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Database of the Month: Accessible Archives

This wood engraving shows a session of the National Woman's Suffrage Association during a political convention in Chicago, Ill., in 1880. (AP Photo)

What began as a hobby in 1990 has turned into a highly acclaimed database of 18th- and 19th-century American primary sources. Accessible Archives is an open access collection of newspapers, periodicals, and print/e-book content, free to use and ever-growing. Its diverse collection is full-text searchable, including digital images and keyed-over text. Researchers can access eyewitness accounts of historical events, cultural articles, advertisements, and opinion pieces. The archives feature full runs of all included newspapers and periodicals. Archive highlights include:

  • African American newspaper collection of papers for and by African Americans during seminal points in American history
  • Civil War archives organized by first-person perspectives
  • colonial newspapers
  • Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, with artwork from Norman Rockwell
  • America and World War I archives, with multiple camp newspapers that give insight into the soldier experience during WWI
  • county histories (especially helpful for genealogical research)

During Women's History Month, researchers may be intrigued by the women's history collection. The collection includes full runs of Godey's Lady's Book (1830–1898) with original works by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry Longfellow, as well as recipes, sheet music, and fashion plates. It also includes all issues of The Women's Tribune, an influential woman-owned periodical published from 1883 to 1909. With the masthead motto of "equality before the law," the newspaper connected the suffrage movement to other issues important to women at the time and represented the voice of Midwestern and rural women in the fight for the right to vote. The women's suffrage collection covers more than eighty years of suffrage material – newspapers, pamphlets, and even a digital copy of "History of Woman Suffrage," a history of the women's movement by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage.

Accessible Archives is an indispensable resource for history, African American studies, American studies, and women's and gender studies students, as well as anyone interested in first-hand accounts of American life in the 18th and 19th centuries.