Sometimes, it’s downright difficult, if not impossible, to locate information about female ancestors. Unless you have had way more success than me, you probably have quite a few ancestors with the last name of (MNU) – maiden name unknown.
This list of resources telling the stories of collective women’s lives throughout American history and of accomplishments of individual women won’t eliminate the (MNU) issue, but may help you put some flesh on the bones of your female ancestors. If you are really lucky, you might find a biography about a direct or collateral line in your family tree.
You may be familiar with names like Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton, but who were Sybil Luddington, Lydia Taft of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, Bathsheba Spooner and Elizabeth Blackwell? Each has a story to tell.
These websites, books and other resources, for the most part, aren’t in any particular order, but some of the links, such as suffrage and wartime, are grouped.
Pennsylvania Women in the American Revolution – by William Henry Egle, 1898; link is to PDF in FamilySearch books
DoHistory – Online diary of Martha Ballard from the early 1800s
Representative Women of New England, by Julia Ward Howe, editor, 1904, digital book on HathiTrust
Our Famous Women: Comprising the Lives and Deeds of American Women. . ., by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1883, link on HathiTrust
Profiles of Ohio Women, 1803-2003, by Jacqueline Jones Royster, 2003; HathiTrust has a link to search the book, but check WorldCat for libraries that have the book.
Index of References to American Women in Colonial Newspapers – Helen F. Evans. This link to HathiTrust provides a search of the three volumes. Check WorldCat to locate libraries that have the books.
Mothers of Maine – by Helen Coffin Beedy, digital copy of the 1895 version. There is a 2012 reprint that can be purchased online.
Botany Mills – factory life in Passaic, New Jersey
Lowell Mill Girls – industrial life in Lowell, Massachusetts
The Gerritsen Collection of Women’s History, 1543-1945. 1 :A Bibliographic Guide to the Microform Collection, by Duane R. Bogenschneider, 1983.
To learn about the historical aspects of women’s suffrage, here are some resources with which to begin, but be sure to check for state, county and local resources:
Chronicling America – newspaper articles
History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, by Ida Husted Harper, Editor, 1922. Google Books link
Elizabeth Cady Stanton – The History Channel
Susan B. Anthony – The History Channel
The Original March on Washington and the Suffragists Who Paved the Way – The Smithsonian
The Senate Passes the Woman Suffrage Amendment- United States Senate
Woman Suffrage – National Geographic Society
Woman Suffrage – The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Woman Suffrage – The National Museum of American History
Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment – The National Archives
Women’s Suffrage – Wikipedia article includes data from other countries besides the U.S.
Women’s Suffrage – The History Channel
Women and the World Wars:
Library of Congress: On the Homefront – Patriotic Support, America During World War I and World War II
Wikipedia: American Women in World War I
U.S. History: America in the Second World War
In addition to these vintage, out-of-copyright books, there are hundreds, if not thousands of 20th century and 21st century books written about individual women and groups of women, women’s movements through history in just about every location in the United States. Use an internet search engine and/or WorldCat, HathiTrust and GoogleBooks, as many previews can be accessed.