The Schlesinger Library's Gerda Lerner papers focus primarily on her life in the United States and on her professional life as a historian and activist, but in interviews in the collection and in her powerful memoir Fireweed, Lerner opens a window onto the early years that shaped the woman she became.
The Schlesinger Library holdings date from the founding of the United States to the present and include more than 3,200 manuscript collections, 100,000 volumes of books and periodicals, and films, photos, and audiovisual material.
Researchers travel from around the world to use the manuscript collections of Julia Child, the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Maud Wood Park, and Betty Friedan or to examine comics like Ms. Marvel and periodicals like Bust.
You may learn about the daily lives of notable American women, who reveal their experiences across centuries and geography.
- Susan B. Anthony
- Amelia Earhart
- Betty Friedan
- Emma Goldman
- June Jordan
- Pauli Murray
In our collections, you'll find family papers that include correspondence from budding courtships, poignant letters home, and scrawled notes from summer camp.
- The Blackwell Family Papers
- The Hamilton Sisters
- The Poor Family Papers
Our manuscript holdings also include minutes, correspondence, newsletters, and other records of women's organizations, groups, and agencies.
- Boston and Cambridge YWCAs
- Boston-area settlement houses
- Lamaze International
- National Organization for Women
- Wider Opportunities for Women
The library holds more than 100,000 volumes, ranging from rare 16th-century texts to 21st-century titles. Approximately 20,000 of these volumes are cookbooks or food related.
- Books owned by Alice Stone Blackwell, Julia Child, Marilyn Monroe, and Ella Fitzgerald
- James C. Whitten Collection on the History of Vegetarianism
- Nineteenth-century etiquette manuals and advice literature
- Titles inscribed by Helen Keller, Alice Paul, and Susan B. Anthony
- Twenty-first-century romance and graphic novels
- Woman's Rights and College Equal Suffrage League collections
The library subscribes to more than 250 current periodicals on a variety of topics related to women and girls. We also hold extensive runs of many historic titles and a world-class collection of food journals.
- Godey's Ladies Book
The library holds both unpublished and published audiovisual materials.
Unpublished materials were acquired as part of manuscript collections. We currently hold more than 16,500 items in all formats, including documentaries, interviews, talk shows, speeches, oral histories, and home movies and films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
- Betty Friedan audio interviews
- The Black Women's Oral History Project
- June Jordan reading her poetry
Our published audiovisual materials are relatively few in number and include many pop culture titles.
- The Gilmore Girls
- The L Word
- Murphy Brown
As a researcher, you may access some of our library material online, and more of these resources will become available over time.
- The Beecher-Stowe Family Papers (in process of being digitized)
- The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Collection
- Schlesinger titles in Google Books
We have launched a program to capture materials that were "born digital."
- Capturing Women's Voices on the Web (blogs and websites)
- Schlesinger Library Sites (web presence of women and organizations whose papers the Schlesinger holds)
The Schlesinger Library holds more than 150,000 images, including all varieties of photographic and photomechanical formats, as well as some original graphic material. The images represent the work of both professional and amateur artistic and documentary photographers.
- Ansel Adams
- Jessie Tarbox Beals
- Mathew Brady
- Marjory Collins
- Diana Mara Henry
- Frances Johnston
- Martha Stewart