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Records Relating to Women

The New York State Archives collects and provides access to records of New York's colonial and state governments. The records held by the State Archives provide extensive documentation of both the impact that colonial and state government policies have had on women and the critical role that women have played in the development of those policies.

This resource directs researchers to records held by the State Archives that document policies relating exclusively to women as a result of unique health concerns or segregated administrative structures. However, many more records document the interaction of women with government entities whose functions affect society as a whole. The pathfinder is arranged topically, and includes selected topics significantly represented in the holdings of the New York State Archives. Record series referenced within each topic are included based on understanding that they contain significant documentation relating to women. Neither the topical nor the series selections should be considered comprehensive. Researchers should consult the State Archives Finding Aid Search to locate additional records relating to women.

Health and Social Services

This section contains records documenting the formulation and implementation of laws and policies relating to women's health. Records pertain to topics such as pregnancy, childbirth, childcare, contraception, abortion, nutrition, aging, mental health, addiction, and communicable diseases.

Finding Aids: Health and Social Services

Civil and Legal Rights

Legislative, judicial, and executive branch records in this section document the evolution of women's rights throughout New York's history. Records pertain to subjects such as citizenship, marriage, dower, property ownership, divorce, wills and probate, discrimination, suffrage, and the Equal Rights Amendment.

Finding Aids: Civil and Legal Rights


Records in this section document women in the labor force and the development of public policy affecting both women and the workforce in general. Records document such topics as employment and wage discrimination, affirmative action, civil service employment, industrial conditions, wartime employment, professional licensing, and public employment union representation.

Finding Aids: Labor

Records of the New York State Factory Investigating Commission contain extensive documentation of women laborers in the early twentieth century.


This expanding group of records documents the relationship between women-owned businesses and state government. Legislative, gubernatorial, and executive branch agency records trace the development of public policy from the mid-twentieth century to the present.

Finding Aids: Business

Education and Teaching

Records in this section document the New York State Education Department's oversight of teacher education and certification in the state. Records pertain to teachers' college curricula, the certification process, vocational education teacher training, and the cost of public education.

Finding Aids: Education and Teaching


This group of records documents the roles assumed by women during times of and in the aftermath of military conflict. Records document service of women in the armed forces; organizational, labor, and recruitment activities on the homefront; state services to women veterans; and claims submitted by women for compensation for contributions to war efforts. 

Finding Aids: Military

Name Indexes to Military Service Records


Arts, Entertainment, and Athletics

These records document the role of women in supporting, promoting, administering, and participating in the arts, entertainment, and athletics in the state.

Finding Aids: Arts and EntertainmentAthletics

Politics and Public Service

These records document women's pursuit of and service in elected public office, as well as their service in various appointed and civil service positions in state government.

Finding Aids: Politics and Public Service

Criminal Justice

This section consists of records documenting the interaction of women with the state's criminal justice system. Records document the conviction, sentencing, and incarceration of individual women for the commission of felonies. Related records document the administration of correctional facilities and programs specifically designed for adolescent and adult female offenders. Additional records document state programs and services relating to female crime victims.

Finding Aids: Criminal Justice

Name Indexes to Inmate Records

Additional Records

The State Archives holds additional records that document aspects of women's history and experience in New York that are too diverse to categorize. These include colonial and early statehood executive and legislative records; historical research files, biographical materials, draft publications, instructional materials, and exhibit development files; and audiovisual materials documenting public ceremonies and events from a variety of agencies and functions.

Finding Aids: Additional Records