Many historians categorize the feminist movements of the 20th-century and early 21st-century in "waves." During each of these waves, feminists made efforts to break onto new frontiers. For example, early-20th-century first-wave feminism encompassed efforts such as suffrage and women's participation in civic life, and mid-20th-century second-wave feminism addressed issues women faced in what were traditionally considered more personal spaces, such as the home, in addition to advocating for greater participation for women in public spaces where they had historically been excluded. Many factions of the feminist movements that occurred in the 20th and early 21st centuries intersected with racial justice movements and LGBTQ+ movements, advocating for the normalization of an expanded understanding of gender and sexuality.
Researchers interested in first-wave feminism and the topic of women's suffrage will find relevant materials below in the books and journals section of this page; however, to explore archival material related to first-wave feminism, researchers should explore the Suffrage subtopic of this research guide.
Below you'll find organizations and individuals whose work relates to the feminist movements of the 20th-century and early 21st-century available at the Schlesinger Library, including archival material, books, and journals and newsletters covering the topic. Materials that have been digitized and are available for remote access are listed first for each category, and materials that must be accessed in-person are listed second.
Additionally, researchers working on projects related to this topic will find many of the Schlesinger Library's LGBTQ guide, Zines guide, International Women's Year guide, Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment guide, and the Catching the Wave: Photographs of the Women's Movement guide of interest.
Further material on the topic can be found by searching HOLLIS, Harvard's online library catalog, for "feminism," "first-wave feminism," "second-wave feminism," "Black feminism," "womanism," "women's liberation," "lesbian feminism," "gay rights," and "LGBTQ."
The library's published material collections are a rich source of information. Below, you'll find a sampling of books and journals available to researchers online and researchers able to visit the library in-person, but a much larger selection is available through HOLLIS, Harvard University's catalog. To find material available at the Schlesinger Library, use the "Advanced Search" feature and limit your search to "Library Catalog. Choose "Schlesinger" from the "Scope" drop-down menu. Finally, select "Books" or "Journals" from the "Resource Type" drop-down menu. This search results list for the keyword "women's liberation" serves as an example of the breadth of books available in the Schlesinger Library's collection.
Please note that some materials labeled as available "Online" in the library catalog may require HarvardKey access for remote access. During an in-person visit, you can access those materials on the Library's public computers.