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Women, Public Policy, & Social Change [WMST611]

  *****The APA Style guides are accessible through the Cook Library web site > Citing Sources*****
  Primary Sources: Laws & Legislative History

Title IX of the Education Act of 1972


Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) , as amended 1993


Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)


Abortion: Law Development (1/15/2009)

  • CRS Report providing background information on abortion legislation from 1973 -2008

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003

  • 108th Congress, 2003 - 2004 - Bill Summary & Status from THOMAS
  • Partial-Birth Abortion (1/14/2008)
    • Discusses Supreme Court case Stenberg v. Carhart and other attemps to restrict partial-birth abortions

Same-Sex Marriage Laws [ National Conference of State Legislatures]

  • Focus on same-sex marriage in state legilatures and courts

Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013

  • 112th Congress, 2013 - 2014 - Bill Summary & Status from THOMAS

Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2011


Labor Force Information about Women [ U.S. Department of Labor]

  • Includes links to various types of information on working women including statistics, women in the military, and federal laws and regulations

Open CRS:Congressional Research Reports for the People

  • Prepared by staff of the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service and are intended to provide an overview of the legislative topics being addressed by the U.S. Congress
  • Intended to provide fact-rich, unbiased, non-technical background information on policy issues
  • Web site allows keyword searching of and provides summaries for over 8,000 CRS Reports that are available through various repositories sponsored by organizations such as National Council on Science and the Environment, Federation of American Scientists, and Thurgood Marshall Law Library at University of Maryland School of Law
  • zFacts is another service that provides access to about 16,000 research reports.
  • University of North Texas Libraries includes CRS reports back to 1990.

GAO: Government Accountability Office

  • As noted on the website, this office is "the congressional watchdog", whose focus is on performance and accountability
  • This is a good place to find reports on the effectiveness of policy or legislation as determined by program evaluation and grant monitoring
  • Use the search box to enter topics of interest

Congressional Digest [Off-campus access requires TU NetID.]

  • Available electronically through Academic Search
  • Each issue devoted to providing background information and a pro/con debate on an issue before Congress
  • Issues covered include: Violence Against Women - 91(6), June 2012; Contraceptive Coverage - 91(4), April 2012; DREAM Act- 89(9), Nov. 2010; Partial-Birth Abortion - 82(6), June 2003; Family Medical Leave Legislation - 72(1), Jan. 1993; Title IX - 64(1): 2-7, Jan.1985.


Congressional Quarterly's Almanac (Available in print only.)

  • Published annually - Current 5 years shelved in Reference stacks; earlier years in General stacks, 5th floor
  • Includes background information on legislation including: Title IX (1975, pp.661-5); FMLA (1993, pp. 389-91); and partial-birth abortion (2003, pp.3-3 to 3-5)
  • Do an Advanced Search in Academic Search Premier for articles in C Q Weekly published on legislation before Congress from 1990 to current.
    • Type CQ or congressional quarterly in a search box and change Select a Field to SO Journal Name
    • Type your topic in another search box
    • Don't type complete name of legislation, but rather use searches like: family and medical leave; violence against women; title ix; partial-birth

THOMAS or GovTrack.us

  • THOMAS is the official government site, from which the information at GovTrack.us is drawn
  • These websites are designed to track legislation that is/has been introduced in Congress
  • Covers 103rd Congress (1993-4) to current
  • Full text goes back to 106th Congress and roll call votes back to their inception

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  Background Sources

Gale Virtual Reference Library

  • This research database provides the full text of numerous encyclopedias that provide background information on laws and legislation
  • Type name of law or topic into the search box

Sage Reference Online

  • This research database provides the full text of numerous encyclopedias that provide background information on laws and legislation
  • Type name of law or topic into the search box

Check in the USMAI Catalog for books, films, and links to government documents on policy.

