Emma Goldman, political cartoon, From the Yiddish Press c. 1901
Some new women’s history resources are available for you!
Women’s History Research in Archives at the University of Wisconsin has a new guide out that allows researchers to access a large number of digital primary sources. Topics include:
women in the armed forces
The bookmobile 1931 -1940. The 1931 Dodge was "manned" by two ladies at all times: one to drive and one to stand on the running board to keep it from tipping over. Proper attire included "a long-sleeved dress, a broad brimmed hat and gloves" to prevent tanning.
Recruitment poster for the Women's Army Corps (WAC) dated 1965, printed in green and black, and featuring an illustration of a woman in a WAC uniform. The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project.
So says James Oakes in The Ruling Race: A History of American Slaveholders (1982) where he dismantles Eugene Genovese’s argument in Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1974)that the slaveholding class in the American South was a monolithic, paternalist group of upper-class white men. Owners of enslaved Africans were very economically and socially diverse, and the New York Times recently uncovered this awesome map based on an 1860 slave Census that illustrates this diversity.
Women played a significant role in the creation and composition of the art that was produced. In an exhibit catalog entitled Federal Art in Cleveland 1933-1943, for the Cleveland Public Library exhibit in 1974, 21 women were listed as active artists in the program.
Finals and papers are behind me, and a full summer of missed friends, books for pleasure and Jazz in the Garden awaits. This summer is going to be awesome.
I started this blog as an assignment for my Digital History course with the fabulous Jeremy Boggs, but I’ve found I really like having this forum to talk about history, women in history, music, and the interesting projects I got to work on this year.
Starting with archival and historiographical research, we interpreted the lives of two women inventors, Marion Donovan and Margaret Knight. There have been thousands of women inventors, but many of them haven’t been recognized due to the financial, legal, and and social limitations that women face, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries. So James and I took on Marion Donovan’s experiences inventing the Boater, a diaper cover that prevented leaky diapers from soaking everything in its path. We learned a ton about Donovan, about women inventors, about writing theater for museums, and about collaborating with a HUGE number of people and institutions, each with their own goals, missions, and deadlines.
The final product turned out pretty amazing – especially considering none of us had play writing experience, and best practice literature advises that museums hire professionals to develop these sort of projects. Flying by the seat of our pants and succeeding, we decided we were now experts in creating a grassroots museum theater production. So Jordan, James and I created a website, History On Stage, that gives advice on how to create a similar program for other graduate students, public history institutions, or the general public.
Designing the site was fun, and learning CSS and HTML was super educational. Who knew programming would be so fun for a bunch of right-brained history dorks? We used images from old Works Progress Administration posters as our visual inspiration, particularly this one:
Pretty hot, right?
Producing both the script and the website were great experiences, and we were so fortunate to have amazing partners, advisers, and a kick-ass team. James, Jordan, Kelly and I = team awesome. I hope you all have a similar opportunity to do some interesting, collaborative projects in history, theater, or whatever your fields of interest might be.
Hallie Q. Brown (Hallie Quinn), 1859-1949, compiled and edited by Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction. Xenia, Ohio: Aldine Pub. Co., 1926.
Perhaps the site’s biggest strength, however, comes from the “Oral Histories of the American South” collection, which contains 500 oral history interviews gathered by historians from the Southern Oral History Program. Since 1973, the SOHP has conducted over 4,000 oral history interviews with a variety of Southern people, “from mill workers to civil rights leaders to future presidents of the United States.” These oral histories are organized into six categories, each holding hundreds of hours of first-person narratives about their relative topic. The Charlotte collection contains a number of interviews dealing with the integration of West Charlotte High School from a traditionally black school to an integrated one. For researchers interested in civil rights history, the Civil Rights series provides additional primary resources on African American employment and the integration at Lincoln High School in Chapel Hill. The interviewees in the Southern Women collection reflect on women’s employment, activist and life experiences, while the Southern Politics series includes “many interviews with prominent politicians from across the political spectrum. Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Andrew Young appear in this collection along with Lester Maddox, George Wallace, and Jesse Helms.”
Dan Sayre Groesbeck "Shall We Be More Tender with Our Dollars Than with the Lives of Our Sons". Chicago: Illinois Litho. Co., [1917.
