Featured Primary Sources

Women’s History

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, and text to place the document in historical context. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Aurelia Hale to her sister Sarah, June 11, 1821.  (GLC08934)

A northerner’s view of southern slavery, 1821

Creator: Aurelia Hale Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Woman reading a book (Eloyse et Abailard) after Fragonard

Arguments for educating women, 1735

Creator: John Peter Zenger Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
“Be a Cadet Nurse,” United States Public Health Service, 1944. (GLC09520.04)

Cadet Nurse Corps, 1943

Creator: US Public Health Service Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
“Official Civilian Defense Insignia, United States Citizens Defense Corps,” US O

Civilian defense on the home front, 1942

Creator: The Office of Civilian Defense Curriculum Subjects: Art, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
P. G. T. Beauregard, General Orders 44, May 19, 1862. (GLC00666)

Confederate reaction to “Beast” Butler’s orders, 1862

Creator: P. G. T. Beauregard Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Eleanor Roosevelt to Addie Frizielle, May 13, 1944 (GLC09544)

Eleanor Roosevelt’s four basic rights, 1944

Creator: Eleanor Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Henry Knox to Lucy Knox, July 8, 1776. (GLC02437.00363)

Henry Knox on the British invasion of New York, 1776

Creator: Henry Knox Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Horace Greeley to Elizabeth Oakes Smith, March 1, 1851 (Gilder Lehrman Colle

Horace Greeley on a woman’s reform newspaper, 1851

Creator: Horace Greeley Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
The Lowell Offering, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Lowell Mill Girls and the factory system, 1840

Creator: Orestes Brownson and "A Factory Girl" Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
Lucy Knox to Henry Knox, May 1777. (GLC05895)

Lucy Knox on the home front during the Revolutionary War, 1777

Creator: Lucy Knox Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Letters of Lydia Maria Child, 1882

Lydia Maria Child on women’s rights, 1843

Creator: Lydia Maria Child Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

Martha Washington on life after the Revolution, 1784

Creator: Martha Washington Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Mary Todd Lincoln, ca. 1863 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Mary Todd Lincoln on life after the White House, 1870

Creator: Mary Todd Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
Freedmen’s contract between Isham G. Bailey and freedmen Cooper Hughs and Charl

Sharecropper contract, 1867

Creator: Isham G. Bailey Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Lincoln Said Women Should Vote, ca. 1910 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Suffragists invoke Lincoln, 1910

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Susan B. Anthony, Statement of the current state of her work for equal rights fo

Susan B. Anthony on suffrage and equal rights, 1901

Creator: Susan B. Anthony Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
The Kelly family, ca. 1861. (GLC04197.40)

The price of war: A letter from Mary Kelly to Sarah Gordon

Creator: Mary Kelly Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Mary Walker to James Hardie, September 23, 1864 (GLC06882)

The service of Medal of Honor recipient Dr. Mary Walker, 1864

Creator: Mary E. Walker Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Anne Brown Adams to Alexander Ross,circa 1880s (GLC03007.53)

The struggle for married women’s rights, circa 1880s

Creator: Anne Brown Adams Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Joseph Rumshinsky, “Mamenu” or “The Triangle Victims,” 1911. (GLC06225)

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911

Creator: Joseph Rumshinsky Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Foreign Languages, Literature, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels:
Woman Suffrage Party of the City of New York, Women in the Home broadside, ca. 1

Women’s suffrage poster, 1915

Creator: Woman Suffrage Party of the City of New York Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: