Wives and Wenches, Sinners and Saints: Women in Medieval Europe

What did medieval Christians believe about women’s nature and social roles? How did they express these beliefs in illustrations, poetry, and religious writings? Introduction The medieval period can seem very distant from our own time, and the study of medieval women may appear particularly elusive. But feminist historians have found medieval Europe a rich subject[…]

Ten Should-Be Famous Women of Early Christianity

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Christianity has heard the term ‘Church Fathers’ but far less so ‘Church Mothers’. Introduction Women feature prominently in the gospels and Book of Acts of the Christian New Testament as supporters of Jesus’ ministry. The most famous of these is Mary Magdalene, most likely an upper-class woman of means instead[…]

The Unlikely Journalist Who Dethroned America’s Robber Barons

Thanks to Ida Tarbell, we’re not to afraid to expose the shenanigans of the super-rich. Over the last few years, the idea of “the one percent” has become a popular way to discuss the gap between the fantastically wealthy—the one percent of Americans who control more than 20 percent of the country’s wealth—and the rest[…]

“Charity Is Ever Kind”: Women in Civil War Contraband Camps

In the first year of the Civil War, Union General Benjamin Butler used the term “contraband of war,” to describe escaped enslaved people. By Ashlee AndersonPublic Historian On April 12, 1861, America officially entered into a Civil War, years in the making. This war would transform millions of lives and completely change the country as[…]

Virginia Woolf Was More Than Just a Women’s Writer

She was a great observer of everyday life. Virginia Woolf, that great lover of language, would surely be amused to know that, some seven decades after her death, she endures most vividly in popular culture as a pun—within the title of Edward Albee’s celebrated drama, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In Albee’s play, a troubled college professor[…]

Women, Reproduction, and Patriarchal Views of Space Flight and Colonization in 1960s America

Early space age culture in America highlighted women’s reproductive capacity as a primary, crucial contribution that women could and inevitably would make to the space effort. It’s bedtime in middle-class, white America, October 1962. Little Billy and Little Susie pick out books for story time. Billy wants Mommy to read his favorite, Timothy’s Space Book. He[…]

Guts, Stamina, Audacity: Shirley Chisholm’s House Career

Beyond the headlines and iconic reputation she built across party lines, she had to fight just as hard within the House for the causes she supported. Introduction Fifty years ago this month, Shirley Chisholm, the charismatic and outspoken Brooklyn educator and politician, made history when she became the first African-American woman to serve in Congress. Small in stature,[…]

Uncovering the Invisible Women of History

Historical written records were almost exclusively written by men, but archaeology and the women scholars in the field can make the women of history visible. In the ancient classical world, writing was a very exclusive activity, limited to elite males who had the wealth and time to undertake an education. Exceptions, like the female poet Sappho,[…]

The Ages of Women

The societal development of cultural feminism across time. Introduction My goal in the present paper was to combine both the developmental and historical connotations of the word “ages”, with a focus on feminism. Was it possible that there might be some relation between the development of individual feminism and its development across societies over time?[…]

The Comstock Law of 1873 and Reproductive Rights

The Comstock Law brought reproductive issues to the forefront of American society and paved the way for many future Supreme Court Cases on relevant topics. The Comstock Law was a controversial law because it limited the reproductive rights of women and violated every person’s right to privacy. This federal law was the beginning of a long fight[…]

New Beginnings: A History of Immigrant Women and the American Experience

Women immigrants have played a dynamic role in transforming America socially, politically, and economically. A Woman’s Story Though women are integral characters, immigration is rarely thought of as a woman’s story. Women historically have accounted for almost fifty percent of immigrants and currently exceed that. Women’s motivations for migration have been varied and complex. Gender[…]

A History of Feminist Movements in the United States in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Feminist movements have generated, made possible, and nurtured feminist theories and feminist academic knowledge. Introduction “History is also everybody talking at once, multiple rhythms being played simultaneously. The events and people we write about did not occur in isolation but in dialogue with a myriad of other people and events. In fact, at any given[…]

Medieval Women’s Early Involvement in Manuscript Production

The discovery of lapis lazuli pigment preserved in the dental calculus of a religious woman in Germany radiocarbon-dated to the 11th or early 12th century, a rare pigment used in illuminated manuscripts. By Dr. Anita Radini (et.al.)Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in Medical HumanitiesUniversity of York Abstract During the European Middle Ages, the opening of long-distance[…]

Elizabeth Blackwell, MD: Hero, Humanitarian, and Teacher

She used her skills as a teacher to become not only the first American female physician but also its first female professor of medicine. To celebrate Women’s History Month, the television quiz show Jeopardy, recently posted a category related to female historical figures. The contestants, sharp, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, answered all the questions in that category, except for[…]

