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.
Current Issue

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.

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.
Search Texts

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.

Thomas Dublin
Kathryn Kish Sklar

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