  • Put the name of your legislation in quotes and do not use the word 'act' in the phrase.
  • Using abbreviations only associated with names of legislation will not retrieve the best results, rather search using both full name and abbreviation (For example: "family and medical leave" or fmla)
  • If your search yields too many irrelevant results, search by subject word/s instead of word/s anywhere

  Statistical Sources

Family Violence: Facts & Figures

  • Part of a section on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service [NCJRS] devoted to family violence

There are numerous federal websites (.gov) that have statistics, but their search engines are generally not very good. So unless you want to browse by broad topic, which is sometimes more efficient, I recommend searching for your topic in Google and limiting it to government sites. For example, search: domestic violence statistics site:gov Or, if in your research, the name of a particular report is mentioned, type the name of the report into Google to find its location. A lot of the problem in finding relevant information is in the words that you use. For example, information on family violence can be found in a report published by the BJS, which is listed under "intimate partner violence."
Also, you will find that most of the statistics found on non-governmental sites use US government statistics as their source of information. So, you'll end up back at these sites one way or the other.
Some of the government websites which are devoted to statistical information are:

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  Organizations That Focus on Women's Issues

Natonal Organization for Women [NOW]

  • "..works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society." - from the website
  • Issues include: Abortion & Reproductive Issues; Economic Justice; Constitutional Equality; Lesbian Rights; Promoting Diversity & Ending Racism; Violence Against Women;Title IX; Women-Friendly Workplace; Women in the Military; and others

Center for Women Policy Studies

  • Issues include:Anti-Trafficking; Women's Health; Women & Poverty; US Foreign Policy & Its Impact on Women; Women Engaging Globally; Women & Girls with Disabilities; Women in the Workplace

Institute for Women's Policy Research

  • Initiatives on: Employment, Education & Economic Change; Democracy & Society; Poverty, Welfare & Income Security; Work & Family; Health & Safety
  • Specific topics include: Equal Pay; Child Care; Social Security; Family Leave & Paid Sick Days; Status of Women & Girls

Center for American Women and Politics [ Rutgers University]


National Women's Political Caucus

  • Focus on politics
  • Provides statistics on women in Congress and links to websites (and interest groups) that are concerned with policies regarding women, especially health-related issues

Concerned Women for America

  • A legislative action committee with a conservative bent that focuses on policy regarding women
  • Core initiatives include: sanctity of human life; religious liberty; education; pornography & sex trafficking, and national sovereignty from a religious point of view

Independent Women's Forum

  • "...dedicated to building support for free markets, limited government, and individual reponsibility.." - from the site
  • Provides "analysis and commentary" on a variety of issues including feminism, health care, Title IX, wage gap

Office on Women's Policy and Initiatives [Washington, DC]

  • Local organization concerned with women's issues

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  Finding Interest Groups That Focus on Women's Issues

Political Advocacy Groups
: A Directory of United States Lobbyists

  • Site maintained by Vancouver Library, Washington State University
  • Links to organizations arranged by their primary cause

Politics1: Online Guide to Hot Issues & Debates

  • Links to political organizations arranged by political ideology: Right, Left, Libertarian, Radical
  • Interest groups listed under issues such as abortion; affirmative action; gay rights; women

Political Information.com: A Search Engine for Politics & Policy

  • Identify issues using the search screen on the home page. Click on to identify interest groups by issue, especially Society & Values


  • Select an AREA OF FOCUS such as WOMEN and limit by other words
  • Can select further by country, state, or local.

Yahoo: Issues & Causes

  • To find the home pages of organizations arranged by their primary cause, click on an issue or cause of interest, then on the link for Organizations.

Public Interest Group Profiles, 2006-2007 [Congressional Quarterly]

  • Covers over 200 of "America's most influential public affairs groups" and their contact information, mission, membership, budget, publications, political orientation, PAC, current concerns, and effectiveness as determined by "third-party sources".

