Skip to Main Content

Archives and Special Collections at Penn State Harrisburg

This guide provides an overview of the resources available from Archives and Special Collections in the Madlyn L. Hanes Library, part of the Penn State University Libraries, at Penn State Harrisburg.

Alice K. Marshall Women's History Collection

About the CollectionWoman washing clothes with a washboard

The Alice K. Marshall Women's History Collection (1546-1997) consists of ephemera, graphic, literary, and manuscript materials dealing with the issues and individuals that comprised women's history from the 1500s to the early 1980s, although the bulk of items are from the mid-1800s through the mid-1980s.  Compiled by Alice Kahler Marshall (1923-1997), the collection encompasses all areas of women's lives and includes 7,000 books and pamphlets (many of which are rare), over 6,000 postcards, more than 400 periodical titles (magazines and newspapers), and thousands of other materials—advertisements, book and magazine illustrations, broadsides, business and advertising trade cards, comic or vinegar valentines, diaries, fashion plates, manuscripts, photographs, pinback buttons, postage stamps including first-day covers, posters, sheet music, and more.


About Alice K. Marshall

Alice K. Marshall and Examples from Her CollectionAlice Kahler Marshall (1923-1997), was a Harrisburg-area journalist, magazine editor, speechwriter, researcher, compiler, and non-stop collector for over 50 years. She originally housed her growing women's history collection in her home, while also raising four children. Her initial fascination with the contradictions between the realities of women's lives and the stereotypes of women's behavior led her to collect more and more materials on women's history.  She is the author of the self-published book, Pen Names of Women Writers: From 1600 to the Present: A Compendium of the Literary Identities of 2650 Women Novelists, Playwrights, Poets, Diarists, Journalists & Miscellaneous Writers, Fully Cross-Referenced (1985), as well as numerous articles on women's history. 

It is important to note, however, that this women's history collection is not representative of all women or of all women's experiences.  In the Autumn 2020 issue of Pennsylvania History:  A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, the Alice Marshall Collection was featured in an article written by Tesa Lark Burns, former Archives and Special Collections Graduate Assistant (2017-2018) and graduate of the American Studies M.A. program at Penn State Harrisburg (2019).  Burns' very poignant and well-written article, "Privilege and Silence in the Alice Marshall Women's History Collection," illuminates the critical importance of situating and interpreting this women's history collection—and any archival collection—within the broader contexts of power and privilege as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.  As Burns states, "Preserving the past is a human endeavor, and people—including Alice Kahler Marshall—collect and preserve from their own individual perspectives. These different perceptions can create different historical problems but can also complement each other, meaning that a wider range of human experience is documented... As a profession and a community, archivists and scholars must open their eyes and ears to find the silences and break them. Women's history cannot be complete unless the voices of all women are heard." (Burns, "Privilege and Silence in the Alice Marshall Women's History Collection," Pennsylvania History 87, no 4 (Autumn 2020): 710,


Images from the Alice Marshall Collection

To view images from the Alice Marshall Collection, please visit the Digital Collections portion of this guide or navigate to specific resources such as the Advertising and Business Trade Cards, the Comic (aka vinegar) Valentines, or a selection of images from our Flickr site


Finding Aid for the Collection