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Research Guides

19th Century Resources

Why focus on women?

These resources provide insight into the century's social practices, politics, economic policies, and everyday life.

It's also important to note that these resources reveal both female and male experiences in the 19th century, and underline the social expectations for each gender.

The sources will also give you insight into the background of the emerging Suffragist movement that sees widespread expansion in the late 19th century.


British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries (BWLD) 

  • Includes diaries and letters of nearly 500 women spanning more than 300 years
  • Leading bibliographies determine sources
  • Also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources

Defining Gender 1450-1910 
European women's periodicals 

  • PN4700 .E87 1991 #REEL 1-26*27,28-52*53,

Everyday Life and Women in America, c1800-1920 

  • Provides access to rare primary source material from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History, Duke University and The New York Public Library
  • Includes thousands of fully searchable images (alongside transcriptions) of monographs, pamphlets, periodicals and broadsides addressing 19th and early 20th century political, social and gender issues, religion, race, education, employment, marriage, sexuality, home and family life, health, and pastimes

Gerritsen Collection - Women's History Online 
History of Women 

  • FM/2507 /Reel[8-624] OISE for non-periodical material
  • mfm/HQ/1121/H67/1983 reel 1-253 Microtext Collection, Media Commons, Robarts Library for periodical material only
  • Includes rare materials by and about women from the 18th to the 20th centuries
  • Consists of approximately 8,500 volumes of books from 1781 to 1920; 2,000 pamphlets; 117 periodicals; 80,000 pages of manuscripts including diaries, journals, and common place books; and 800 photographs of persons and events, tracing the involvement of women in many different fields

New England Women and their Families in the 18th and 19th Centuries: Personal Papers, Letters, and Diaries 

  • mfm/HQ/1418/N48/1997, Microtext Collection, Media Commons, Robarts Library
  • Includes manuscripts on the New England family and women's history and covers material from a variety of social classes and station

Woman in the nineteenth century, and kindred papers relating to the sphere, condition, and duties of woman (Making of America) 

Women and Victorian values, 1837-1910: Advice Books, Manuals and Journals for Women 

  • HQ1593 .W564 1996 Microtext Collection, Media Commons, Robarts Library
  • Documents the true nature of Victorian values and the roles that men and women were expected to play and the complicity and opposition of women to these roles

Women's suffrage collection from Manchester Central Library 

  • JN979 .W653 1995 Microtext Collection, Robarts Library

Working Women in Victorian Britain, 1850-1910: The Diaries and Letters of Arthur J. Munby (1828-1910) and Hannah Cullwick (1833-1909) 

  • Detailed accounts in diary and letter form by Arthur J Munby (1828-1910), a Victorian poet, barrister and civil servant, and Hannah Cullwick (1833-1909,) Munby's servant, and later wife
  • Included are all of Munby's diaries (64 volumes averaging at least 200 pages each - crammed with detail for gender analyses by the social historian); his 12 notebooks on working women; the 29 volumes of Visits to Hannah; Munby's two volume life of Hannah; 12 further notebooks on Hannah; Hannah's own 16 volume diary; Hannah's autobiography; over 850 letters; the manuscript of Faithful Servants, 2 boxes of manuscript poetry and 7 albums of photographs