Finding a Topic
Collections of Potential Interest to Students
Collections of Potential Interest to Students
The WLA holds a wide range of collections that might be of interest to students working on History Fair projects. Many of our collections also contain a variety of materials, including documents, correspondence, photographs, videos, oral histories, and more! Be sure to check out our finding aids for a complete list of our collections.
During our normal operating hours we welcome students to visit us, see our collections, and consult with staff in person with no appointments required.
History Fair Topics
Topic ideas from the WLA collections may be found in several ways. Check out the handout: Resources at the Women’s Archives: Chicago Metro History Fair 2016-2017 . Other potential subjects for History Fair may be found at the WLA Digital Collections which include Feminism in Chicago: The Connie Kiosse Papers; Women in Science Digital Collection; Visions: A Highlight of Chicago Women Artists; Mercedes McCambridge: Actress & Activist; Peggy Roach: Civil Rights Pioneer; Women and Social Justice; and the Mundelein College Collection.
Taking a Stand in History and the WLA Collections
The following collections may be of particular interest for students searching for a topic on this year's History Fair theme: "Taking a Stand in History."
There are two online collections that may provide topic ideas and feature primary sources:
Women and Social Justice: focuses on the contributions of women through a variety of social justice activities in the 20th and 21st Centuries in the United States including women’s rights, civil rights, peace movements, workers’ rights, homelessness, poverty, business ethics, and healthcare reform.
Feminism in Chicago: The Connie Kiosse Papers: focuses on the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s through highlighting documents from the Connie Kiosse Papers. Kiosse was an active member within Chicago’s Women’s Liberation movement throughout the 1970s and was among the founding members of The Feminist Voice, one of Chicago’s first feminist newspapers.
The collections below are sorted into general topics that relate to the theme “Taking a Stand in History.” Students may find them useful as a starting point for further research on a particular topic. Subject areas include: Latin American Activism, Women in Politics, Social Justice, Feminist Artists, and Class Action Lawsuits.
Latin American Activism
The WLA’s collections include records and papers of women and organizations that fought oppression for Latino communities in Latin American countries as well as in the United States. The women below participated in activities that strove to fight for the civil rights of Latinos both in the United States and abroad. The work included organizing protests for the United Farm Workers Movement, starting a school for underprivileged children in Ecuador, and striving to improve the lives of refugees escaping from oppressive political regimes.
Women in Politics
Involvement in politics is a very literal ways that leaders take a stand to improve the lives of the citizens they represent. Many of the women featured in the WLA collections held political office or represented America in some form or another in foreign relations. The collections include women who served as alderman, councilwomen, senators, and as consultants for U.S embassies. In addition, our collections also feature the important work of the Chicago Chapter of UNIFEM: United Nations Development Fund for Women. Click on the links below for more information.
Taking a stand usually means standing up for a cause one feels passionately about-- important examples of this in American history usually pertain to issues of social justice. Which issues of have the women in our collections fought for? Our collections include issues of homelessness, the prison system, oppression in the church, education, civil rights, United Farm Workers, disability rights, and economic justice. How did social activists defending their ideas concerning the equality and livelihood of different minority groups lead to substantive social change? Click on the collection titles for more information.
Many artists take a stand on an issue through various forms of creative expression including painting, sketching, print-making, and poetry. The WLA holds the records of many feminist artists who expressed their opinions about gender inequality, race, and sexuality. What benefits does art have as a medium for having one’s stance heard over others? How have artists used their craft to comment on cultural realities in the past?
Class Action Law Suits
Class-action law suits are legal cases where a group of people, with one member as the representative, join together to sue a defendant. Brown vs. Board of Education and Roe vs. Wade are famous class-action law suits that changed the course of U.S legal history. They also exemplify how groups of individuals can come together and take a stand against injustices using the legal system as a mechanism for change.