The 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession

This was the generation of suffragists who challenged society’s expectations of what it meant to be a woman. Introduction “Miles of Fluttering Femininity Present Entrancing Suffrage Appeal” Washington Post, 1913 On March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration, thousands of women marched along Pennsylvania Avenue–the same route that the inaugural parade would[…]

The New York Shirtwaist Strike of 1909

During the early to mid-20th century, American textile workers of all categories were subjected to abysmal working conditions, Introduction The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909, also known as the Uprising of the 20,000, was a labour strike primarily involving Jewish women working in New York shirtwaist factories. It was the largest strike by female American workers up to that date. Led by Clara Lemlich and[…]

Mother Art and the Politics of Care in the 1970s

How a 1970s feminist art group showed the value of hidden work. By Sarah WadeSpecial Collections ArchivistGetty Research Institute In 1977, the feminist group Mother Art staged performances in five laundromats across Los Angeles. Over the course of one wash and dry cycle, Mother Art artists hung their artworks on clotheslines and, against the hum[…]

Rosa Bonheur and Other Women Artists of the 19th-Century French Belle Époque

Records of the Parisian gallery Tedesco frères tell a story of commercial success. By Dr. Isabella Zuralski-YeagerSpecial Collections CataloguerGetty Research Institute French artist Rosa Bonheur is widely considered the most famous and commercially successful female painter of the 19th century. She gained international recognition as an animalier, or a painter of animals, and showed her[…]

Women and the Flint Sit-Down Strikes, 1936-1937

“We have got to have a military formation of the women.” By Edward McClellandAuthor and Historian In downtown Flint, Mich., stands a pantheon of statues dedicated to automotive pioneers. David Buick and Louis Chevrolet, the namesakes of two of General Motors’ classic brands, are both world famous. Some Flintstones would like to add a statue[…]

The Story of the Female Yeomen during the First World War

The five-year program opened the minds of their male peers to the women’s abilities. By Nathaniel PatchArchives SpecialistU.S. National Archives and Records Administration Introduction I’ve been in frigid Greenland and in sunny Tennessee,I’ve been in noisy London and in wicked, gay Paree,I’ve seen the Latin Quarter, with its models, wines, and tights,I’ve hobnobbed oft with[…]

From the Society Pages to the Museum in the 18th Century

How Gilda Darthy’s bed tells a story about writing women back into history. By Amanda BermanCuratorial Assistant, Department of Sculpture and Decorative ArtsGetty Museum With its grand size and luxurious upholstery, this bed makes a statement. However, it is also special because we know so much about it. It’s unusual for an 18th-century piece of[…]

When Women Dominated the Beer Industry until Witch Accusations Poured In

Much of the iconography we associate with witches, from the pointy hat to the cauldron, originated from women working as master brewers. Introduction What do witches have to do with your favorite beer? When I pose this question to students in my American literature and culture classes, I receive stunned silence or nervous laughs. The[…]

Women and the Beverage That Change the World

After the development of craft beer in the early 1980s, more women started to once again infiltrate the industry. Birth of the Fermented Beverage The earliest record of beer being produced comes from Mesopotamia around 5300 BCE, by accident, when a woman whom was later known as Ninkasi, the “goddess of beer” stumbled upon the[…]

What Was Life Like for Women in the Medieval World?

A glimpse of the everyday challenges and triumphs medieval women faced during the Middle Ages. By Erin Migdol, Elizabeth Morrison, and Larisa Grollemond Introduction While depictions of the Middle Ages often revolve around knights, dragons, and fairy tales, the stories of how real people lived during this tumultuous time are often even more fascinating—particularly the[…]

The Long History of Women Warriors

Women as warriors—or certainly hunters and not simply gatherers—have a long history reaching back thousands of years to pre-history. The American experience with true women warriors—not just our wonderful Hollywood Wonder Woman—has only recently begun. However, with the benefit of recent archaeological discoveries and re-examinations, we can say that women have been warriors—or certainly hunters—for[…]

“To the Rescue of the Crops”: The Women’s Land Army during World War II

Throughout the wartime years, the need for workers in agriculture, as well as in manufacturing and the military, was unprecedented. By Dr. Judy Barrett LitoffProfessor of HistoryBryant University By Dr. David C. SmithBird and Bird Professor Emeritus of American HistoryThe University of Maine We’re working for Victory, too; growing food for ourselves and our countrymen.[…]

The Black Women Activists behind the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Honoring the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. My project, Mug Shot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, illuminates the under-acknowledged legacy of Black women’s activism through a series of portraits based on mug shots of women who were arrested during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and ’56, the pivotal event that[…]

The Everyday Resistance of Enslaved Women

Studying history is like detective work—especially when the rebellion of Black women has been left out of the story. In her new book, A Kick in the Belly, Afrocentric British historian Stella Dadzie describes how her research into slavery-era documents reveals the lives of enslaved Black women in the Caribbean colonies and the American South.[…]

Gender and the Ancient Parthenon

Exploring the Parthenon and its sculptural program from the perspective of gender. Introduction Few monuments can claim such a central role in Western Civilization as the Parthenon. Constructed between 447 and 432 BCE, the Parthenon was created as a symbol of the status of Athens in the Greek world. The temple dedicated to Athena was[…]

The Ancient Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth?

