New Primary Source Set on Women in Science and Technology

Student holding a pipette in a container while standing at a lab bench. There is chemistry equipment on the bench. Other students are gathered around the bench.

Science classroom in Washington, D.C., 1942

Researchers, authors, activists, educators, and technicians: Women have played many different roles in the development of science, technology, and medicine over the centuries. A new primary source set from the Library of Congress, Women in Science and Technology, brings together items from the Library’s collections that highlight some of the work that American women have done in scientific fields.

The set includes primary sources from more than a century of U.S. history, and contains items in a variety of formats, including photographs, newspaper articles, films, posters, and manuscripts. Highlights include profiles of chemists, ecologists, meteorologists, and physicists; correspondence from Katharine Wright; newspaper coverage of Rachel Carson; photos documenting the work of nurses and science teachers; and a glimpse inside the computing division of a government agency, where women worked as “computers.”

Woman wearing a lab coat. She is holding a test tube in one hand and a rack of test tubes in another. She is standing next to a lab bench.

Alice Evans in her laboratory, 1928

The set includes historical background information and teaching ideas that support students as they analyze these unique primary sources. The set also gives teachers an opportunity to begin a discussion of the ways in which women have been represented in the historical record and to consider possible causes of those gaps.

We hope this new set prompts productive discussions in your classroom and that you’ll share any highlights in the comments!