Women's Studies at the University of Arkansas Libraries

This guide helps researchers locate and access archival and published materials related to Women's Studies held in the Special Collections and other collections held at the University of Arkansas Libraries.


Women Hillary Rodham Clinton in her office at the University of Arkansas, ca. 1970s.  

This guide is designed to help you find and use sources related to Women's Studies at the University of Arkansas Libraries and beyond.

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Important terms:


Feminism is a belief that although women and men are inherently of equal worth, most societies privilege men as a group. As a result, social movements are necessary to achieve political equality between women and men, with the understanding that gender always intersects with other social hierarchies. --Estelle Freedman

"Third World feminism is about feeding people in all their hungers." --Cherrie Moraga, 1983

Feminism means finally that we renounce our obedience to the fathers and recognize that the world they have described is not the whole world.... Feminism implies that we recognize fully the inadequacy for us, the distortion, of male-created ideologies, and that we proceed to think, and act, out of that recognition." --Adrienne Rich, 1976

"The reason racism is a feminist issue is easily explained by the inherent definition of feminism. Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women --as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement." --Barbara Smith, 1979

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute..." --Rebecca West, The Clarion, 11/14/13



A socially constructed system of classification that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and are different between cultures. Words that refer to gender include: man, woman, transgender, masculine, feminine, and gender queer.

One's sense of self as masculine or feminine regardless of external genitalia. Gender is often conflated with sex. This is inaccurate because sex refers to bodies and gender refers to personality characteristics.



(Biological) People are born as male, female, or intersexed. -plannedparenthood.org

Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male. While these sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, they tend to differentiate humans as males and females. In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean “sexual activity”, but for technical purposes in the context of sexuality and sexual health discussions, the above definition is preferred. -World Health Organization



Timeline of Feminism (United States)

The history of modern feminism in the United States is typically divided into three distinct periods, or waves. You can read about that here: http://www.pacificu.edu/magazine_archives/2008/fall/echoes/feminism.cfm.

The wave paradigm is contested in contemporary scholarship for its exclusion or separation of lower class, non-white, and queer activism from that of middle to upper-class and heterosexual white women in the narrative of feminism and women's rights history. Additionally, it excludes periods of time by limiting the historical narrative to certain chronological years. Because of this, it is important to use the wave narrative as a loose guide instead of a definitive or precise account.

Here are a few links to previously compliled lists that chronical both women's history in the U.S. (http://backtohistory.osu.edu/resources/events/Suffrage%20and%20Feminism%20Timeline.pdf) and major supreme court decisions that have effected women's rights in the country within the last 40 years (http://www.aclu.org/files/images/asset_upload_file420_24353.pdf). Both documents provide more details than the following outline. However, none are all inclusive.

18th century:

Important issues- abolition, racism, equal education, witchcraft, coverture, reproductive rights, dower rights, immigration and cultural integration, birthrights, equal rights in political processes

Organizations- The Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children, Boston Fragment Society

National Laws passed/proposed- Bill of Rights (1791), Declaration of Independence (1776)

19th century:

Important issues- abolition, suffrage, freedom of religion, anti-poverty, women's property rights, reproductive rights

Organizations-Seneca Falls Women's Conference, Quaker Women's Association, American Equal Rights Association

National Laws passed/proposed-19th Amendment, Married Women's Property Act (1860)

20th century:

Important issues- civil rights based on ethnicity and race, equal representation in government, freedom of sexual orientation, ecology, equal pay, reproductive rights, health care

Organizations- National Organization of Women (NOW), Planned Parenthood, ACLU, The Women's Political Council of Montgomery, Alabama, Eve Ensler's V-Day Foundation, National Black Feminist Organization

Laws passed/proposed- Equal Pay Act, Title IX (1972), Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), Equal Rights Amendmant (1923, 1972)

21st century:

Important issues- immigration, ecology, freedom of sexual orientation/practices, equal pay, reproductive rights, health care, racial and sexual violence, equal representation in government, civil rights based on ethnicity and race

Organizations- Feminist Majority Foundation, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Eve Ensler's V-Day Foundation

Laws passed/proposed- Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (2010), ERA, Proposition 8

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