Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

Woman's Collections

The Special Collections Division of Jackson Library at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro houses the Woman's Collection, comprised of approximately 8,000 volumes dating from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries, and including the Robbie Emily Dunn Collection of American Detective Fiction and the Girls' Books in Series Collection.

Consisting primarily of British and American imprints, the collection is especially strong in early biography, education, labor, health and hygiene, organizations, suffrage and anti-suffrage (United States, Great Britain, France and Germany), nineteenth-century literature about women, social and moral questions (i.e., proper duties and vocations, emancipation, right to work, sex equality, sexual ethics, eugenics, psychology, women's sphere, domesticity and social condition). The majority of the material is in the English language, with a large group of French and German pamphlets, and a selection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century works in Latin and French.

In 1958, the Library acquired the "Anthony M. Ludovici Private Library of Books and Pamphlets on Woman -- Her History, Her Physiology, Female Emancipation, Female Suffrage, Feminism, and Sexology." The contents of Ludovici's library are no less impressive than its name, since this collection includes first editions of such authors as Mary Astell, Aphra Behn, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Ludovici's own writings on subjects pertaining to women are also included.

A considerable number of works on gymnastics, sports, and physical culture for women and girls was once part of the Homans Collection at Wellesley College. When Wellesley's graduate program in physical education was discontinued, the major portion of this collection came to UNCG and was cataloged for Special Collections. Titles written for young girls and women are in the Woman's Collection and all other materials are located in the general rare book collection. These books appear in several languages, including: Swedish, German, French, and English; and date mostly from the nineteenth century. The collection continues to grow as early works on physical education and gymnastics are purchased for the collection.

Both large and small runs of periodical literature are also found in the Woman's Collection. Included are issues of the first American magazine for women (Ladies Magazine, 1792-1793), and fashion periodicals of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Godey's Lady's Book, The Woman at Home, Gazette du Bon Ton, and Journal des Demoiselles, to name only a few.

The collection of Girls' Books in Series and the Robbie Emily Dunn Collection of American Detective Fiction are adjuncts to the larger Woman's Collection. These support specialized areas of study, most notably the popular views of girls and women as they are found in mass-market publications of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Contemporary social values may be examined in series such as The Bobbsey Twins, and in the enormously popular area of detective fiction, especially in that portion of the genre which portrays female sleuths.

Manuscript and archival collections provide primary source material in many areas including the arts, literature, movement education and dance, public service, social reform, and education.