Encyclopedia of Associations

  • Lists over 23,000 nonprofit American organizations, including contact information, Web address, membership, budget, publications and a brief description of their focus.
  • Arranged by topic with an alphabetical index.


Encyclopedia of Associations: Regional, State, and Local Organizations

  • Lists over 129,000 U.S. nonprofit organizations, including contact information, Web address, membership, budget, publications, national affilations, and descriptions of their focus.
  • Arranged by city and state with alphabetical and keyword indexes.

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  News Sources

Women's eNews

  • News service that covers issues of particular concern to women
  • Issues covered include: religion;popular culture; aging; marriage/divorce; lesbian & transgender;domestic violence; incarceration; rape; prostitution & trafficking; sexual harassment; politics; equal pay/fair wage;reproductive health; abortion, HIV/AIDS; athletics/sports; women in science

National Newspapers [ProQuest]

  • Provides full text of newspapers including The Sun (Baltimore), Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. Note: The truncation symbol in this database is *. For example, environment* = environment, environments, environmental, etc.
  • Click on News & Nespapers from the Subject Areas search and choose National Newspapers Core
  • Click on Advanced Search and type in your search topic.
  • To search only in the headline and lead paragraph for your words, change Anywhere to Anywhere except full text
  • Note that you may limit your search by date/s and by type of article
  • To search issues pre-1980s of newspapers in ProQuest, including the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, and four African American newspapers, choose History from the Subject Areas menu

LexisNexis Academic
For U. S. Newspapers: Click on the blue News button and select Newspapers & Wires and check off Major Newspapers or Newspapers, if you want smaller local US newspapers. Provides full text of major newspapers including New York Times (1980 - ) and Washington Post (1977 - ) and also other local newspapers like the Baltimore Sun (last 6 months only), Charleston Daily Mail, Houston Press.

Note: The truncation symbol in this database is !. For example, For example, senat! = senate, senate's, senatorial

Note: To restrict your search to a specific time period, change All available dates to a shortened time period or specific dates. Once you have a list of results, you may want to click on Sort by: Relevance to change the arrangement of results so that the "best" articles are listed first, instead of the "most current" or to Chronological, which arranges the oldest articles first.

For State/Local Newspapers & News Services: LexisNexis is a good place to start when looking for a local perspective on local issues and interest group activities that might not be covered at the national level.

  • Once in LexisNexis, click on the blue Sources button
  • Click on Browse Sources, change All Countries to United States and then All Regions to a specfic state
  • Below this on the web page, click on the publication type News
  • Check the box next to a city's state News Sources (e.g. for Pittsburgh, search Pennsylvania News Sources)
  • Click on the red box that says OK- Continue
  • On the resulting search screen, make sure to search the section segment - HLEAD (which means Headline & lead paragraph)
  • Search for organizations by both the full name of the organization and its initials, connecting the two forms by the word 'or'. (e.g. pirg or public interest research groups)

Note: Probably the best place to look for articles about state organizations and their activities, as it provides full text of newspapers from across the country. However, use National Newspapers database to check the Sun back to 1837 and New York Times back to 1859.

Research Databases



You will need to search a variety of databases simultaneously or use Cook OneSearch, as topics in Women's Studies are interdisciplinary.

  • If you choose to search individual databases, begin with Academic Search Premier,and click on Choose Databases.
  • Add CINAHL with Full Text, Health Source: Nursing/Academic, Military & Government Collection, Social Sciences Abstracts, SocINDEX, and Women's Studies International
  • Add other databases such as Business Source Complete, Education Reseach Complete, if appropriate
  • Click on Advanced Search and enter your search terms
  • When searching for laws in a database, search by the full name rather than the abbreviation alone, as subject headings don't use initialisms. (For example: family and medical leave instead of fmla and violence against women instead of vawa OR combine both: family and medical leave or fmla in your search)
  • Also, do not use the word 'act' in your search

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The URL for this Web page is http://pages.towson.edu/sara/wmst.html

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