Strong and brave, the Amazons were a force to be reckoned with in Greek mythology – but did the fierce female warriors really exist? By Amanda Foreman I loved watching the “Wonder Woman” TV series when I was a girl. I never wanted to dress like her—the idea of wearing a gold lamé bustier and[…]

A Century of Black Women as Important Party and Electoral Organizers

Even without the right to vote, Black women engaged in political organizing and partisan debates. Today, Black women’s influence in political campaigns is visible and dramatic. In recent presidential and midterm elections, over 90% of Black women’s votes went to the Democratic candidates. Preliminary figures for the 2020 presidential election indicate that the Biden/Harris ticket[…]

A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States

The civil rights that various groups have fought for within the United States. Introduction What is the difference between a civil right and a human right? Simply put, human rights are rights one acquires by being alive. Civil rights are rights that one obtains by being a legal member of a certain political state. There[…]

Winema and the Modoc War: One Woman’s Struggle for Peace, 1872-1873

Winema Riddle was a Modoc woman whose life story illuminates Native American women’s roles in history. By Dr. Rebecca BalesAssociate Professor, Global Studies DepartmentCalifornia State University, Monterey Bay On February 25, 1891, Congress passed a very unusual piece of legislation. It awarded “Winemah Riddell [sic] . . . a pension at the rate of twenty-five[…]

The Renaissance Queen Who Defied the Holy Roman Emperor

Queen Bona helps us understand how elite Renaissance women acquired, maintained, and negotiated power. Among the women of the European Renaissance, Bona Sforza is often stereotyped similarly to her aunt – the fabulous Lucrecia Borgia – as a dangerous and meddling femme fatale. Bona Sforza was the daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, the Duke of[…]

Trotula: Medicine and Women in the Middle Ages

The “Book on the Conditions of Women” was novel in its adoption of the new Arabic medicine that had just begun to make inroads into Europe. Introduction Trotula is a name referring to a group of three texts on women’s medicine that were composed in the southern Italian port town of Salerno in the 12th[…]

How Two Introverted French Women Quietly Fought the Nazis

Lucy and Suzanne’s story shows that quiet, persistent rewriting of the narrative of oppression can be a powerful means of fighting back. Whenever Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe went into town to do some shopping, they also snuck messages to the Nazi occupation forces. Suzanne pulled a small note typed on a piece of thin[…]

The Public Acceptance of Women as Leaders in the Middle Ages

It can be hard to estimate broad social trends in the Middle Ages, but some sources allow us to get pretty good samples. Inheritance vs. Appointment This is a question which people have struggled with for a very long time, as a case of disputed succession from fourteenth-century France shows. In 1341, the duke of[…]

Picturing Equality: How Imogen Cunningham Lived and Worked

A new book explores the photographer’s dedication to feminism and civil rights in the early 20th century. By Zoe Goldman and Estefana Valencia Introduction Photographer Imogen Cunningham was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1883, when the fight for equal rights for women—legally, politically, economically, and socially—was gaining ground in the U.S. Cunningham’s career and life[…]

“I Am My Own Heroine”: A Woman’s Ambition and Fame in the 19th Century

Exploring one of the earliest bids by a woman to secure celebrity through curation of “personal brand”. This article, “I Am My Own Heroine”: How Marie Bashkirtseff Rewrote the Route to Fame, 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/ The diary[…]

American Women of the Colonial Period and the Nineteenth-Century City

All opportunities for education, prospect, liberation and development were closed to women. By Khelifa Arezki and Katia Mahmoudi Introduction The aim of the present paper is to shed light on women’s condition within the American society during the colonial period and the 19th century. The study will center on the gendered place that women were[…]

The Social and Legal Status of Women in the Middle Ages

The very concept of “woman” changed in a number of ways during the Middle Ages. Introduction Women in the Middle Ages occupied a number of different social roles. During the Middle Ages, a period of European history lasting from around the 5th century to the 15th century, society was patriarchal and this type of patriarchal[…]