In Her Own Right

About the project

In Her Own Right: Women Asserting Their Civil Rights, 1820-1920 showcases Philadelphia-area collections highlighting women’s struggle leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment.

In Her Own Right is a pilot project executed by members of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL), with funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities.

The Greater Philadelphia region has a strong tradition of women’s initiatives to expand their rights and opportunities with regard to political participation, education, work, property-holding, and cultural activities. The region’s documentary collections reflect Philadelphia’s Quaker origins and the Quaker traditions of women’s equality and outspokenness; the city’s role as a center for African-American politics and culture; and the development of institutions such as the world’s first medical college for women.

Taken together, these collections demonstrate that the campaign for women’s suffrage did not happen in a vacuum, but was the result of decades of women of all kinds moving out of the home and into the schools and workplaces of the nation.

From a survey of 45 collections in the holdings of 8 members of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collection Libraries, the pilot project focuses on providing a searchable database of primary source documents from seven project partners and contextual essays on overarching issues and these three themes:

The project data is available through the API for researchers to use freely.

Although the digitization of all surveyed materials was beyond the scope of the pilot project, users can search and browse brief descriptions of the additional collections, or download a listing of all collections. For more information, see the “Collection Guide” link at the top of the page.


Project technology development was driven by an inspired and talented group of PACSCL repositories staff (see full list at right), with aggregation and application development by Neomind Labs.

The application is built using Postgres and Ruby on Rails and incorporates an OAI-PMH harvester and API endpoint.

To encourage participation, basic metadata was required, and more robust metadata encouraged. Neomind harvested the original metadata, normalized and processed it, and saved both versions.

Metadata guidelines
Digital file and digitization guidelines

Ongoing development and content growth

The pilot phase will be followed by ongoing digitization of relevant collections and additional development of the system for fluid aggregation and presentation.

NEH 50 logo

The “In Her Own Right” project has been made possible in part by a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in site do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Steering Committee
Margery Sly, Temple University Libraries, Principal Investigator
Margaret Graham, Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center, co-Principal Investigator
Heather Willever-Farr, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, co-Principal Investigator
Laura Blanchard, PACSCL
Project Partners
Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center
Haverford College
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Library Company of Philadelphia
Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Temple University Libraries
Content research and development
Christina Larocco
Academic Advisory Board
Kathleen Brown, University of Pennsylvania
Carol Faulkner, Syracuse University
Kim Gallon, Purdue University
Lori Ginzberg, Penn State University
Nancy Hewitt, Rutgers University
Allison Lange, Wentworth Institute of Technology
Lisa Levenstein, University of North Carolina
Beverly Palmer, Pomona College
Marion Roydhouse, Philadelphia University
Lauren Santangelo, Princeton University
Kathryn Kish Sklar, State University of New York/Binghamton
Technology Committee
Margaret Graham, Drexel University
Laurie Allen, University of Pennsylvania
Kate Lynch, University of Pennsylvania
Doreva Belfiore, Temple University
Holly Mengel, University of Pennsylvania
Emily Thaisrivongs, Haverford College
Holly Tomren, Drexel University
Heather Willever-Farr, Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Scott Ziegler, American Philosophical Society
Application Developer
Neomind Labs
Metadata Enhancement Contributors
Celia Caust-Ellenbogen
Kristina DeVoe
Anna Goslen
Skylar Harris
Cynthia Heider
Charlie Hersh
Annie Johnson
Sarah Leu
Brittany Long
Jessica Lydon
Steve Marti
Evan McGonagill
Chrissie Perella
Kaitlyn Pettengill
Chelsea Reed
Chloe Rotman