As this site is a collection of primary source materials, there’s not much in the way of historical interpretation happening. Which for most historians and researchers serves its purpose well – the vast breadth and depth of the collections allow the researcher to find a ton of information from a variety of perspectives without being mediated through additional interpretive lenses of others. When dealing the Southern history – as with any contested histories – it’s refreshing to have this diverse set of resource materials available without feeling like the collection is missing vital voices.
The website, though dense with information and material, is incredibly easy to navigate. It encourages visitors to search for specific topics or categories, or to browse at leisure within a specific subject area. The design of the site includes a number of links from the home page that visitors can start their search from, including Highlights, Collections, Titles, Subjects, and New Additions. The site also includes a page of Classroom Resources that includes lesson plans in NC, US, and Afro-American histories.
The Documenting the American South website would be a great resource for most visitors, though the site seems most suited for scholars, researchers, and educators. Although the breadth of the primary source material would be suitable for scholars researching specific topics or perspectives relating to Southern life, the site is very user-friendly in its construction. In addition to providing subject guides for browsers (the people, not the computer kind) can peruse (my favorites include Explore Women’s History in North Carolina and The diary of a female plantation owner in South Carolina), the site includes guides to visitors who don’t possess advanced researching skills, such as a Guide to Using the Subject Index.
: Woman\’s American Baptist Home Mission Society, c1919.”]
Mary McLeod Bethune, Women of Achievement: Written for the Fireside Schools Under the Auspices of the Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society. [Chicago, Ill.
Documenting the American South has taken great strides in the use of new media, starting with the digitization of hundreds of oral histories. The quality of the audio files range from moderate to excellent, which is fairly impressive when you consider the oral history project started in the early 1970s and may not have been conducted with the highest-end of equipment. Many of the Highlights include audio podcasts that allow the visitor to listen along while browsing through documents, and visitors can subscribe to the RSS feeds to be alerted when new podcasts become available.
Along with the oral history audio recordings, many of the images of scanned documents are of a relatively high quality, as is the written descriptions that accompany the artifacts. Finally, Documenting the American South includes a link to a 23-page .pdf file of comments readers have shared with the site’s creators, opening the door to an interactive conversation between collections manager and researcher. Documenting the American South is a fantastic resource for researchers of all levels to engage with the past in the South, and they are sure to come away from the site having found something unique and unexpected.
Emmett J. Scott (Emmett Jay), 1873-1957 and Lyman Beecher Stowe, 1880-1963 Booker T. Washington, Builder of a Civilization. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1916.
James, Jordan and I have a final project plan! Written by Jordan Grant.
This semester, our graduate team is working alongside the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, the National Museum of American History, and American University’s Performing Arts Department to develop two original pieces of museum theater based upon the lives of two inventors – Margaret E. Knight and Marion O’Brien Donovan. Along the way, we’ve learned a great deal about museum theater, from the best practices in the field to the day-to-day insights that accompany researching, writing, and revision. Rather than keep this knowledge to ourselves, we hope to create a website that can help others who have an interest in museum theater, Our website [www.historyonstage.org] will focus in on the particular challenges that come with presenting history on stage (as opposed to science or other popular topics). We hope to give students, educators, and museum professionals the resources and advice they need to create productions of their own.
In more detail, the site will:
- Give a brief introduction to museum theater, describing its particular strength and weaknesses as a way to interpret the past.
- Offer visitors advice on how to begin creating their own piece of historical museum theater (not program)
- Give visitors tips, based on the our experience, for each stage of the development process (initial planning and key messages, research, drafting, revision)
- Direct visitors to other resources, such as official associations for museum theater, the best literature in the field, and examples of other successful pieces of museum theater (videos and other media).
- Introduce visitors to our team (the authors), as well as our ongoing project on women inventors.
Since our website hopes to direct visitors through paths of webpages, we plan to use WordPress to build the site. Also, since we are required to build an online portfolio for our public history project, our “About Us” page will also offer information about our ongoing theater project, complete with a bibliography, primary documents, and content-rich descriptions of our inventors.
[Purchase domain space]
Vision and Planning Meeting – 03/30/10
- Create a site map
- Finalize content and responsibilities
- Discuss site’s overall mood and appearance
Rough Design Meeting 04/07/10
- Present and Discuss Site Mock-Ups
[Construct style sheet]
Open Lab Meeting 04/14/10
- Begin adding content (text) to site
- Add header graphic to homepage
[Create presentation for class]
[Continue adding content to site]
Check-In Meeting 04/21/10
- Find missing content
-Check all citations
-Revise and edit the site’s voice
- Make additional polishes and flourishes