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Women's and Gender Studies

Collection Area

Women's Studies

General Purpose

"Women's Studies uses interdisciplinary methodologies to analyze social and cultural institutions and to reevaluate the assumptions that have shaped human experience." * To adequately support the instructional and research needs of undergraduates and faculty, collecting must focus on those core materials primarily about or for women and materials addressing women's scholarship, feminist theory, and women's culture in all disciplines. The purpose of this collection development policy is, therefore, to define and describe our collecting patterns that support the study of women as a discrete subject as well as an overlapping topic of many other academic disciplines.

Women's Studies as a discipline has evolved into a more clearly defined subject area. Collecting responsibilities will continue to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. Previous to 1989, women's studies materials were purchased by all bibliographers. The first goal in developing the collection is to acquire materials that are uniquely related to the discipline. In recognition of the development of women's studies as a discrete discipline, Women's Studies was allocated a separate acquisitions budget in 1989. Collection development responsibilities for Women's Studies as a discipline in the Humanities and Social Sciences Collection (Baker Library) are now primarily the responsibility of the Women's Studies bibliographer. Through communication with the Women's Studies Program Coordinator and faculty recommendations we recognize emerging trends and have made a more concentrated effort to collect materials on feminist theory, gender studies, lesbian studies, women in science, women of color, goddess literature, and women mystery writers. While these areas were covered in other disciplines, there has been shift to a more systematic approach to acquiring materials to support women's studies research and women's interests at the College.

The second goal of collecting in the area of Women's Studies is to acquire materials related to women as a subset of all subject areas. Therefore, all bibliographers collect materials related to women in the course of developing their own collections. Associated Libraries also collect materials for and about women in their particular library's subject areas. As a means of tracking these materials, a special code (bcode3=w) is entered into the INNOPAC acquisitions record.

Dartmouth College Program

The Women's Studies Program was founded in 1978. The Program offers multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural undergraduate courses. The program offers all students at Dartmouth a course of study that systematically examines the construction of gender and the historical, economic, political, social, and cultural experience of women. The Women's Studies faculty is drawn from faculty of many departments throughout the College. Women's Studies may be undertaken as a program for a major, a minor, or a certificate. To complete a certificate in Women's Studies, students must complete six courses from a core curriculum of twelve courses that focus on questions defining the field of Women's Studies. In addition there are approximately fifty courses scattered throughout the academic disciplines dealing with gender issues regularly offered. Approximately 40 students graduate each year with a certificate in Women's Studies and 15 with a major. Women's Studies also attracts students in the Master of Liberal Studies Program. Faculty are active in gender research, grant writing to support feminist scholarship, and programs to support women in the sciences. * Women's Studies Program. Dartmouth College. Eighth-Year Review Report, November, 1985.

General Subject Boundaries

As a reflection of its interdisciplinary nature, Women's Studies materials are bought in almost every academic discipline. General subject boundaries may be divided into three broad categories that reflect the way the collections are housed and the acquisitions budget is allocated. The three general categories are those materials primarily dealing with women and women's issues, Women's Studies materials with broader based use such as reference materials, and women's studies materials purchased by other bibliographers as part of their collection development activities. Materials dealing primarily with Women's Studies as a discipline or women as the central topic are housed in Baker Library and purchased from the WOME fund. Esoteric literature by women and small press publications and special interest materials are routinely collected. High priced microform sets and items too costly for the Women's Studies budget are often purchased out of related discipline's funds by the appropriate bibliographer, with recommendations from the Women's Studies bibliographer. Reference tools dedicated to Women's Studies for use in the Baker Library are routinely purchased out of Reference funds. Those materials dealing with women as part of another academic discipline, such as women artists, are purchased from that discipline's funds and housed in either Baker Library or one of the associated libraries, as appropriate. For example, Dana and Mathews-Fuller biomedical libraries collect materials relating to women's health issues. The Government Documents bibliographer routinely selects background papers, informational bulletins, and statistical data on issues related to women.


The Women's Studies materials are collected almost exclusively in English. However, materials relating to women and women's issues are bought in other languages.

Geographic Areas

There are no geographic limitations to purchasing Women's Studies materials.

Types Of Material Collected

Monographs and serials comprise the majority of materials purchased. Dartmouth College libraries has 58 serial subscriptions for serials primarily dealing with women's studies topics and purchased from women's studies funds. Additional serials relating to women's issues and concerns, such as women in the sciences and business, are also acquired. Technical reports, indexes, abstracts, and bibliographies are routinely collected.

Format Of Materials Collected

There are no format purchasing restrictions. Currently, the collection is primarily paper copy. Large Women's Studies research microfilm sets and sound recordings are also purchased. A continuing issue has been purchasing materials for which the library does not own viewing equipment. Presently, videocassettes are purchased when requested by the Women's Studies Program, but do not routinely collect this format.

Special Collections and Manuscripts

Dartmouth College Archives collects material generated by the Women's Studies Program, sports information, photographs, papers about women at Dartmouth, and documents leading toward Dartmouth's decision to become co-educational in the early 1970's.

Special Collections does not collect in Women's Studies as a distinct discipline. However, they very actively collect in the areas such as literature where women are well represented. Holdings are particularly strong for writers such as Sylvia Plath, Gertrude Stein, and Katherine Mansfield. Travel diaries, an historically important collection of cookbooks, artistic works, and papers of women are also well represented in the collection.

Other Resources Available

Both the Women's Studies Program Office and the Women's Resource Center have reference collections separate from the library's. The Women's Studies Program Office has completed a project to briefly catalog and inventory their monographic and serial holdings. This has provided additional access to the collection. Other locally available collections with significant materials relating to women include the Ethics Institute, the Women's Health Resource Center, and the Project CORK Resource Center.

Detailed Subject Areas

Women's Studies collections traditionally focus most heavily in the humanities and social sciences. Within the social sciences we collect most intensely in the area of sociology. Under the broad umbrella of sociology rests primary feminist topics, such as feminist theory, women's social life, and gender issues. Areas of particular growth for this collection include materials related to women of color and lesbian studies. Other disciplines in the social sciences that contain significant women's studies related materials include psychology, history, and political science. Within the humanities literature, art, and music is routinely collected based on the material's merit, with the understanding that women artists, writers, and composers should be well represented in the collection. Research materials to support scholarship on such topics as feminist literary criticism and the visual arts are well represented. Women in the sciences has emerged as a significant topic. There continues to be a more concentrated collecting effort to accommodate the topic and publicize Dartmouth College libraries' holdings in the areas of women in medicine, women's health issues, and women and technology.

Revision History

January 1995 (Ann McHugo)

LC Class



Ann McHugo

Current Bibliographer

Amy L. Witzel

Last Updated: 8/5/16