Discover four archives where you can learn about the ordinary—and extraordinary—lives of your female ancestors.
In the past, history has sought the standouts—powerful rulers, military generals, captains of industry. During our ancestors' day, few women penetrated those ranks.
"From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation," wrote president Jimmy Carter when he proclaimed the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women's History Week (a commemoration since expanded to the entire month of March). "Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed."
Those contributions usually entailed what could be considered mundane: housework, cooking, child-rearing, calling on neighbors. But genealogists are increasingly fascinated by these everyday particulars that enabled families to survive and thrive. Learning those details helps us celebrate our female forebears. These four archival collections -- all hosted by universities -- illuminate the history of women's lives, both everyday and exceptional.