Women’s Manuscript Collections
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Interest in the lives and contributions of women increases with each decade. The women’s Movement of the 1960s and 1970s pointed out that history had been written mostly by and about men. With this in mind, scholars have started to research and write about the diverse lives of women. But to adequately tell these stories, researchers need access to materials produced by women as well as broader contextual information showing women’s perspectives. The purpose of the Guide to Women’s Manuscript Collections is to provide greater understanding of and access to primary documents related to women which are housed in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections of BYU Library. These collections focus on Mormon and Western American women, but Mormon women, nationally and internationally, are also considered. The women’s collections exist to help document the lives, roles, and accomplishments of women, both prominent and the seemingly obscure.
Women’s manuscripts may stand alone or be part of larger manuscript collections. They are not located in one separate area but are scattered throughout the Special Collection’s archives. The common thread that connects them all is that they are by or about women. New women-related materials are regularly added to the archives.
The Guide to Women’s Manuscript Collections (Searchable database) includes summaries of some women’s manuscripts with new entries being added periodically to the database. Each entry provides bibliographical data, the manuscript genre, a short biography of the woman and an abstract description of the collection content. Materials include originals and/or transcripts of diaries, journals biographies, autobiographies, papers, files, correspondence, oral interviews, etc. that document the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The database entries are fully keyword searchable allowing researchers to look for insights into women’s experiences that elucidate the important contributions of women.