PUL honors Women's History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Princeton University Library (PUL) highlights a selection of collection items that speak to the efforts of female writers, suffragettes, and others who directly support issues related to women’s rights.

Digital Portal for the Miriam Y. Holden Collection

Miriam Y. Holden

Miriam Y Holden.

Here you will find digitized copies of the items in Holden's collection, which is continuously added to through researcher requests and staff nominations. These holdings are a highlight of Princeton library. Not only as a paragon for its subject matter - material related to the history of women and the ongoing battle for women's rights and recognition - but also as one of the few examples of a women's collection that was kept intact following her death.

Simone de Beauvoir Letters to Françoise and Hélène de Beauvoir, 1914-1968 (mostly 1918-1968)

Simone de Beauvoir attending the ceremony of 6th Anniversary of Founding of Communist China in Beijing on 1 October 1955

Simone de Beauvoir in 1955. Public domain-dedicated image from Wikimedia Commons.

This collection consists of over 400 letters from French writer, philosopher, and feminist theorist Simone de Beauvoir to her mother, Françoise de Beauvoir, and sister, Hélène de Beauvoir (also referred to as Henriette), dating from October 1918 to December 1968.


Pank-a-squith and “Sexual Revolutions”

Pank-a-squith board game

Princeton University Library’s copy of Pank-a-squith, a political board game about the suffragette movement was on display as part of Sara Howard and Emma Sarconi’s Writing Seminar, “Sexual Revolutions.” The course investigated the tension between cultural transformation and institutional stasis, and used the dynamic social meaning of gender to explore that interplay. The game lives in PUL Special Collections.

Hedi Bak Graphic Arts aquisitions

Among our recent acquisitions is a collection of pieces by Hedi Bak. A printmaker, painter, and educator, Bak’s commitment to art was influenced by her formative years during the rise of fascism and World War II, as well as her life as an immigrant

Sirleaf Market Women's Fund Records

The Sirleaf Market Women's Fund (SMWF) was a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the livelihoods of market women in post-war Liberia. SWMF was founded in 2007 and named after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the 24th president of Liberia and Africa's first female president. The collection documents the operations of SMWF International, the fundraising arm of SMWF, including its administration, governance, outreach, finances, fundraising, and programming.

Collection Items Recommended by Emma Sarconi

A portrait of Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell. Public domain image.

Reference Professional for Special Collections Emma Sarconi suggests the following items from the PUL Catalog in recognition of Women’s History Month, including the papers of journalist Mildred Gilman Wohlforth and the first biography of Charlotte Bronte written by Elizabeth Gaskell, which Gaskell gave to author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The Edward Livingston and Delafield Family Papers

The Edward Livingston papers and Delafield Family papers are two of Special Collections most significant early American collections. Both extensively document the role of women in the Livingston and Delafield families. Of particular interest are the records related to Margaret Beekman Livingston and Janet Livingston Montgomery, both of whom owned and managed their lands independently of their male relatives. The Delafield papers include documentation of Violetta Susan Elizabeth White Delafield, who was a botanist, scientific illustrator, and taxonomist in the field of mycology. Additionally, we recently digitized the papers of Louise Livingston and Coralie Livingston Barton and the materials are freely available on the finding aids site. Many other women are also documented in both of these collections, and further research into them holds promise for the study of 19th and 20th century American women.

Varied Activities of Women tells little known stories about women's history

Inez Millholland, a suffragist, at a March on Washington.

Inez Millholland, a suffragist, at a March on Washington. Public domain image.

How do you research an early 20th century female wreckage diver whose entire career is summarized in a couple sentences in the Chicago Tribune? Reference Professional for Special Collections Emma Sarconi and Gender and Sexuality Studies Librarian Sara Howard set out to answer that question through their project and Wintersession course, “​​An Archival Treasure Hunt in the Chicago Daily Tribune’s Varied Activities of Women Column.”

Works by 19th-century Mexican authoress María Enriqueta Camarillo

Mexican poet, novelist, and translator María Enriqueta Camarillo (1872–1968)

María Enriqueta Camarillo (1872–1968). Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Princeton University Library holds a number of works by the Mexican poet, novelist, and translator María Enriqueta Camarillo (1872–1968), including novellas, poetry, and books. 

Miriam Holden Collection

Over the course of her life, Miriam Y. Holden amassed one of the United States’ great private libraries on women’s history. In 1960, she noted in a speech to fellow bibliophiles that "throughout the ages men have recorded with care the achievements of men, and yet kept all too few records of the story of women." And so, "to reveal women's part in the making of long history," she assembled a remarkable collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, clippings, photographs, cartoons, letters, and other materials about women and their achievements. After her death in 1977, her husband, Arthur C. Holden '12, presented this trove of 6,000 volumes to Princeton. 

Reproductive Justice Resources

Covers of books related to reproductive justice and its intersectional relationships with race, class, and gendPUL is home to a number of items related to reproductive justice and its intersectional relationships with race, class, and gender studies.

Reproductive Justice: An Introduction
Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundations, Theory, Practice, Critique
The Movement for Reproductive Justice: Empowering Women of Color Through Social Activism
Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories
Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth

Journal by Countess Lydia Rostoptchine (1867-1873)

 The inside cover page of Lydia Rostopchine’s Journal

Caption: The inside cover page of Lydia Rostopchine’s Journal. Image from PUL archives.

Countess Lydia Rostoptchine was born into the upper echelon of 19th century Russian aristocracy. Her paternal grandfather was Count Fyodor Vasilyevich Rostopchin (1763-1826), who was appointed military governor of Moscow in May 1812 and is believed to be the one who ordered the evacuated city be burned to the ground to prevent Napoleon's army from seizing control of it.

This piece is an unpublished Rostoptchine manuscript journal containing meticulous notes of six years of extensive reading of Russian, French and other European literature, history and philosophy.

Mary A. Livermore Collection

Mary Ashton Rice Livermore (1820-1905)

Mary Ashton Rice Livermore (1820-1905). Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Mary Ashton Rice Livermore (1820-1905) of Boston, Massachusetts, was an American suffragette and reformer. This collection features the writings of Livermore – autograph notes, drafts, typescripts, and reprints of several lectures, articles and short stories by or pertaining to Mary Livermore – along with manuscripts of poetry by Hezekiah Butterworth and Lillie J. Davis.

Related news and blogposts: 

“How History is Made”: In Search of Princeton’s First African American Daughter
PUL acquires collections documenting women's experiences in early America
PUL acquires limited-run items from the 20th-Century Black Arts Movement 
PUL identifies women in the Latin America manuscripts collections, securing a place in history
Virtual teaching with Special Collections: ‘Colonial Spanish American Literature: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’
Yours, mine, and hers: Her Book project identifies missing female book ownership in PUL collections


Published on March 1, 2023

Compiled by: Office of Library Communications

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communication