Women’s Rights
From Past to Present

Primary Sources


“Internet Primary Sources for Teaching Women’s Rights”

General History Websites

Feminist Foremothers:  1400 to 1800 (some primary source excerpts)

Feminist Forefathers:  some excerpts from early pro-women writers

Internet Women's History Sourcebook

Other Women’s Voices:  Translations of women's writing before 1700

Women and Social movements in the United States, 1600-2000; Women lesson plans. six document-based question units.

World History Connected,  Lyn Reese,“Her Marriage Bondage: Useful Websites for Linking Women’s Marriage Rights Past to Present”

Historical Primary Sources

Traditional Sayings & Inspiring Quotes

Code of Hammurabi, (c. 1780 BCE)

Code of Assura Assyrians (c.1975 BCE)

“Inheritance Law of and through Women in the Middle Assyrian Period:” (PDF document)

Ischomachus's Wife: “The Economist” by Xenophon (c. 430-355 BCE)

Great Code of Gortyn (Crete, c. 450 B.C.E.)

Women’s Legal Status in Roman World: Find The Twelve Tables (excerpt): Gaius, on guardianship. Marriage Laws, Julian marriage laws (Emperor Augustus c. 18 BCE)

Justinian Code. (533 CE): selections that follow the first part code.
  A short lesson:

Ban Zhoa (c 48-120 BCE), China.

The Mother of Mencius, (c. 372 – 289 BCE), China; short text.

Indian History Sourcebook: Kautilya

Laws of Manu, (c. 500 BCE - 200 CE) India: compendium of ancient sacred laws and customs by the orthodox adherents of Brahminism. Lesson included.

Women’s Speeches to the Roman Forum: (195 & 42 B.C.E.)

Greater Learning for Women (Japan, 1762)

Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine: Peter of Blois letter to Chastise Her (1173)

Magdeburg Law: (1261) Germany

Christine de Pizan, (1364-ca.1431) “A Medieval Woman's Mirror of Honor,” “The Treasury of the city of Ladies,” France.

Letters of Isotta Nogarola (Italy, cs 1418-1466)

Margaret Fell, “Women’s Speaking Justified” (England, 1666)

Advice Books on mariage: William Gouge, “Of Domesticall Duties” (1622)

Homily appointed to be read in Churches in time of Queen Elizabeth I

Quotes from Mary Astell, England, (1700)

Mary Wollstonecraft debates Jean-Jacque Rousseau, (1791)

Women’s Petition to the National Assembly, France, 1789

Short excerpts from women in Revolutionary France

Olympe De Gouges, “Declaration of the Rights of Woman,” France, (1791)

French Civil Code: Napoleonic Codes, (1803)

Caroline Norton , England, (1824 &1855)

A Letter to the Queen on Lord Chancellor Cranworth's Marriage and Divorce Bill” Caroline Norton, (1855)

Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, U.S.A., (1848)

Ernestine Rose, Women’s Rights Convention, U.S.A., (1851)

“Woman’s Rights” and “Women’s Wrongs:” Pro and Con Women’s Rights, U.S.A., (1867-68)

John Stuart Mill, “The Subjection of Women” England, (1869)

United States vs Susan B. Anthony: Anthony Statement: (June 17-18, 1873)

Gaining Women’s Suffrage in Great Britain (1906-1918)

Maria Eugenia Echenique: “The Emancipation of Women,” Argentina, (1876)

Meiji Civil Code of 1898 and Kishida Toshiko, Japan, (1863-1901)

Qasim Amin “The Liberation of Woman” (1899), and Chronology of Major Events of women’s rights, Egpyt, (1873 - 1994)

Malik Hefni Nassef (pen name Bahithat al-Badiyya), lecture (1909), Egypt

Raden Ajeng Kartini, “Give the Javanese Education,” Indonesia, (1899 - 1904)

Selected Writings of Margaret Sanger

Woman and the New Race: Chapter II “Women’s Struggle for Freedom:” Margaret Sanger, (1920)

“A Plan for Peace” Margaret Sanger, (1924)

Hiratsuka Haru (Raicho) Japan, (1911)

Interview with Alice Paul about Equal Rights Amendment (1923-25)

Alexandra Kollontai: ”Communism and the Family,” Russia, (1920)

Li Kuei-ying Marriage Law of 1950, China, (1960)

Broadside: Why we opposed votes for women, National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, New York City, (1894)

Satirical Cartoon, Women’s Emancipation: Harper’s Bazaar, 1851, and text by Theodosia E. Bang, Boston, explaining that women wearing pants is form of emancipation.

Contemporary Human Rights Organizations and Treaties

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women: excerpts.

From “Global to Local” program: alternative reports from non-governmental groups in countries assessing the process toward implementing CEDAW.

Special Rapporteur: 1996 summary of types of violence.

Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws: an international solidarity network. top site.

Feminist Majority Foundation: global updates.

Equality Now: domestic violence, reproductive rights, trafficking, and political participation.

Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

Women’s Human Rights Resources

WWW reaching women: way to find women’s organizations aroung the world.

Global List of Women’s Organizations

UNIFEM: Note updated news on actions around the world.

Women, ink. See book “Gains and Gaps in Worlds Women” 2006.

Women Watch: Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. Top site.

Human Rights Watch: “Women’s Property Rights: Violations Doom Equality and Development.” case study to introduce issues property rights.

Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
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Women in World History Curriculum