The Pankhurst Sisters: Bitter Divisions behind Their Fight for Women’s Votes

Sylvia Pankhurst’s book is the dominant narrative of the time, but was she unfair to her sister Christabel? Emmeline Pankhurst, her eldest daughter Christabel and some local socialist women founded, in 1903, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Their goal was to campaign for the parliamentary vote for women. The women-only WSPU, whose members were called[…]

An Overview of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1848-1920

It was the single largest extension of voting rights in our nation’s history. The woman suffrage movement actually began in 1848, when a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. The Seneca Falls meeting was not the first in support of women’s rights, but suffragists later viewed it as the meeting that[…]

Desperate Housewives and Suburban Neurosis in the 1920s

In the 1920s, doctors who believed labour-saving devices in the home were creating a ‘vacuum’ in housewives’ lives set up an innovative health scheme. Introduction The Peckham Experiment (1926–50) is usually remembered as a pioneering scheme for the promotion of health at a grassroots level. But as I explored its archive at Wellcome Collection, I was[…]

Women in the Byzantine Empire

Although they were the minority, some women did manage to rise above the limitations imposed on them by the male-dominated culture. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Women in the Byzantine Empire (4th to 15th century CE) were, amongst the upper classes, largely expected to supervise the family home and raise children while those who had to[…]

Ancient Phoenician DNA Tells a Story of Settlement and Female Mobility

A study investigate how Phoenicians integrated with the Sardinian communities they settled. By Tessa Gregory The Phoenicians were an ancient civilization that emerged in 1800 B.C. in the northern Levant and by 800 B.C. had spread their culture across the Mediterranean to parts of Asia, Europe and Africa through trade networks and settlements. Despite their[…]

Women in the Viking Age

Even in a male-dominated society, Viking women were far from powerless. By Emma GroeneveldHistorian Introduction Although women in the Viking Age (c. 790-1100 CE) lived in a male-dominated society, far from being powerless, they ran farms and households, were responsible for textile production, moved away from Scandinavia to help settle Viking territories abroad stretching from Greenland, Iceland, and the[…]

Rare Blue Pigment in Medieval Woman’s Teeth Reveal Highly Skilled Artist

A new study posits the woman was licking brushes covered with pigments of lapis lazuli, a rare and expensive stone used to decorate illuminated manuscripts. By Brigit Katz In 2011, a team of scientists decided to study the teeth of a medieval woman who had been buried in Germany sometime between 1000 and 1200 A.D.[…]

From Munitionettes to Citizens – British Women in 1918 during the ‘Great War’

The experience of the Great War helped to radically change notions of citizenship in Britain. Three days after the armistice was signed, a general election was called and was held on Saturday 14th December 1918. Over six million women were able to vote in parliamentary elections for the first time following the Representation of the[…]

Lise Meitner – The Forgotten Woman of Nuclear Phsyics Who Deserved a Nobel Prize

Left off publications due to Nazi prejudice, this Jewish woman lost her rightful place in the scientific pantheon as the discoverer of nuclear fission. Nuclear fission – the physical process by which very large atoms like uranium split into pairs of smaller atoms – is what makes nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants possible. But for many years, physicists[…]

The Politics of Women’s Fashion in the Cultural West

The impact of political and social expectations on women in the Western world. By Dr. Max Barnish, et.al.Research FellowCollege of Medicine and HealthUniversity of Exeter Abstract In this perspective piece, we discuss the politics of fashion in the cultural West. We cover issues of social expectation and individual freedom. We comment on where society draws[…]

From Reproducers to ‘Flutters’ to ‘Sluts’: A History of Attitudes to Women’s Pleasure in Australia

Historically, pleasure was not the only, or even the main, expectation from sex for women in a patriarchal society. In our contemporary world, the idea that sex is pleasurable is rarely questioned: pleasure is a key way of understanding what sex is and what it means. Yet this was not always so. Historically, pleasure was[…]

Johanna Elberskirchen: Sexual Radical and Woman of Her Time

In 1896, a woman university student living in Zurich published in pamphlet form an extraordinary tirade against the sexual culture of men in her society. In 1896, a woman university student living in Zurich published in pamphlet form an extraordinary tirade against the sexual culture of men in her society. The author was Johanna Elberskirchen, and[…]

Adrienne Herndon, an Uncommon 19th-Century Woman

Ahead of her time and outside of her assigned place, she beat the odds. By Carole MerrittFormer DirectorHerndon Home Museum Ahead of her time and outside of her assigned place, Adrienne Herndon (1869-1910) achieved acclaim in education, drama, and architecture in turn-of-the-century Atlanta. As head of the drama department at Atlanta University, as aspiring dramatic[…]