Navigating the Web Site
There are many paths to access the resources that comprise Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, and, because different users will have different purposes in mind when they come to the website, there is no single "best way" to proceed. The site has a great many primary and secondary sources and a variety of powerful tools to facilitate access to its resources. An overview of its tools and content will permit you to use this online database more effectively. The database is a dynamic resource and, as new issues of the online journal are published, the database contents will change.
At the top of the Navigation Bar on the website home page, click on Current Issue to access the table of contents of the most recent issue of the Women and Social Movements (WASM) online journal. The WASM journal makes quarterly additions to the database, including document projects, book reviews, website reviews, teaching tools, and full-text sources. You can link to new document projects that particularly interest you and read it as you would any journal article. You can begin with the introduction to each document project, which offers an overview of the project, or you can scan the project's document list and view the project’s primary sources. From the table of contents for the most recent issue you will also find links to the tables of contents of the three previous issues. You can scan these back issues in the same way as the current issue. In this way you can view all that has been added to the database in the past year.
A good way to access the site’s resources is to employ the Browse tool on the navigation bar of the site's home page. The Browse command permits you to access the main content of the database--Document Projects, Sources, Documents, Images, and Teaching Tools. It also gives you access to index tools for analyzing the content—Authors, Social Movements, and Subjects.
- Browse-Document Projects:
Document Projects constitute the unique feature of the database. For a chronological list of Document Projects select Browse-Document Projects. Document Projects are listed by their most pertinent date. Also listed are each project’s author and title, and links are provided to the project as a whole, to documents in the project, and to the project’s bibliographic information.
Document Projects offer an innovative format that unites a group of documents in ways that facilitate scholars’ and students’ access to the documents. Each project poses a specific question and presents documents that address the question.
The chronological list of projects begins with an undated composite document project, "What Are Social Movements?" that draws documents from a variety of other document projects. It provides a theoretical overview designed to help users of the website. Currently the earliest project, dated 1780, focuses on the Ladies Association of Philadelphia and the group’s contribution to patriot soldiers during the American Revolution. Our latest project focuses on the Violence Against Women Act, enacted into law in 1994.
Links at the top of the chronological list of document projects permit users to sort the list by title and publication date. If you use the website regularly, viewing document projects by publication date will permit you quickly to examine new projects published since you last visited the website.
We began the publication of Document Projects in December 1997, when the website was housed at the State University of New York at Binghamton. The first projects were extensively edited and reorganized versions of projects initiated by Binghamton students. In 2003 we began publishing Document Projects organized and written by historians and advanced history graduate students, and in March 2004, WASM became an online quarterly journal. By early 2005 we had published 57 different Document Projects including more than 1,500 primary documents and 600 images.
To view a list of all authors in the database, select Browse-Authors. As of January 2005 there were 1,241 primary and 69 secondary authors in the database. Primary authors are the authors of one or more primary documents included in the database; secondary authors are the authors of document projects, teaching tools, or other secondary sources included on the website. If you are interested in a particular author or group of authors, you can scroll through the Browse Authors table of contents and see what biographical information we have collected on the author(s) in question and how many documents written by that author are included in the database. A click on the biographical details column for an individual author will produce a page including all the indexing information we have compiled on that person. The number of documents by each author is noted in the Documents column. A click on the number in the Documents column will produce a listing of all documents authored by that individual that are currently in the database. These numbers will change as new document projects and full-text sources are added to the database.
The term Sources refers to all types of materials included in the database: document projects, individual documents and images in the projects, teaching tools and full-text books, pamphlets, and conference proceedings that have been key entered into the database. To explore the database sources select Browse-Sources. The list is organized by kinds of sources; the types listed across the top show the range and frequency of sources on the website. For instance, in January 2005 the database included 222 books, 595 journal articles, 121 manuscripts, and 69 pamphlets. You may also organize this list by year or title. By clicking on Full-text Only you can access those titles for which the full text of the entire work is available--76 items in January 2005, containing 20,000 pages pertaining to the history of the struggle for women's rights and woman suffrage, 1830-1930. Knowing which books are available in full-text format in the database permits you to employ the site's search capability more effectively. The full-text portion of the database will grow by about 5,000 pages annually, focusing on other themes related to the history of women and social movements in the United States.
The term Documents refers to all documents in the database—those contained in Document Projects and those in Full Text Sources. The bibliographical coding of Documents on the website includes advertisements, chapters of books, diaries, images, legal documents, letters, and speeches. Some Full Text Sources include many documents. For example, the six-volume work, The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Stanton, Anthony, and others, has six entries for its individual volumes in the table of contents for sources, but it includes more than six hundred items individually listed as documents. This makes it possible to identify speeches, letters and chapters (and their authors) within Full Text Sources.
One can view these separate documents, with appropriate bibliographical information, in the Browse-Documents list. In January 2005, this list included almost 5,600 items, including more than 1,100 images, 969 letters, and 846 speeches. You may rearrange this list to reflect your interests, exploring it by year, author, or title. Organizing the listing by author, for instance, reveals sixteen items by Jane Addams, twenty-nine by Susan B. Anthony, and two by Bella Abzug, to name just three authors found among the A's. Conversely, organizing the listing by document dates reveals thirty-four items dated before 1800 compared to 1,214 items dating from the 1890s. In this way you can see the current chronological strengths and limitations of the database as they pertain to your interests.
- Browse-Social Movements:
The Browse-Social Movements command on the home page Navigation Bar produces an alphabetical listing of ninety social movements or social movement organizations that are important in U.S. Women's History and are well represented in the database. For each social movement or organization, we offer a brief description and we also indicate the number of related documents in the database. For example, there are forty-three documents in the database relating to the Age of Consent movement and five relating to the American Birth Control League. We list separately documents that discuss an organization and those that were authored by the organization. If you click on either of these listings, you can view a list of the documents with these references and may choose to open those documents and read further. For each social movement or organization we also offer a link to a page permitting users of the database to access the organizational details that we have about each social movement or organization.
