“Transnationalism” has become a buzzword in scholarship over the past decade. As residents in an increasingly global society, scholars and students have been drawn to learn more about people from different parts of the world in both the present and the past.

Accessing historical archives in different nations can be a challenge, however. Few of us have the time or the resources to travel abroad to conduct research. Projects to digitize primary sources materials hold a great deal of promise for those of us who would like to learn more about historical developments in other nations and about international organizations.

Women and Social Movements, International, 1840- Present, a new database now available through the Saint John’s University Libraries, demonstrates the promise of on-line resources for conducting transnational research in history, women’s studies, political science, and global studies. Edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin, two leading scholars of United States women’s history, the database offers evidence and interpretation of women’s activism around the world from the 1840s through the present.

The database, which is still being expanded, includes 3,900 hundred primary sources.  These documents include diaries, letters, proceedings of international conferences and publications of women’s organizations.  Lest this scope of material seem overwhelming, the editors have created numerous ways to search for information, from keywords and organizational names, to thematic groupings such as “Political and Human Rights” and “Women and Development.”  This summer, a group of twenty-five scholarly essays will be added to the site, including my discussion of the International Federation of Working Women, 1919-1924.

Faculty and students seeking to better understand the global reach of women’s activism will find Women and Social Movements, International a welcome addition to their research, whether they are starting projects or searching for new, international examples of phenomena they have observed in a single national setting.

For similar content related to the United States, use Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000This database contains 53,000 pages of full-text documents, written by over 2,200 authors.

Lara Vapnek

Associate Professor

Department of History

St. John’s University

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