Register Now! 8/18 Data Jam with In Her Own Right & Louisiana Digital Library

Screenshot of an InfoVis data visualization.

What: Data Jam

When: August 18, 2020, 2pm-5pm EDT

Who: Anyone interested in digital humanities, data, digital collections, or the history of activism.

Registration link: Registration form


On August 18th, celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment by promoting access to the history of activism! Join the project team of In Her Own Right, a PACSCL-sponsored project, in partnership with the Louisiana Digital Library. Together we’ll build subject guide visualizations that reveal new ways to interact with digitized historical materials related to women’s activism as well as activism in Louisiana.

Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in this virtual Zoom-based event via one of two tracks.

Track One: A hands-on workshop that will introduce you to the InfoVis toolkit, and will culminate in building your very own RGraph data visualization. Participation in this track will require you to download the InfoVis toolkit and use a text editor on your own computer. 

Track Two: A dive into the metadata for In Her Own Right, Louisiana Digital Library, and (if time permits) your own institution’s digital holdings. Participation in this track will allow you to identify themes running through the corpus and to highlight collections that exemplify these themes. This track will build the basis of the data visualizations, but focuses on research and data entry and does not require any technical expertise.

Please note: Both tracks are open to all experience levels. We strive to create a welcoming environment and to build community around this work. This event adopts the Collections as Data Code of Conduct. (This is also meant to be fun; let’s all just have fun.) 

We’ll end our event with a demonstration of the completed data visualizations, and a “toast” (BYOB) to the women suffragists and other activists whose history we’re striving to share.

Please register in advance via this registration form. Hope to see you there!

History of the The Young Women’s Union and Neighborhood Centre

The Young Women’s Union (YWU) was established in 1885 and formally incorporated in 1896 as a community service organization and settlement house in Philadelphia. The YWU was initially led by Frannie Binswanger and thirty other young women from middle class Jewsh families in Philadelphia who desired to provide services for immigrants, including education and recreation. Binswanger, the daughter of a Rabbi, was born in Philadelphia and was an active member at Mikveh Israel, now the oldest continuous synagogue in the United States.

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The Women’s Auxiliary of the German Society of Pennsylvania

While many of the archival collections that have been digitized as part of the In Her Own Right project tell stories of women advocating on behalf of issues such as temperance and women’s suffrage, the records of the Women’s Auxiliary of the German Society of Pennsylvania tell something of a different story, a story of women’s role in a traditional men’s organization. 

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In Her Own Right is seeking “Hidden Voices”!

In Her Own Right has been working hard to bring to light stories of women fighting for their rights and the rights of others, but we know can do better–and we need your help! Our collections as they currently stand focus primarily on the perspectives of women who are white and middle or upper class. In order to work towards a more complete record of activist women from 1820-1920, In Her Own Right is searching for “hidden voices”. This NEH-funded portion of our project involves seeking out additional Philadelphia-area collections from beyond the PACSCL sphere that document underrepresented or marginalized populations. In some cases, such records are embedded among the personal papers of men, or the papers of organizations whose connections to these women are not readily apparent.

These “hidden voices” might include:

  • Women of color, including indigenous women
  • Immigrant women
  • Women with disabilities/disabled women, including neurodiverse women and women who struggled with mental health issues
  • Women in lower socioeconomic positions
  • Criminal women, or women who practiced criminalized professions such as sex work
  • LGBT+ women (considering the scope of our time period, this should be understood to include any women who practiced non-normative sexual/romantic relationships or gender presentation)

Repositories where we might find these records could include:

  • HBCUs
  • Churches and religious organizations
  • Community organizations
  • Small schools and colleges
  • Historical societies

As part of our search process, once repositories have been identified, our Project Manager communicates with them and (ideally) arranges a visit to take a look at collections that might fit. We’re happy to include materials via a number of solutions–including digitization if the home repository is comfortable, and a collection description if not. While our initial research has identified some potential candidates, we don’t know what we don’t know! If you have an idea of a collection that may fit, please contact Kat at

Different Type of Activism: Chloe Cudsworth Littlefield, Private Duty Nurse

The following post was originally published in The Chronicle in Fall 2003. The Bates Center’s collections highlight the boundaries women as nurses crossed as well as the empowerment they created for themselves and for the profession. The basic idea of hiring nurses raised profound anxiety about class systems and private versus public spaces. Philadelphia’s nursing pioneers changed the idea of hiring nurses for quality care both at home and in hospitals. The history of nursing, and of healthcare, demonstrates the intersections of race, economics, and society, particularly in the decades leading to the ratification of the 19th Amendment. 

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Lost in the Archives: Pondering the Lives of White Seamstresses

My work with PACSCL’s grant funded digitization project, In Her Own Right, over the last year has been very rewarding. I worked on several aspects of the project, from scanning materials to transcriptions. The transcriptions of letters of recommendation for the seamstresses who worked at the Schuylkill Arsenal during the Civil War influenced me the most. While working on these transcriptions, I began to think about these women: who were they, how were they able to provide for their families during this time of war, and were black women among the seamstresses?  

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The Correspondence of M. Carey Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Garrett

Bryn Mawr College digitized a portion of the M. Carey Thomas Papers for In Her Own Right, including letters to and from her companion Mary Elizabeth Garrett. They were progressive women who did important work, but they also held and expressed some problematic views.

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Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School: The Origins of Mercy-Douglass Hospital

On the evening of October 31st, 1895, an enthusiastic audience gathered at the Wesley A.M.E Zion Church for the opening ceremonies of the newly established Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School. While Philadelphia had a number of medical training schools, most refused to admit people of color. Being excluded from formal medical training, concerned community members gathered to find a way to train African Americans to be able to compete with others and find employment in the medical field. Read on to find out more about how Mercy Douglass Hospital came to be.

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