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Long recognized as a cultural watershed and touchstone of modernity, the World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 was also the site of the first large-scale international library of writing by women, the result of years of planning and cooperation by women's organizations in twenty-four countries around the world. This database contains bibliographic records for all of the items submitted to the Woman's Building Library by committees of women in the United States. The foundation of the database is a shelf-list of titles that was prepared onsite in 1893 and preserved long after the original collection was disbanded. With support from a Carnegie-Whitney grant from the American Library Association, Dr. Wayne A. Wiegand initiated work on the database at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies, where research assistants used OCLC records to complete, as far as possible, the bibliographic data for each item. Work on the database then passed to Dr. Sarah Wadsworth, who later enlisted the help of Melodie Fox, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who made substantial improvements. The database was an important source for the collaborative book Right Here I See My Own Books: The Woman's Building Library of the World's Columbian Exposition (University of Massachusetts, 2012), coauthored by Wadsworth and Wiegand. A separate foreign titles project revolving around the non-US content in the Woman's Building Library is currently being developed at Rutgers University, under the direction of Dr. Marija Dalbello.

You will need Microsoft Access to open the Woman's Building Library database. Once it's open, you can use the Sort feature to rearrange the contents by title, state of origin, publisher, or broad Dewey number, which allows you to group materials by subject matter. The Filter feature allows you to display only those items that fit specified parameters, such as works by a particular author, contributions from a particular state, or items of a particular Dewey number. You can also use the Find feature to zero in on specific authors or keywords. Owing to the fact that many of the items in the Woman's Building Library have never been properly catalogued, some of the entries in the database lack Dewey numbers or other relevant data. Nevertheless, the Woman's Building Library database is a powerful tool for the continued study and analysis of women's print culture up to 1893.


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