Researching early modern women online

I have no idea if the research-based post I’ve been trying to write for Women’s History Month is actually going to get finished before 31 March. So, here are some resources (all free to access), focusing mostly on primary sources, to help you go write one of your own instead.

Over at Early Modern Resources, there’s a bunch of links on gender-related resources.

Literary historians are often particularly well served online, and there’s a growing range of great online primary source websites for women writers of the period, including:

Women Writers Resource Project, “a collection of edited and unedited texts by women writing in English from the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century”.

Four seventeenth-century women poets – texts, bibliographies, biographies and resources for Margaret Cavendish, Aemilia Lanyer, Katherine Philips and Lady Mary Wroth.

British Women Romantic Poets, an “online scholarly archive consisting of E-text editions of poetry by British and Irish women” (written between 1789 and 1832).

Representative Poetry Online is one of many poetry resources that includes women authors, such as Isabella Whitney and Anne Bradstreet.

Plus more individual writers’ resources such as:
Anne Letitia Barbauld
Aphra Behn (also here)
Aemilia Lanyer
Margaret Cavendish

See also the Women Writers’ Archive and Luminarium.

What else?

Well, there are plenty of crime and legal history sources:

I know I keep linking to the Old Bailey Proceedings Online. But that’s only because it’s such an amazing source. Plus, it has an excellent essay on Gender in the Proceedings to get you started.

Rogues’ Gallery: the early literature of crime
The Complete Newgate Calendar
Early 18th-century Newspaper Reports

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of witchcraft and witch trials sites:
Salem archive
The witch hunts
Joan Pontius’ Best Witches (archived version)

Other social/cultural history highlights include:

The Woman Controversy, early 17th-century pamphlets on women misbehaving (and men misbehaving in womanish ways).

Martha Ballard’s Diary – the diary (over 1400 pages) kept by a late-eighteenth-century midwife and healer in Massachusetts.

Women’s wills – a small collection of Gloucestershire women’s wills.

Also likely to contain material of interest to women’s historians:

Plymouth Colony Archive
The records of an English village 1375-1854
Virtual Norfolk
Bodleian Broadside Ballads
Web Gallery of Art

That’s just a sample of the best open access sources I’m aware of. If I’ve missed anything you particularly like, just leave a comment with a link (but not for subscription-only resources, please)…

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