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Our activism and social reform collections document the origins and development of an extensive array of social movements in the United States. Even though there are manifestations of these movements prior to the nineteenth century in England and New England and some movements extend to our present moment, our collections focus on the general historical underpinnings of reform in the 19th century and their continuity into the 20th century. The primary reform movements of the 19th century promoted abolition, women's rights and suffrage, temperance, education, pacifism, utopianism, prison reform, and Native American rights. In the 20th century, these movements continued to develop while new movements, such as civil rights, women's liberation, environmentalism, and gay liberation were born.

Related collecting areas include Radicalism in the Arts, Religious and Utopian Communities, and New York State History and Ephemera.

Audio and Visual Materials

Many of the activism and social reform collections contain visual material. In particular, see:

Rare Books and Printed Materials

Our collections include approximately 20,000 books, pamphlets, broadsides, and other printed ephemera relating to activism and social reform.

Useful search terms to locate these items in the catalog include "abolition," "women's rights," "suffrage," "temperance," "education," "pacifism," "utopianism," "prison reform," and "Native American rights."

When searching the catalog, set a search limit to "Special Collections" to find materials located in the SCRC.

Search the Classic Catalog.

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