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“The morning of October 9, 1938, just before the clock struck the hour of noon in the English room of the Book Cadillac Hotel, will go down in history as an important date, hour and place for women of the world, as marking the beginning of a movement that bids fair to be one of the most important women have ever known.”
—Equal Rights, October 15, 1938
That day, at this historic National Woman’s Party (NWP) meeting in Detroit, Michigan, led by Alice Paul, was the founding of the World Woman’s Party.
In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8 and the 2014 theme “Inspiring Change,” we are highlighting ProQuest databases that document the international struggle for women’s rights. Officially introduced 105 years ago in 1909, the aim of International Women’s Day is to raise awareness of the challenges, struggles, and continuing inequality faced by women worldwide as well as to achieve equal opportunity status in all walks of life.
One outstanding ProQuest resource for studying the international struggle for women’s rights is The Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs. Materials in The Gerritsen Collection span more than four centuries and 15 languages. The Gerritsen Collection consists of over 4,000 monographs and pamphlets, and 265 periodical titles. One of those periodical titles, Equal Rights, traces the efforts of the National Woman’s Party from 1923-1954 as well as the activities of the World Woman’s Party from 1938-1954.
In addition to this coverage, researchers will find records of the World Woman’s Party (WWP) in ProQuest History Vault: Struggle for Women’s Rights, 1880-1990: Organizational Records, National Woman’s Party (NWP) Papers
The formation of the World Woman’s Party in 1938 marked an evolution in the NWP’s involvement with women’s rights issues around the world. In 1928, for example, the NWP played a part in the establishment of the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW) and NWP member Doris Stevens served as chair of the IACW from 1928 to 1937. Beginning in 1930, NWP members, including Alice Paul, Ella Riegel, and Grace White, worked for women’s rights with the Women's Consultative Committee of the League of Nations.
By 1938, Alice Paul and others in the NWP decided to form the World Woman's Party (WWP). During its existence from 1938-1954, the WWP established chapters in many countries including Australia, Austria, China, Colombia, India, Norway, and Poland. During World War II, the WWP halted its work for equal rights in favor of assisting European feminists and their families who had fled from the Nazis. After World War II, the WWP focused on making sure that women’s rights issues were included within the human rights concerns of the United Nations.
The World Woman’s Party collection in ProQuest History Vault consists primarily of correspondence on the major campaigns undertaken by the WWP between 1938 and 1954. The WWP collection also includes minutes of WWP meetings, legal papers like the certificate of incorporation, and by-laws, and press releases.
See how women have played important roles in unheralded events from the 18th century through the 20th century with History Vault Women’s Rights Struggle for Women's Rights, 1880–1990 modules. The Organizational Records span the National Woman’s Party Papers documenting the militant aspect of the suffrage campaign in the U.S. and activities, The League of Women Voters, and the Women’s Action Alliance.
While the Women’s Studies Manuscript Collections from the Schlesinger Library cover voting rights, national politics, and reproductive rights telling the story of the movement at the national, regional, and local levels with records from the extensive holdings of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America founded in 1943 at Radcliffe College.
Explore how women have inspired change during Women’s History Month in March. In addition to The Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs and History Vault Women’s Rights, we invite librarians to sign up for free trials to these vital resources: GenderWatch™; ProQuest Historical Newspapers™; Queen Victoria’s Journals; Women’s Wear Daily Archive; The Vogue Archive; The Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War, and other great resources—with content that isn’t available anywhere else.
Photos from The Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs, Equal rights.