Christine de Pizan and the Medieval ‘Book of the City of Ladies’

This is probably the best expression of of Pizan’s views of contemporary medieval women. The Woman Question In the late Middle Ages, one of the most popular books was the Romance of the Rose (Roman de la Rose), begun in 1237 by Guillaume de Lorris and expanded by Jean de Meun some decades later. The[…]

Women in Ancient Egypt

Women in ancient Egypt were the equals of men in every area except occupations. Introduction One of the central values of ancient Egyptian civilization, arguably the central value, was ma’at – the concept of harmony and balance in all aspects of one’s life. This ideal was the most important duty observed by the pharaoh who,[…]

Selma Lagerlöf: Surface and Depth

Analyzing the importance of Lagerlöf’s oeuvre and the complex depths beneath her seemingly simple tales and public persona. This article, Selma Lagerlöf: Surface and Depth, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ In 1909, an ageing “spinster,” with a marked limp,[…]

Women in the Mongol Empire

They had more rights than women in contemporary cultures to the east and west of Mongolia, some even reigning as regents. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Women in the Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) shared the daily chores and hardships of steppe life with men and were largely responsible for tending animals, setting up camps, childrearing, producing[…]

How Forceps Permanently Changed the Way Humans Are Born

Childbirth used to be a terrifying ordeal. But women were surrounded by others – mothers, aunts, sisters – who brought love and experience. But midway through the 19th century, this changed. Introduction Obstetric forceps look like ninja weapons. They come as a pair: 16 inches of solid steel for each hand with curved “blades” that[…]

Warrior Women of the World of Ancient Macedon

Amazons of legend and very real Scythian tribes were mentioned in the same breath in ancient Greece. By David GrantHistorian and Author Introduction The 8th November is celebrated as Archangels Day in Greece, but on that November day in 1977 CE something remarkable happened: an excavation team led by Professor Manolis Andronikos were roped down[…]

Women’s Voice and Religious Utterances in Ancient Greece

Examining religious utterances such as curses, supplication, and prayer, as reflected in some passages from ancient Greek epic and tragedy. Introduction This paper tackles the issue of women and religion through a particular looking glass: religious utterances such as curses, supplication, and prayer, as reflected in some passages from ancient Greek epic and tragedy—pivotal literary[…]

The Priestess Pythia at the Ancient Delphic Oracle

The role of priestess at Delphi was enormously influential. She was consulted on everything from warfare to love to public policy. Introduction In a time and place that offered few career opportunities for women, the job of the priestess of Apollo at Delphi stands out. Her position was at the centre of one of the[…]

The Female World of Love and Larceny in the Eighteenth Century

Men were transient figures (and often dupes) of light-fingered sex workers, but women’s relationships with each other were often more enduring. I was recently delighted to learn of the return of the period drama Harlots for a third season. The television series set in rival eighteenth-century London brothels is good viewing, even if its portrait[…]

Prehistoric Bones of Women in Russian Cave Links to Modern Indigenous People

The bones show interbreeding Neanderthal and Denosivan humans. This article reprinted from RFE/RL. A piece of bone from a cave in Russia has yielded what may be the biggest archaeological find of the year, media reported on August 30. The bone belonged to an ancient human who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.[…]

Scientists Wonder: Did Cave Women Wander?

Primitive women were more likely than their male counterparts to pack up and leave the cave. Primitive women were more likely than their male counterparts to pack up and leave the cave, eventually partnering with men from further afield, according to a study published in Nature magazine. By studying fossilised teeth from nearly 2 million years ago found[…]

Persecuting the Powerless: Why Most Accused Witches Were Women

Witch trials most often targeted a persecuted minority: women. Introduction “Witch hunt” – it’s a refrain used to deride everything from impeachment inquiries and sexual assault investigations to allegations of corruption. When powerful men cry witch, they’re generally not talking about green-faced women wearing pointy hats. They are, presumably, referring to the Salem witch trials,[…]

Women’s Roles in the Industrial Revolution

Throughout the Industrial Revolution, gender was a major influence on worker salary. Experience of Women at the Outset of Industrialization The Industrial Revolution impacted different social classes of women in numerous ways.  Throughout this time period, the working class citizens were most significantly impacted.  Many women who did not belong to wealthy families would often[…]

