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Penn State University Libraries

Penn State Harrisburg

Alice Marshall Women's History Collection

The Alice Marshall Women's History Collection, part of the Penn State Harrisburg Library's Archives and Special Collections, consists of literary, graphic, and manuscript materials dealing with the issues and individuals that comprised women's history from the 15th century to the early 1980s. Compiled by Alice Kahler Marshall (1923-97), the collection encompasses all areas of women's lives and includes 7,000 books and pamphlets (many of them rare), over 400 periodical titles (magazines and newspapers), and thousands of other materials—sheet music, diaries, posters, postcards, photographs, buttons (relating to wars, political campaigns, and social issues), book and magazine illustrations, advertisements, broadsides, trade cards, fashion plates, manuscript letters and documents, and more.

A digitized collection of Advertising Trade Cards from the Alice Marshall Women's History Collection consists of over 150 advertising trade cards that showcase the 19th- and 20th-century woman as an entrepreneur. The cards in this collection were used as early forms of advertising in America and were given out to promote not only goods but also services. They are diverse in content and feature women working as dressmakers, hairdressers, shop and storekeepers, photographers, wine and liquor dealers, and even spiritual mediums!

Cataloging of the collection is ongoing, and records for the collection can be retrieved through a search in The CAT, the University Libraries' online catalog, and in OCLC's WorldCat database under the title "Alice Marshall Women's History Collection." There is also a separate online list of the women represented in the collection's Individual Personal Name Files.

Books and Pamphlets: Includes rare works by English and American authors from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries. The work of early women printers is well-represented, as are early Quaker and abolitionist tracts, accounts of criminal and divorce trials, travel writings by 19th-century women, propaganda on both sides of the suffrage issue, including Women's Rights Convention programs, and materials on women as both victims and perpetrators of crime.

Periodicals: The Free Enquirer, the Lowell Offering, the Women's Journal, the Revolution, the Forerunner, the Woman Citizen, the Anglo-Saxon Review, Mother Earth, the Suffragist, Godey's, and a complete run of Joanna Brome's Observator (1681-84) are among the many titles. On the lighter side are early 20th-century comic books, including a set of Arietta and the Cowgirls, and also a series of assorted romance comic books from the mid-20th century.

Posters: Large recruiting and home-front posters from World Wars I and II, and decorative advertisements for a 19th-century New York City newspaper are among the varied posters in the collection.

Sheet Music: Spanning 1790 through the mid-20th century, the collection of about 1,000 titles includes music about women, as well as titles by female composers and lyricists. The sheet music covers provide stereotypical visual evidence of suffragettes, immigrants, saintly mothers, bloomer girls, girls gone bad, working girls, and women suffering from the vagaries of love.

Postcards and Valentines: This very large collection of some 7,000 items illustrates very well Mrs. Marshall's interests in the stereotyping of women.

Graphics: Engravings, aquatints, lithographs, hand-colored fashion plates, trade cards, cartoons, and advertisements, largely dating from the mid-1800s through the 1930s.

Manuscript Items: Letters (including those of notable 19th-century literary women), autograph books, travel journals, and legal documents.

Newspapers: Limited runs and single issues of a wide variety of 18th- through early 20th-century American titles (including numerous Pennsylvania papers), as well as some English publications.

Selected Subjects: Abolition - Artists - Birth Control - Captivity - Crime - Divorce - Education - Exposition - Health - Indian Schools - Journalism - Law - Medicine - Musicians - Politics - Radicals - Reform - Religion - Salvation Army - Sanitary Commission - Science - Sexual Harassment - Spouse Abuse - Suffrage - War - Women's Movement - Working Women.