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Manuscript Division



Women's Suffrage
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In addition to those in the medical fields, other women scientists whose careers are represented in the division worked in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, and anthropology.

Agriculture and Horticulture

Although many scientific pursuits were considered off limits to most women, the fields of agriculture and horticulture seem to have been more accessible, perhaps because of women's traditional roles in maintaining family farms and gardens. The Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Family Papers (8,000 items; 1703-1947) [catalog record] contain letter books of Elizabeth Lucas Pinckney (1723-1793), one of America's earliest agricultural innovators, whose experiments with indigo helped to establish that crop as an important southern export in the eighteenth century. (Also of note in this collection is a plantation book that lists the names of male and female slaves along with their birth dates and a description of the work they performed. 14)

In more recent years, Pennsylvania horticulturist and city planner Mira Lloyd Dock (1853-1945) accumulated papers (2,500 items; 1814-1947; bulk 1896-1930) [catalog record] dealing with forestry, gardening, park development, and city beautification. Other work by women landscape architects may be unearthed in the records of the American Society of Landscape Architects (11,000 items; 1900-1960; bulk 1925-55) [catalog record].

Naturalist and ornithologist Harriet Mann Miller (1831-1918) [catalog record], who wrote under the pseudonym Olive Thorne Miller, is also represented by a small collection (46 items; 1891-1909).


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Margaret Mead on a canoe with Manus children, 1928. Reo Fortune, photographer. Manuscript Division.
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Anthropology may be the scientific field about which the division has the most information on women's participation. Among its largest collections are the papers of anthropologist and educator Margaret Mead (1901-1978) [catalog record]. Beginning with her first book, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), which compared the experiences of American and Samoan teenagers, Mead used her research on Pacific Island cultures as a framework for analyzing American society. She was particularly interested in gender and race as cultural constructs, and she served as a mentor and promoter of many young women, especially those pursuing careers in anthropology. Her correspondence, speeches, and writings, including her many articles for Redbook and other women's magazines, cover a variety of topics of interest to women's historians. Also included in her collection (528,466 items; 1838-1987; bulk 1911-78) are papers of her colleagues Jane Belo, Ruth Benedict, Edith M. Cobb, Lenora Schwartz Foerstel, Margaret Lowenfeld, Lola Romanucci, and Martha Wolfenstein. Another of Mead's colleagues, anthropologist Rhoda Bubendey Metraux (b. 1914), donated her own collection of papers (49,000 items; 1905-80; bulk 1948-70) [catalog record], which includes material on several of their joint projects.

Born a half-century before Mead was author and explorer Mary French Sheldon (1847-1936) [catalog record]. Although she was not as consciously comparative in her approach as Mead, Sheldon nevertheless revealed attitudes about gender issues in American society in her studies of women and children in the Belgian Congo in the 1890s (1,350 items; 1885-1936).

Various other geographers, explorers, and anthropologists are documented in the records of the Society of Woman Geographers (11,700 items; 1925-87) [catalog record].

Male Scientists

The division's holdings relating to male scientists are quite extensive, but only a few examples are needed to illustrate their potential interest to women's historians.

The papers of geologist, Indian agent, and explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (25,000 items; 1788-1941; bulk 1820-56) [catalog record], include the papers of his wives and daughters as well as stories about Native American women in the Michigan area. Schoolcraft's first wife, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (1800-1842), was part Ojibwe Indian, and her papers consist of poems she wrote before and after her marriage, writings about Indian girlhood and Ojibwe tales and legends, and a journal (1828) detailing her agricultural and household activities while her husband was away from home. The papers of Henry's second wife, novelist Mary Howard Schoolcraft, a member of a wealthy slave-owning family who left her home in South Carolina to live with Henry in Washington, D.C., reflect her thoughts about women's need for economic independence; southern women and slavery; and Washington politics and society.

Also of interest to historians of Native American women are the papers of zoologist and ethnologist C. Hart Merriam (5,000 items; 1873-1938) [catalog record], whose wife Virginia Elizabeth Gosnell (d. 1937) accompanied him on his many trips to the American West to study Native American culture, record local flora and fauna, and compile Indian vocabularies.

Another example of a husband-wife collaboration may be found in the papers of Merle Antony Tuve (147,000 items; 1901-82; bulk 1941-66) [catalog record], whose wife, Dr. Winifred Gray Whitman, worked with him in analyzing the effects on animals of high frequency resonance radiation.

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Letter from Alexander Graham Bell to Mabel Hubbard Bell, August 8, 1875. Manuscript Division.
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The family papers of inventor and educator Alexander Graham Bell (147,700; 1834-1974) [catalog record] include correspondence and other papers of his mother Eliza Grace Symonds Bell (1809-1897) and his wife Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell (1857-1923), both of whom were deaf, as well as his daughters Marian Hubbard Bell Fairchild (1880-1962), a suffragist and author, and Elsie May Bell Grosvenor (1878-1964), a suffragist and explorer. Selected items from the papers of the Alexander Graham Bell Family are available on the Library of Congress American Memory Web site.

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