Women's Studies Collection Development Policy

Bobst Library, New York University
Jason Phillips, Librarian for Gender & Sexuality Studies

Women's Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship grounded in feminist theory. This approach examines history, literature, science and socio-cultural phenomena through the framework of women's experiences and feminist analysis. Women's Studies is closely related to Gender Studies, Queer Studies and other approaches that place gender at the center of analysis; however, it retains its own identity based on its history and relation to feminist activism.

Women's Studies does not have its own department at NYU, but can be studied as part of the undergraduate major or minor in the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS), which is also developing an graduate certificate program. CSGS will merge with Africana Studies, American Studies, Asian/ Pacific/ American Studies, Latino Studies, and Metropolitan Studies into the new Department of Social and Cultural Analysis by September 2005. The impact of this reorganization on Women's Studies needs to be monitored.

The History Department offers concentrations in women's history at the master's and doctoral level (see more under the North American History Collection Development Policy).

Beyond these two more formalized venues, there are faculty as well as students at all levels in the humanities and social sciences who are working on women's studies topics, so that the collections have to span the broad spectrum that is represented by CAS and GSAS. Women's Studies topics are also important in Social Work, Education and Nursing.

Altogether, the Women's Studies collections draw on and enrich almost all other subject areas, and the collection policies for other areas should be consulted as appropriate.


The Women's Studies collections support the undergraduate major or minor in CSGS, as well as the concentrations in women's history at the master's and doctoral level in the History Department.

Furthermore, the collections support teaching and research of women's issues on the undergraduate and graduate levels in all schools and programs of NYU, with a strong connection to Anthropology, Sociology, Near Eastern Studies, and the ethnic and interdisciplinary studies that will make up the new Department of Social and Cultural Analysis.


  1. Language

    The primary language of the collections is English. Western European languages are collected in support of the program in the History department. Non-European language materials are collected in consultation with the Asian, Near Eastern, and Slavic studies librarians.

  2. Geographical Areas

    The geographic focus is on the Americas, Europe (including Eastern Europe), Africa, and to a lesser extent South-East Asia, esp. India, where a strong vernacular approach to women's studies has produced publications that represent Third World voices on women's issues. Additionally, the collection supports the geographical interests of NYU teaching and research in anthropology, sociology, and literature. All other areas are collected in consultation with other subject specialist, and on an on-need basis in consultation with teaching faculty.

  3. Chronological Periods

    All time periods are collected, with special attention given to contemporary publications and to time periods emphasized in related fields, such as History.

Types of Materials Collected and Excluded

  1. Formats

    All formats are collected. Microform and online resources that provide primary documents, as well as audiovisual materials (esp. feature films and documentaries) are of particular interest. Small publishers and grassroots presses are selectively acquired as important sources of feminist theory and action. The current small press plan covers many presses that are important to Women's Studies.
    Conference proceedings and anthologies of previously published material are selectively purchased on topics not widely covered elsewhere.

  2. Excluded

    Generally, popular materials, such as advice and self-help books are excluded. However, some such materials may be collected very selectively as examples of current trends in social and cultural attitudes. Yankee sends slips for such popular titles under the "popular gender" label directly to the women's studies/gender studies subject specialist.
    Children's books, normally excluded from the collections, may be added selectively when they reflect social or cultural attitudes towards, or by, girls and women, or if they are part of the work of an important feminist author.

  3. Related Collections in Bobst

    The Tamiment/Wagner collections contain materials on US women's movement and women's involvement in US labor history, as well as anarchism and other radical movements.
    The Fales Library houses the Elizabeth Robins archives, as well as materials by British and American women writers.
    The US and UN government collections provide demographic and other statistical data on the status of women in America and worldwide. With more current statistical resources available online, these data are becoming more accessible to undergraduates and interdisciplinary researchers.

Subjects and Collection Levels

Subjects Collection Intensity
A: General & Reference Works C-D C-D
B: Philosophy & Religion B B
C: Archaeology C C
D: History
D (general), DA (UK), DC (France), DD (Germany) C-D C-D
DE (Greco-Roman), DP (Spain),
DJK, DK (Eastern Europe, Russia, Soviet Union),
DS (Asia), DT (Africa), DU (Oceania, incl. Australia)
All others A A
E and F: United States and the Americas C C-D
GN: Anthropology C C-D
GT: Manners and Customs B C
All other applicable Gs: A A-B
Social Sciences
General (H) B B
Statistics (HA) C C
Economics, Business (HB, HD-HJ) A A
Economic History & Conditions (HC) B-C C
Sociology (HM-HX) C C
Sociology/Women (HQ) C C-D
Political Science
All (J-JZ) C C
Local Government (JS) A A
Colonization/Migration (JV) C C-D
Law (K) A A
Education (L-LC) C C
Education (LD-LT) A A
Music (ML) B-C B-C
Fine Arts (N and NX) B B-C
Language and Literature
General Literature (PN) C C
All others: see specific Collection Development Policies    
Science & Technology (Q & T) B B
Medicine (R) C C
Agriculture (S) A B
Bibliography (Z) C-D D

Note: Women's studies books in the social sciences tend to fall in the HQ classification range, even if the subject is political science, economy, etc. However, the selector needs to check other ranges for relevant materials. Subjects such as agriculture, which are normally excluded from the collections, will typically be covered by firm ordering only.

Other Resources

Margaret Sanger Papers Project

"The Margaret Sanger Papers Project is a historical editing project sponsored by the Department of History at New York University. The Project was formed by Dr. Esther Katz in 1985 to locate, arrange, edit, research, and publish the papers of the noted birth control pioneer. The Margaret Sanger Papers Project has published a two-series microfilm edition, the Margaret Sanger papers Microfilm Edition Smith College Collections and the Collected Documents Series."
(, April 29, 2005).

The microfilm editions are available in Bobst.

New York Public Library

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library at 42nd Street is especially strong in retrospective collections, as well as manuscripts, pamphlets, newsletters and other special collections materials.
(, May 23, 2005).

Lesbian Herstory Archives

"The Archives houses over 20,000 volumes, 12,000 photographs, 300 special collections, 1,600 periodical titles, 1,300 organizational and subject files, thousands of feet of film and video footage, art and artifacts, musical records and tapes, posters and T-shirts, buttons and personal memorabilia. The [material ranges] from medical texts to steamy 1950s pulp novels to short-lived Lesbian publications, from rhinestone pasties worn by a lesbian stripper to team-autographed softball to a lambda-emblazoned hard hat. Also included are files on topics such as Butch/Fem, Lesbian Theater, and Lesbians in Africa."
(, April 29, 2005).

Log In to OmniUpdate