The William B. Cairns Collection of American Women Writers 1650-1940

The Cairns Collection is located in the Department of Special Collections on Memorial Library’s 9th Floor. Scholars are encouraged to visit UW-Madison and use the Collection. The voices of women in American literary history reflect visions and styles as diverse as their experiences. Collecting the literary record of these authors—some very well known, others often neglected, some anonymous—is the purpose and goal of the Cairns Collection of American Women writers, 1650-1940. The Cairns Collection continues to evolve and grow supported by an endowment fund.

The Cairns Collection is rich and resonant enough to support research in a variety of disciplines and fields of study:

  • American studies
  • women’s studies
  • social and cultural history
  • material culture
  • education
  • children’s literature
  • travel writing
  • autobiography and life writing
  • publishing history

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Cairns Author List

Through the early decades of the twentieth century, and especially during the nineteenth century, women writers have been listed and filed under different forms: maiden names, married names changing with different husbands, multiple middle names, pseudonyms or pen names. Thus, for a given author, the name used on a title page may be different from that used for another work, while bibliographies, reference sources, library catalogs and union lists will identify the author by any one of her names. To assist in identifying a name authority, we have created the Cairns Author List, which is strictly limited to those writers whose works are held in the Cairns Collection. The searchable list of variant names and pseudonyms of Cairns authors.

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