History     |     Biography    |     British History    |     Canadian History   |     Legal History   |     Military History   |     Native American History   |     U.S. History   |     World History 

Women’s History 

Take a closer look at the history of women in the United States. For much of U.S. history, women were denied political and civil rights. Common law assumptions mandated that a married woman was under the tutelage of her husband. Single women had more freedoms, with rights to enter into contracts, sue, or be sued, but the law tended to view women as wives and mothers rather than as citizens, property owners, or wage earners.

Women’s rights activists began publicly agitating for change in 1848 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott convened the Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. The passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments after the Civil War, which granted former slaves equal rights under the law and the right to vote, galvanized the movement, as women demanded rights granted to former slaves. Women finally gained the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. In 1923, Alice Paul proposed the Equal Rights Amendment that would end legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. Though the amendment passed in Congress in 1972, it failed to get the necessary ratification at the state level.

Women were not a significant part of the workforce until World War II (1939–1945), when they assumed the jobs left by men serving in the military overseas. The economic and social power they gained during this time brought about the feminist movement, which drew inspiration from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Women demanded reforms on such issues as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. One of the most significant victories of the feminist movement was the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade (1973), which legalized abortion.

The issue of women’s reproductive rights would continue to be hotly contested into the 21st century. Another important wave of activism in the 21st century was the #MeToo movement, which, beginning in 2017, aimed to reveal the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment against women.

Contact my rep                   Find resources at my library

Women's History Resources

Gale provides scholarly resources to advance the study of women’s history online, including databasesprimary source archives, and eBooks.


Ideal for school, academic, and public libraries, Gale databases offer researchers access to credible, up-to-date content, including full-text articles covering topics on women’s health, education, family life, feminism, gender, suffrage, and more.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains historical archives and digital collections that provide researchers with firsthand publications and magazines covering topics about American women such as gender, suffrage, politics, and much more.

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of eBooks covering a wide range of women’s history topics, including feminists, equality, gender roles and rights, and much more. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content. 

  • Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, 2nd Edition

    Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, 2nd Edition

    Facts on File | 2016 | ISBN-13: 9781438140643

    Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature, 2nd Edition is a comprehensive reference guide to the history and development of feminist literature, from early fairy tales to works by great women writers of today. Part of the Literary Movements series, the resource offers hundreds of informative A-to-Z main content entries covering a wide range of works and writers from around the world as well as a range of genres, including novels, short stories, poetry, plays, and criticism.

    Contact my sales rep >>

  • Opinions Throughout History: Gender: Roles & Rights, 1st Edition

    Opinions Throughout History: Gender: Roles & Rights, 1st Edition

    Grey House Publishing | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781682179529

    This title is the third volume in a new series from Grey House Publishing that offers single, in-depth volumes designed to follow the path of public opinion on current, controversial topics as they have evolved throughout history. Includes a range of primary and secondary source documents, such as newspaper and magazine articles, speeches, court decisions, and other legislation. These documents are accompanied by expert commentary and analysis to guide the reader through the process of understanding how each document contributed to, or is a reflection of, changing attitudes about gender roles and rights. Issues discussed include historic patterns of gender balance, religion’s role in community organization, feminism’s impact on defining gender roles for men and women at home and in the workplace, family-centered social policy, the backlash against progressive gender politics, the gender pay parity movement, and the #MeToo movement as a response to workplace sexual harassment.

    Contact my sales rep >>

  • Protest Movements: Women's Suffrage, 1st Edition

    Protest Movements: Women's Suffrage, 1st Edition

    Core Library | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781532151859

    Women in many parts of the United States were not allowed to vote until 1920. This book discusses the history of women’s voting rights, how women campaigned for full voting rights across the country, and how their efforts led to gains in equality for women in other areas as well. Easy-to-read text, vivid images, and helpful back matter give readers a clear look at this subject. Features include a table of contents, infographics, a glossary, additional resources, and an index. Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards.

    Contact my sales rep >>

Resources to Boost Your Research

From trending social issues to classic literature, Gale resources have you covered. Explore overviews, statistics, essay topics, and more or log in through your library to find even more content.

Access topics >>