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The humanities teach us where we’ve been through insights gained from history. ProQuest primary sources provide access to profoundly personal documents that promote a deeper understanding and help to develop critical thinking.

“Inspiring Change” is this year's theme for International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8.

Throughout the 20th Century, one organization that played a key role in “inspiring change” and accomplishing change was the National Woman’s Party (NWP). Founded in 1913 by Alice Paul, one of the trademarks of the NWP was its militant approach. During the women’s suffrage campaign from 1913 to 1920, the NWP picketed in front of the White House, held rallies and parades, and campaigned against politicians who did not support voting rights for women.

After winning the right to vote with the ratification of the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, the NWP embarked on a new campaign for equal rights for women. In 1923, Senator Charles Curtis of Kansas and Representative Daniel Anthony, also of Kansas, introduced in the U.S. Congress an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that was drafted by NWP leader Alice Paul. The NWP worked for the ratification of the ERA for over 50 years.

While the campaign for the ERA was the NWP’s top priority after 1920, it also worked for other legislation to expand the rights of women. Major NWP campaigns after 1920 pertained to equal nationality laws and employment laws. In the area of nationality laws, the NWP’s first nationality law triumph was the passage of the Cable Act of 1922 and its greatest victory came in 1934 with the signing of the Equal Nationality Treaty. In employment law, the NWP played a role in the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and in 1964 NWP leaders Alice Paul and Caruthers Berger campaigned successfully for the inclusion of Title VII within the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex.

For researchers interested in the work of the National Woman’s Party, ProQuest offers several essential resources. ProQuest History Vault: Struggle for Women’s Rights module contains the National Woman’s Party Papers. The National Woman’s Party Papers consist of extensive correspondence to and from NWP officials regarding the suffrage campaign, the ERA campaign, and other NWP initiatives; minutes of NWP meetings; photographs of NWP leaders and activities; speeches given at special events; membership and officer lists; committee reports; pledge cards of congressional supporters for the ERA; and reports from government agencies that were collected by the NWP.

[Photo at top: Portion of page from February 16, 1921 National Woman’s Party meeting minutes]

The Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs consists of over two million pages covering more than four centuries of women’s history. Among the over 200 periodical titles, The Gerritsen Collection has two of the periodicals published by the National Woman’s Party: The Suffragist and Equal Rights.

[This photo: Cover page of the June 23, 1917, issue of The Suffragist, from The Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs]

Throughout March we’re celebrating Women’s History Month, and we invite you to explore how women have inspired change with free trials to History Vault’s Women’s Rights Collection (consisting of Struggle for Women’s Rights, 1880–1990: Organizational Records and Women’s Studies Manuscript Collections from the Schlesinger Library) and The Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs.
We also invite you to explore these databases that offer other perspectives on how women have inspired change:

•    GenderWatchTM
•    Women’s Wear Daily Archive
•    The Vogue Archive
•    Queen Victoria’s Journals
•    ProQuest Historical Newspapers™

With real knowledge of the past, we can influence history moving forward. Gain access to the primary sources available in ProQuest’s humanities collections through a free trial today!

Humanities Matter!

11 Mar 2014

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