FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2008
Contact: Jennifer M. Guild, Senior Officer for Public Relations and Marketing
Tel: (804) 342-9665 | Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org | View the guide online
Witchcraft, Childbirth, Suffrage, and Civility
Guide to Women's History Manuscripts Now Online at the VHS
Richmond, VA – The Virginia Historical Society (VHS) recently launched an electronic, searchable guide on its web site (www.vahistorical.org) that will make the stories of Virginia women more accessible to the general public. Documenting Women's Lives: A User's Guide to Manuscripts at the Virginia Historical Society includes information about thousands of materials related to women's history that are available in the Society's collection.
"The manuscript collection constitutes the single most significant component of the research collections at the VHS," said E. Lee Shepard, Director of Manuscripts at the Society. "Putting the material in this guide online gives the VHS the opportunity to make descriptions of the contents of this extraordinary holding readily accessible to researchers of all kinds in venues other than the institution's own library reading room."
The guide, published in 1996, is meant to be used as a finding aid and lists materials such as letters, diaries, official records, reminiscences, and commonplace books that were created by or relate to women. Each listing includes a short description of the material so researchers can determine if the document or collection would be of assistance to them. If users would like to see an item listed in the guide, they may visit the Society's research library or contact the reference staff by telephone or email regarding copies.
"The VHS always had intentions of putting the reference guide online to allow international access via the Internet," said Shepard. "Printed guides are out of date practically as soon as they are published. Having the Documenting Women's Lives guide on the VHS web site allows our staff to update the contents quarterly as we receive and process new collections. The online version of the guide already has 28% more material than the printed resource."
Documenting Women's Lives includes material written about such topics as religion, divorce, insanity, politics, agriculture, social work, childbirth, immigration, witchcraft, and military service. The printed volume proved enormously popular, selling out very quickly.
"Scholars of women's history have shown us that the experiences of women provide remarkable insights into the past," said Charles F. Bryan, Jr., President and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society. "The written records left by women describe the joys and sorrows of daily life, the warmth of love and friendships, the strengths and weaknesses of women, and the complex relationship between genders. Those observations provide distinctive perspectives on the times in which the writers lived. To ignore information in such sources would be to neglect a key ingredient in the historical record."
"We expect the online guide to be very successful because people don’t always know how or where to find primary sources for information that they are looking for," Shepard added. “Now high school students writing history papers, family researchers, scholars, and authors can find related material here by typing in a name or topic into a Google or Yahoo! search."
The published and online versions of Documenting Women's Lives: A User's Guide to Manuscripts at the Virginia Historical Society were made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
Other manuscripts available on the VHS website include a Guide to African American Manuscripts in the Collection of the Virginia Historical Society and Virginia's Civil War: A Guide to Manuscripts at the Virginia Historical Society.
The Virginia Historical Society is located at 428 N. Boulevard. The Story of Virginia, An American Experience, a 10,000-square-foot exhibition with more than a thousand objects covering all of Virginia history from prehistoric
times to the present is featured in the Robins Center for Virginia History. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am - 5pm
and Sunday 1pm - 5pm (Museum Galleries and Shop only). Admission: $5/adults, $4/seniors 55+ ($2/Tuesdays–galleries
only), $3/children and students, free/members. Admission to the galleries is free on Sundays. For group tour
information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, please call (804) 358-4901 or visit