Locating Sources: Documenting My Research Process and Findings.

The first step in locating sources for my digital history project was refining my topic. Although we worked on narrowing our thesis in class and I felt at the time that I had a solid topic to start researching, I was overwhelmed with how many different sources I found about Women running for the U.S. Presidency. The number of different sources on different women candidates of the past was extensive.

I decided to narrow down my thesis even further by changing it to “Victoria Woodhull was not just the first female candidate for the U.S. Presidency, but a catalyst for the feminist movement in American politics”. This drastically changed my search results and helped me to find a wealth of primary and secondary sources.

By using the links provided for us in Week 5 ,

I searched for “Victoria Woodhull” and Victoria Woodhull presidency” and found a number of useful sources from a variety of different collections.

For my primary sources, I used Gale Primary Sources Nineteenth Century Collections Online, Library of Congress, Chronicling America, and The NYPL Digital Collections. I chose these five:

  1. A publication by Victoria Woodhull herself called “The Origin, Tendencies and Principles of Government”. It was published in her weekly reader the same year she ran for office, 1872.
  2. A book written by Theodore Tilton that provides a “biographical sketch” of Victoria Woodhull in Number 3 of The Golden Age Tracts. It was published in 1871 and discusses Victoria Woodhull’s battle to become a candidate for the presidency.
  3. A newspaper article in The Advocate and news, a paper from Topeka Kansas from 1897 that discusses the recent life of Victoria Woodhull.
  4. A clipping of “Mrs. Woodhull asserting her right to vote” from 1870-1875.
  5. An illustration from an illustrated newspaper that depicts “a lady delegate reading her argument in favor of woman’s voting”, the woman is known to be Victoria Woodhull. It is dated 1870.


The Advocate and news. [volume] (Topeka, Kan.), 15 Dec. 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. 

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Mrs. Woodhull asserting her right to vote” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1870 – 1875. 

Tilton, Theodore. The Golden age tracts. New York, The Golden Age, 1871. Pdf. Lib. of Congress

Washington, D.C. The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives receiving a deputation of female suffragists, January 11th – a lady delegate reading her argument in favor of woman’s voting, on the basis of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Constitutional Amendments. United States, 1871. Photograph. 

Woodhull, Victoria. “The Origin, Tendencies and Principles of Government.” Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly 4, no. 8 (1872).

For my secondary sources, I used the sources ProQuest Ebook Central, Cambridge University Press, and George Mason University Libraries. I chose the following as my three sources:

  1. A review by Mary A. Yeager of Ellen Fitzpatricks book “The Highest Glass Ceilings: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency”.
  2. A book by Teri Finneman called “Press Portrayals of Women Politicians, 1870s–2000s : From “Lunatic” Woodhull to “Polarizing” Palin”.
  3. A book by Lois Beachy Underhill called “The Woman Who Ran for President : the Many Lives of Victoria Woodhull“.


Finneman , Teri. 2015. Press Portrayals of Women Politicians, 1870s–2000s : From “Lunatic” Woodhull to “Polarizing” Palin. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Accessed March 1, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Underhill, Lois Beachy. The Woman Who Ran for President : the Many Lives of Victoria Woodhull 1st ed. Bridgehampton, N.Y: Bridge Works Pub., 1995.

Yeager, Mary A. 2017. “Ellen Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency.” Business History Review 91 (4). Cambridge University Press: 809–13. doi:10.1017/S0007680517001349.

For my image, I used an illustration by Thomas Nast of Victoria Woodhull depicted as “Mrs. Satan”. It was sourced from Library of Congress.

Click this link to interact with the Thinglink version of the image: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/1423189360387293186


Nast, Thomas, Artist. “Get thee behind me, Mrs. Satan!” / Th. Nast. United States, 1872. Photograph.

Reading and examining these sources allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of Victoria Woodhull, not only as a the first woman to run for the U.S. Presidency, but as a deeply motivated and interesting woman both in and out of politics. This helped me to realize that focusing on the life and legacy of the first female candidate, instead of multiple female candidates will be a much more interesting and informative project. I also realized that finding relevant and useful primary sources online can be a little more difficult than secondary sources, but with a little digging, some really interesting and valuable sources can emerge. I hadn’t realized that Victoria Woodhull was a woman of so many firsts for her gender, and that could be an interesting perspective to approach her life and legacy as the first female presidential candidate.

Going forward, I want to further investigate the logistics of her path to candidacy and her campaign, as well as the other “firsts” of hers that may have been the guiding influences or motivation for a woman to want to run for president when women were at least 50 years away from even gaining the right to vote. For my next source adventure, I think I will focus on narrowing down my search parameters, and using the sources that seemed most fruitful this go-around to try to dig up more information.

2 thoughts on “Locating Sources: Documenting My Research Process and Findings.

  1. I’m glad you were able to figure out on which area you wanted to narrow down your topic to. I’m still kind of deciding myself how I need to narrow down my own research topic. The information you provided here is very interesting and I also didn’t know that that Victoria Woodhull was a woman of so many firsts for her gender. I’m excited to see your finished project! 🙂

  2. Your topic sounds super interesting and narrowing it down will make it easier to research! I am excited to learn more about this topic and see how your project turns out!


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