A resource guide focusing on women was an idea percolating among specialists throughout the Library of Congress and among editors in the Publishing Office for many years. Convinced that the Library's resource guides provide a valuable service to both the Library's staff and its users, Director of Publishing W. Ralph Eubanks was from the start an enthusiastic supporter of the effort to identify and describe the Library's collections related to women. We owe him a great debt of gratitude for allowing us the time, resources, and independence to devote much energy and effort to pulling together the many pieces that make up this wide and detailed look at the Library's collections. The guide would never have come about without the constancy of his support or the unfailing steadiness and good counsel he was so ready to offer that held us always on course.
Staff members throughout the Library of Congress lent their support to the idea of a guide to lead researchers through the maze of resources that might shed light on women's studies. We soon assembled a team of contributors that would reflect almost all corners of the institution and its holdings. This group has proved unusually cohesive and its members have learned much from one another. During the nearly four years it has taken to complete the guide, divisional walls have become windows. Greater insight and communication have allowed relinking of different parts of the collections long since broken up by format and have promoted connections between disparate materials related to each other by subject matter. Five topical essays, written by staff members, demonstrate the potential of such crossdivisional, multidisciplinary research.
Three Library of Congress specialists in particular lent their expertise and time to the current guide, reading and evaluating the content of the manuscript as a whole through several revisions and lending assistance to all their fellow contributors. This editorial team was composed of Sheridan Harvey, women's studies specialist in the Main Reading Room of the Library; Janice E. Ruth, specialist in women's history in the Manuscript Division; and Barbara Orbach Natanson, reference specialist in the Prints and Photographs Division. Without their extraordinary knowledge of their own collections and the researchers who use them and their involvement in the Library-wide initiative to electronically integrate all of the Library's catalogs undertaken during the course of this project, this guide would not have had the close connection it does to current Library of Congress cataloging methods and policy.
To prepare to undertake a survey of this magnitude--with a large number of Library curators, librarians, and specialists interested in women's history pledged to contribute descriptions of the collections with which they were familiar--and to ensure the reliability of the information in the guide, the Publishing Office early on sought the help of a committee of scholars in the field of women's studies. The committee was headed by Susan Ware, a noted expert on twentieth-century American women and a former professor of history at New York University who is currently editing the next volume of Notable American Women at Radcliffe. From an initial meeting in the Publishing Office in August 1997 and an all-day brainstorming session between the staff contributors and scholar advisers in May 1998 through the review of many texts, she has supported both large conceptual discussion and the perfecting of small details with unfailing energy and enthusiasm, contributing enormously to the guide's successful completion. Her introductory survey of the evolution and current state of the field of women's history provides valuable guidance and context for the chapters on specific materials.
Each of Ware's fellow scholars contributed in unique ways to shaping and polishing this guide: Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara; Joanne M. Braxton, College of William and Mary; Carol F. Karlsen, University of Michigan; Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University; and Vicki L. Ruiz, Arizona State University. They debated with us the proposed structure, particularly ideas for linking divisional collections and approaches to integrating ethnic and foreign-language materials, and kept us aware of literary and less strictly historical sources. The topics that they proposed helped guide the research and writing of chapters, essays, and illustration captions. Each scholar read drafts of the manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions to chapter authors and to the editors. The advisers, however, bear no responsibility for authorial or editorial errors, but all the contributors owe them a great debt of gratitude for urging them on to their best efforts.
We hope that this guide also demonstrates how women in America have been portrayed visually since Europeans first encountered Indian tribes on our soil. Jim Higgins and Yusef El-Amin of the Library's Photo Lab photographed well over a hundred original artifacts from the Library's collections, while Sandra Lawson, Eva Shade, Deborah Evans, Margaret Kieckhefer, Georgia Zola, Yvonne Brooks, Ed Russian, Charlotte Houtz, Judith Brisker, and Bonnie Coles, staff members or liaisons to the Photoduplication Service, managed the retrieval and processing of one of the largest photographic orders for a single Publishing Office project.
The design of the volume is the art and work of Adrianne Onderdonk Dudden, who has fashioned a series of resource guides for the Library of Congress. Production of the volume was directed by manager of production Gloria Baskerville-Holmes and assistant manager Clarke Allen. The index, to which all the contributors added ideas, is the work of Susan Fels.
The Library of Congress staff, from the position of Librarian of Congress to the deck attendant who brings the book or audiotape from its resting place in the stacks to the desk or listening booth where it can be read or heard, is in place to acquire, preserve, and make available the resources that scholars of women's history, their students and colleagues, and you, the reader of this guide, will one day use. To each member of the staff, we owe our thanks for making these resources available.
Sara Day, Editor
Evelyn Sinclair, Editor