Taking “In Her Own Right” to Social Studies Teachers

By Caroline Hayden

Earlier this spring, In Her Own Right (InHOR)  presented at the 116th Annual Conference of Middle States Council for the Social Studies in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Together with Mariam Williams from our sister project, “Chronicling Resistance, Enabling Resistance,” I spoke to Social Studies educators from high schools and  the higher education field about the resources that can be accessed through both PACSCL projects. The conference turnout was high even with the inclement weather, and there were many opportunities for great conversation about teaching the history of women’s rights activism and resistance movements, using archival collections.

Images of Lucretia Mott (Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College); page from the friendship album of Amy Matilda Cassey (Library Company of Philadelphia); Caroline Katzenstein (Historical Society of Pennsylvania); Emily Greene Balch (Peace Collection, Swarthmore College)
Left to right: Lucretia Mott (Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College); page from the friendship album of Amy Matilda Cassey (Library Company of Philadelphia); Caroline Katzenstein (Historical Society of Pennsylvania); Emily Greene Balch (Peace Collection, Swarthmore College)

The presentation touched upon the most important elements of InHOR: the collection materials and the additional project resources. To support the project’s mission of bringing together collections in the region that document the work women accomplished before the 19th amendment’s ratification, diverse collections were highlighted as well as the backgrounds of women and organizations represented in the project. Women like Lucretia Mott, Amy Matilda Cassey, Emily Greene Balch, and Caroline Katzenstein were highlighted in the presentation. Organizations such as the Octavia Hill Association and the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania were discussed.

In addition to the women, I also focused on the materials in the collection. These items being digitized by our partnering institutions provide insight into the minds and lives of women like Caroline Katzenstein, who worked to connect two woman suffrage groups with very different attitudes on achieving suffrage. Showing conference attendees how the records in the project database connect to their home repository and related materials allowed them to see how the InHOR project will provide greater access not only to InHOR materials, but to more materials at each institution. The records, coupled with the project’s exhibits, essays, and raw data, will result in a comprehensive learning resource for educators and students.

Mariam’s portion of the presentation provided a great example of how primary resources like the materials being digitized for InHOR are being used in a modern setting. Her work with Philadelphia archives and the surrounding communities to build connections between today’s resistance movements to the long history of resistance can serve as inspiration for educators looking to make those connections in the classroom. Together, Mariam and I showed how historical material is being made available in many ways to facilitate these educational opportunities.

Attendees expressed an interest in the supplemental materials provided on the InHOR project website, and how additions will provide continued support for educational resources online. It is our hope that educators will make use of these materials within and outside the classrooms, and that these materials will be a mainstay like so many of the other wonderful historical resources provided online. The InHOR project team looks forward to many more opportunities for reaching out to educators and researchers!