speaking at local labor events. Alongside Dora Marsden, she started a new radical feminist journal, The Freewoman, in 1911. In 1916, Gawthorpe sailed to the United States and supported the struggle for women’s suffrage in America, joining the Women’s Suffrage Party. The collection includes her diaries; notes; postcards; extensive personal correspondence; and printed materials, such as handbills, flyers, and annual reports of local suffrage societies, which cover the period of her involvement with the militant British suffragettes as well as some of her activities in the United States. The papers form an extensive collection of personal and political material from a woman whose political involvement spanned many decades and went beyond supportive activism. They’re an excellent resource for researchers exploring the British militant suffrage movement, with papers relating to this forming a large part of the collection, while her position as a working-class socialist from northern Britain expands our knowledge of the social, cultural, and geographical basis of the Women’s Social and Political Union’s work. Much of the later material in this collection helps to situate suffrage involvement as part of a broader political life, including communications with fellow suffragettes, outlines of demonstrations, and more complex plans, and material on Gawthorpe’s association with The Freewoman publication.

     For suffrage historians and researchers with an interest in the political cultures of feminism, the extent to which the collection allows the key friendship networks of activists to be traced and recreated is a particularly useful dimension. Although Gawthorpe is best known as a suffragette, the collection also offers evidence of her extensive involvement in a number of political campaigns in the United States, providing valuable material for anyone seeking to understand the complex ways in which class and political activity were connected at the end of the nineteenth century.

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  • Women’s Trade Union League and Its Leaders

    The Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) was founded in 1903 and disbanded in 1950. Its goals were to organize working women into unions, advocate for legislation protecting working women, and educate both workers and middle-class people about the benefits of unionization. This collection includes materials from the national WTUL, records of local branches, and papers of five women active in the organization. The largest section consists of the papers of Margaret Dreier Robins, who led WTUL from 1907 to 1922, during which time it became larger, better funded, and more influential. Records include articles, speeches, meeting minutes, and extensive correspondence detailing the day-to-day life of a women’s rights activist in the first decades of the twentieth century. Other collections of individual women’s journals, correspondence, and assorted papers include those of Leonora O’Reilly, active in the suffrage and vocational education movements in addition to WTUL; Mary Anderson, longtime head of a government bureau for working women; Rose Schneiderman, leader of the New York WTUL from 1918 to 1944; and Agnes Nestor, president of the International Glove Workers Union of America and head of the Chicago WTUL. The collection also includes papers from the national and New York branches of the WTUL. The New York collection is the largest, revealing the day-to-day work of the WTUL’s most active branch. Included are minutes of general and executive board meetings and monthly reports of the group’s actions.

    The WTUL collection offers first-person perspectives into the leadership of the WTUL and women’s activism in the first half of the twentieth century. It’s essential resource to researchers studying organized labor, gender, and women’s rights or Progressive-era politics. It includes the papers of five women active in the organization. Several of these women worked in the federal government doing labor-related work as well as in the WTUL. Some helped develop vocational education programs and many supported suffrage. Some were active in the pacifist movement during World War I. Thus, this collection illuminates the wide range of women’s activism in the first half of the twentieth century.

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