Lady Hell Cats: Women Marines of World War I

In 1918, the Marine Corps began investigating how the integration of women would take place. By Kenna HowatHistorian Prior to World War I, if a woman wanted to join the military, she would have to join as a nurse or disguise her sex. Some historians estimate that hundreds of women served in the Civil War[…]

Ella Fitzgerald: The Voice that Shattered Glass

How Ella Fitzgerald’s cassette campaign fueled a late-career renaissance. It’s the stuff of legends: an urban legend and a jazz legend combining into a legendary advertising campaign. In 1970, the Leo Burnett ad agency in Chicago had an imaginative idea for selling Memorex’s new line of blank cassette tapes. They’d prove the old myth that[…]

Amelia Earhart Would Have a Hard Time Disappearing in 2019

Eight decades after missing aviator Amelia Earhart was declared dead, technologies still don’t quite track every airplane all over the globe. By Dr. Brian Strzempkowski and Dr. Shawn PruchnickiStrzempkowski: Assistant DirectorPruchnicki: LecturerCenter for Aviation StudiesThe Ohio State University When Amelia Earhart took off in 1937 to fly around the world, people had been flying airplanes for only[…]

The Hidden Story of Two African American Women Looking Out from the Pages of a 19th-Century Book

A 19th-century volume contained a mystery for two historians who combined their knowledge to tell the story of the women and their contributions to American democracy. Introduction We are two historians whose work focuses on American art and on how African Americans have shaped the story of American democracy. Our two subject areas converged recently[…]

The Inspiring History of Women in Firefighting in the U.S.

The first known woman to join a firefighting brigade may not have done so by choice. Introduction Are there female firefighters? How many, and who was the first? The history of organized firefighting began all the way back in Ancient Rome. Since then, most organized firefighting forces have been made up of men… until recently.[…]

Mother Machine: An ‘Uncanny Valley’ in Eighteenth-Century Medicine

This curious machine was meant to answer the problem of the moment: how to provide sufficient training for new (male) midwives. The eighteenth century was an age of mechanization, from Cartesian conceptions of animals as machines to nerve theory and early experiments in electricity. Mechanists argued that interaction among the body’s parts, its “animal machinery,”[…]

Jane Addams and Lillian Wald: Imagining Social Justice from the Outside

Their relationships were profoundly instrumental to their vision of social justice that changed America. Anyone who has taken a United States history course in high school knows the story of Jane Addams and Chicago’s Hull House, the first Settlement House in America and arguably the genesis of social work in the country. More advanced textbooks[…]

Mary Moody Emerson Was a Scholar, a Thinker, and an Inspiration

The woman Thoreau once called the “youngest person in Concord”. Henry David Thoreau isn’t usually known for flattering comments about women. But after a few hours of conversation with the 77-year-old Mary Moody Emerson, one November evening in 1851, he complimented both her intellect and her youthful spirit. The aunt of his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary[…]

Women on the Move: Gender and Mobility in American Culture, 1890–1950

In what ways do we associate movement—the ability to go anywhere and be anyone—with freedom? How do these relationships change when women are the ones on the move? Introduction In many ways, the American experience has been defined by the promise of mobility, that is, the freedom to go anywhere and become anyone. In fact,[…]

Renaissance Woman: Isabella d’Este

Despite the restrictions women faced, her art collections demonstrate important renaissance themes. Introduction In European history classes, we often hear about renaissance men: Cosimo de’ Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, and Niccolò Machiavelli. Where were the women? The most famous female patron of the Italian renaissance was Isabella d’Este Gonzaga (1474–1539), marchioness of a territory in[…]

Sor Juana, Founding Mother of Mexican Literature

How a 17th-century nun wrote poetry, dramas, and comedies that took on the inequities and double standards women faced in society. By Matthew Wills From a convent in New Spain, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz became one of the leading lights of the Spanish Baroque’s golden age. A scholar, poet, playwright, philosopher, and composer, in[…]

Dorothea Dix and Cornelia Hancock: Two Views of Civil War Nursing

Thousands of women volunteered as nurses during the Civil War. On April 14, 1861, Fort Sumter fell—the beginning of four years of brutal war.  President Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 militia volunteers to put down what he described as a state of insurrection. The response was overwhelming. Tens of thousands of men enlisted. But Lincoln[…]