The Chronology link on the home-page Navigation Bar takes one to a chronological list of significant events in U.S. Women's History. Naming seventy-three events, the Chronology then offers links to documents found in either the document projects or the full-text sources on the website. As we add new documents to the database, our links in this area will also expand. If you want to use the database in conjunction with a specific historical event, check this chronology first and quickly find your way to documents related to your focus.
You can also acquaint yourself with the database by utilizing the commands grouped in the Find section of the Navigation Bar. You can search for Sources, Authors or Social Movements.
Find-Authors opens up an author search screen with a variety of search variables. If you search for the race of an author, a drop-down menu will appear listing the range of values for race. Highlighting Black and then searching produces an alphabetical list with 114 authors (about 11 percent of all authors for whom race is known) and 374 documents. Native American authors are much less frequent, numbering seven authors of seven documents. You may also search by gender, nationality, birthplace, ancestry, religion or social movement, or you may narrow your results by combining any number of these terms in a single search. A search for black female authors born before 1850, for instance yields ten authors of thirty-seven documents in the database, while a search for black female authors affiliated with the temperance movement finds ten authors of twenty documents in the database.
The Find-Movements command permits you to search the database using a growing set of index terms relating to social movements and social movement organizations. In all, almost eight hundred social movements or social movement organizations are currently accessed through this command. You can click on a given window and select a particular value from a series of drop-down menus. If you select Black in the race window, you'll find references to 102 different African-American social movements or organizations, organizational details about each, and from one to thirty links to documents in the database that relate to the organization in question. Another field for searching is that of key people. You may select individuals from an extensive alphabetical list. In the process you can find that Susan B. Anthony was associated with at least fourteen movements or organizations with 255 associated documents. Jane Addams is shown as connected with six organizations or groups with 303 related documents. You can also explore along lines of associations' reform focus. Selecting from a drop-down menu of index terms reveals eleven abolition organizations with 208 associated documents in the database. The variety of index terms for the Find-Movements screen and the detailed indexing throughout the database sources make the Find Movements command a valuable tool for research.
The Search Texts command on the Navigation Bar on the home page provides access to Simple and Advanced text searching across the database. From the simple search screen one can search for a word or group of words throughout the database, or one can employ and extensive subject index to search for relevant documents. One finds, for example, that there are 71 documents relating to lynching, 70 documents relating to the age of consent, 47 related to contraception, and 205 related to civil rights. You can also limit your search to a particular individual or corporate author or to a specific source.
The website's most powerful text searching and indexing capabilities are associated with the Advanced Text Search. Selecting this feature from the Navigation Bar opens up a search page with a window for a full-text search string, a group of windows to specify the identity or characteristics of the author, and a third group of windows to specify indexing terms for the document. A few diverse examples illustrate the power of these search capabilities. If we search for documents written by women between 1850 and 1880 that deal with temperance or temperance groups, we find that there are seventeen different documents that meet these search criteria. If we change the time period to 1910-1930, we find only two documents. If we look for additional documents written by men between 1850 and 1880 dealing with temperance or temperance groups we find twenty-eight documents--enough to permit one to write a paper on gendered perspectives on the temperance movement in this period.
The power of the search engine stems from its flexibility: it can search the entire database or search a single document. Suppose that you have been studying an early suffrage activist, Harriet Hanson Robinson of Massachusetts, and you are interested in exploring her attitudes toward the two national suffrage leaders, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. If one selects Advanced Text Search, one can next select the title of Robinson's main work, Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: A General, Political, Legal and Legislative History From 1774 to 1881, and paste it into the Source window on the Advanced Text Search frame. Two successive searches for references to Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Cady Stanton reveal 41 and 17 links respectively. Reading these marked passages provides a preliminary basis for exploring Robinson's relationship with these two suffrage leaders. Another way to employ the search engine would be to use it to find particular kinds of documents. Take for instance the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage. This remarkable source reprinted a great many valuable primary sources. If you enter the six volumes of the History into the Source Title window, you can limit your search to this resource. You can narrow the search further by leaving the text window blank and selecting documents that are speeches. This search reveals that there are 149 speeches reprinted in the six volumes. This search would permit one to access a substantial body of speeches for subsequent analysis. A further specification that the authors of the speeches should be male reveals that 34 of the speeches were given by men, enabling one to analyze the differences between rhetorical strategies employed by male and female speakers as recorded in the History. Selecting further on race indicates that three of the speeches--two by Sojourner Truth and one by Frederick Douglass--were given by African Americans. Selecting characteristics of authors and at the same time searching for strings of words would permit quite focused analysis of these speeches. One could compare speeches given at the women's rights conventions of the 1850s with those offered in other venues in the 1880s. The ability to combine full-text searching with information about authors and publications makes the website’s search capabilities especially strong.
Finally, one can limit a full-text search to a single document project. On the Advanced Text Search screen, go to the menu window for document project and click on the Terms button on the right. A click opens a drop-down menu listing the titles of all document projects. Select a particular project. Go to the full-text window on the menu screen and type in a word or phrase of interest that you hope to find in the document project and click on search. The search will then list all occurrences of your full-text expression in the document project.
These "tips" for utilizing the database only begin to explore the possibilities in the Women and Social Movements website. Explore the website yourself and let us know if you discover interesting ways to access its information. Or let us know if you have questions about using its resources. We would be glad to hear about your successes and help you overcome any problems that develop in the course of your work with the database.
Kathryn Kish Sklar
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