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Women's History Research in Archives  

This guide provides an introduction to researching in archives as well as resources and strategies for researching women's history in archives.
Last Updated: Oct 9, 2013 URL: Print Guide

Introduction Print Page

Table of Contents

Libraries vs. Archives

  • What’s the Difference?
  • Libraries vs. Archives (comparative chart)

Find an Archive

  • UW-Madison Area Archives
  • Find an Archive Near You
  • Find a Women’s Archive Near You
  • Find an Archive by Content
  • Find the Papers of an Individual or Organization

Women’s Archives

  • Help These Lists Grow
  • Women’s Archives in the United States
  • International Women’s Archives
  • Professional Women’s Archives
  • Women of Color Archives
  • Lesbian Archives
  • Jewish Women’s Archives
  • Christian Women’s Archives

Visiting an Archive

  • Preliminary Research
  • Contact the Archive
  • What to Expect on a Visit

Researching in Archives

  • Archival Organization
  • Archival Catalogs
  • Using “Finding Aids”
  • Tutorials and Manuals

Women’s History Research

  • Subject Terms
  • Guides to Archival Collections
  • Searching Archival Catalogs
  • Think Like an Archivist

Primary Sources

  • Published Archival Materials
  • Exhibits and Items Online
  • More on Primary Sources

    Photo Archive

    Photo by Pete Ashton



    Beginning to do archival research can be confusing and intimidating. 

    Archives use different organizational systems than libraries and have more restrictive access systems than libraries.  Understanding the differences between libraries and archives, however, can help you get the most out of archival research. 

    This guide seeks to promote women's history related archival research by providing resources for finding archives and relevant archival collections, explaining archival organization and gathering together relevant links and references.

    Ways to Use This Guide

    You can use this guide in a number of ways depending on the scope of your research project: 

    Quick and Dirty:

    Follow links and use search tips to find digitized archival materials available online or reproductions of archival materials in a library near you.  See the Primary Sources tab.


    Find an archive near you and use tips to find women's and gender history related materials in their collections.


    Find the papers of a particular person, organization or institution OR find an archive devoted to your research topic.  Get tips and explanations that will help you get the most out of your research time when you visit.


    Read the whole guide and combine numerous strategies as appropriate to different aspects of your research project.


      Piano Roll Boxes

      Photo by Power House Museum

      Subject Guide

      Profile Image
      Karla J. Strand
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      Contact Info
      The Gender & Women's Studies Librarian
      University of Wisconsin System
      430 Memorial Library
      728 State Street
      Madison, WI 53706
      Tel: 608-263-5754
      Send Email

      Guide Creator

      Virginia Corvid, a library and archival studies graduate student, created this guide as part of a practicum at the Women's Studies Librarian's Office.  Virginia would like to thank the Women's Studies Librarian, Phyllis Holman Weisbard, for all of her assistance and advice on this project. For updates to this guide, email Phyllis.

      Creative Commons License
      Creative Commons


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