Women's Education
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Inventory of Exhibit Sources

Writing Primary Source Research Papers Using this Site

Theme Pages

This site organizes the topic of women's education into six themes: Colonial Heritage; Female Curriculum; Student Life; Teaching; Religion, Race, Culture; and Academies & Seminaries. This organization helps collect information from a variety of people, collections, time periods, and genres so that information about the theme can be compared and seen from many different perspectives. The theme pages link to key documents about the theme. The key documents form an exemplary rather than exhaustive set of materials at the Clements about the theme.

Most letters include information related to several themes. For example, typical student letters home include information about their classes, their school mates, religious activities and teachers. Letters may be linked from more than one theme page. All collections have links from at least one theme, but not every letter in a collection has a link from a page. To view all the digitized items, use the Inventory of Exhibit Sources in the navigation bar.

The theme pages introduce the topic broadly, then provide short quotes that link to individual primary source materials. The quotes on the theme pages are condensed; read the full source in order to understanding the context and background of the quote. Many letters are part of an extended correspondence; reading all the letters given in this exhibit gives a fuller sense of the author's style and perspective.

The portions of the letters that relate to education have been transcribed and are available alongside of the original handwritten item.

Quotes in the Theme Pages link to Collection Pages that contain the quoted item.

Collections: How Manuscripts are Organized

Letters are kept at the Clements library as part of a collection. A collection consists of letters, papers, and other materials that an individual or family created or received and saved over time. Collections have titles that function like the title of a book. While the titles of books indicate their subject content, collections are named after the creators or the person or group of people who owned them. The name of the collection is usually the name of the principal individual--the person who received the letters or authored the diary or collected the papers. If the papers are collected from a family, the collection will be named after the family as a whole. If the records were created by an organization, church, or committee, a rule of thumb is that the collection is named after the group. Examples are: Elizabeth Barras Papers, Talcott Family Papers , and Ladies' Gleaning Circle of Newburyport.

Since collections are not organized like a book with a table of contents or index, archives create "finding aids" for collections. Italicized collection titles are links to the finding aids. These include background/biographical information about the individuals or family and a description of the contents of the collection. These guides are indispensable starting points for navigating inside collections.

Collection Pages

Each collection page begins with a brief introduction to the collection and a link to the finding aid for the collection, if one is available online. The original item is displayed as a digital copy on the left with a transcription of the contents on the right. Only portions of the letters that pertain to their education have been transcribed. Transcription is literal--that is, the punctuation and spelling of the original are not corrected unless the meaning would be obscured. Alterations or additions are included in square brackets.

A section called "Reading Between the Lines" appears at the bottom of each Collection Page. Students will find this area helpful in three ways:

  • Being aware of their own perspective
  • Thinking critically and creatively about the source
  • Conceptualizing potential theses for research papers

Preferred Citation for this online exhibit

For a Letter:

Sender Name to Receipient Name, Date, Title of Collection, Clements Library, University of Michigan. The protocol (e.g., "http") and the full URL of the page on which the letter appears, followed by the date of access in parentheses.

Mary to Sarah [Talcott], 2 November 1835, Talcott Family Papers, Clements Library, University of Michigan. Viewed at http://www.clements.umich.edu/Webguides/Gurl/Education/TalcottSarahRead.html#a7 (2 Aug. 2005).
For Printed Material:
Author. Title. Place of Publication: Publisher/printer, date. Electronic version viewed on Clements Library website at Manuscript Library at http://www.clements.umich.edu/Webguides/Gurl/Education/TalcottSarahRead.html#a7 (2 Aug. 2005).
Unknown dates or names should be indicated in square brackets.
For example: [Sender unknown]; [Undated]; [Publisher unknown].

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