1991: Alice Marshall Women’s History Collection

1991: Alice K. Marshall Donates Women’s History Collection

Alice K. Marshall surrounded by posters and postcards from her vast collection of women's history materials.

Alice K. Marshall surrounded by posters and postcards from her vast collection of women’s history materials.

Alice Kahler Marshall (1923-1997), a Harrisburg-area journalist and researcher, collected materials related to women’s history because the contradictions between the reality of women’s lives and the stereotypes of women’s behavior fascinated her.  She started collecting items while she was a student at George Washington University and continued collecting for over 50 years.

By the time she donated her collection to the Penn State Harrisburg Library in 1991, it was considered one of the largest privately-compiled women’s history collections in the country.  The Alice Marshall Collection, now housed in Archives and Special Collections, has materials from the 16th century through the 1990s and features over 7,000 books and pamphlets (many of which are rare), more than 6,000 postcards, 481 periodicals, over 7,000 pieces of sheet music, and many other items including advertising trade cards, comic books, graphics, manuscripts, newspapers, pin-back buttons, photographs, postage stamps, posters, t-shirts, valentines, and other ephemera.  One of the unique strengths of the collection is the vast array of materials that illuminate the history of woman suffrage in America.

Using her own collection, Marshall authored Pen Names of Women Writers as well as many articles on women’s history.  In 1996, because of her collection, she won the “Write Women Back into History Award” from the National Women’s History Project for the 75th anniversary of the 19th amendment celebration.

Explore the Alice Marshall Women’s History Collection Online

Since its acquisition in 1991, library faculty and staff at the Penn State University Libraries have been working on cataloging the entire collection.  Thanks to many current and retired staff in the Penn State Harrisburg Library (especially Martha Sachs, Carolee Roman, Gale Newcomer, and Eileen Zagon) and the Special Collections Cataloging Team at University Park, as of May 2016, the entire collection of books and pamphlets are now searchable via the library’s catalog, also known as the CAT.

Additionally, two unique series in the Alice Marshall Collection have been digitized and are available online as digital collections:  1) advertising and business trade cards, which showcase the 19th- and 20th-century woman as an entrepreneur, and 2) valentines, some of which are comic or vinegar valentine sheets, sentimental valentines, and those with a woman suffrage theme.

For more information on the materials in the collection, please browse the finding aid.

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