Crowdsourcing in the Age of COVID

We promised pizza.

When the In Her Own Right project team started planning our second Metadata Enhancement Event, we thought we’d be sitting together in a computer lab on Drexel’s campus. And if you’re asking volunteers to help you, you gotta offer them pizza.

But when the specter of COVID-19 loomed before us, we knew we had to move our event online. Luckily, the PACSCL community rallied around us, and the event far exceeded our expectations.

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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 kathryn.antonelli@temple.edu.

Mary and the Devil

Quaker minister Mary Kite was not like most Friends you may have heard of. Kite was born only a few months before well-known Quaker minister Lucretia Mott (Kite in late 1792, Mott at the start of 1793), and like Mott she was an outspoken woman who traveled widely to spread her message. However, in many ways the two were strikingly different. 

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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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