So many great things to post about today. Shorpy has more great early 20th-century images of DC:
Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Red Cross ambulances at Washington Monument." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
September 1935. Washington, D.C. "Front of Negro home near Capitol. Interiors of these homes vary little. A chair or two and a table, a bed and perhaps an extra mattress on the floor cares for six to ten people." 35mm nitrate negative by Carl Mydans for the Farm Security Administration.
Fuck Yeah Women’s History has an anti-suffrage cartoon from 1915, the mug shot of Julia Aaron, one of the Freedom Riders, and the Motorcycle Queen of Miami, Bessie Stringfield.
An old anti-suffragist cartoon shows a white man being thrown out of a brick building onto the street. The brick building shows three white women looking out the window at the man being thrown out onto the street, and they seem pretty pleased with the situation. The man is well dressed in a top hat and coat and looks incensed at the way he has been treated as he looks back at the building and the women in the doorway that are looking happy with themselves. These women are wearing votes for women buttons and are carrying women’s rights pamphlets. On the buildings are signs that say “Man? The missing link”, “No men admitted”, “Home for lost stolen or strayed suffragettes”, “man disgraces the animal world” and “down with the men”. At the bottom of the image are red words that read “girls I didn’t marry”.
Julia Aaron, 1961. Julia Aaron didn’t just participate in the Freedom Rides, her family also housed some of the many people who arrived in New Orleans in order to integrate inter-state buses and trains.
“Known as the Motorcycle Queen of Miami, Bessie Stringfield started riding when she was 16. She was the first African-American woman to travel cross-country solo, and she did it at age 19 in 1929, riding a 1928 Indian Scout. Bessie traveled through all of the lower 48 states during the ’30s and ’40s at a time when the country was rife with prejudice and hatred. She later rode in Europe, Brazil, and Haiti and during World War II she served as one of the few motorcycle despatch riders for the United States military.”
Black Vintage has a beautiful photograph by Dorothea Lange from 1945:
It’s so exciting to own a new President refrigerator. 1954.
It’s new, it’s practical, it’s pegboard! 1954
But the winner of the “Dang, that is awesome” award for the week goes to the Library of Congress for their National Jukebox project.
The goal of the Jukebox is to present to the widest audience possible early commercial sound recordings, offering a broad range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.
The Jukebox contains over 10,000 recordings between the years 1901 and 1925. You can browse the collection by genre, artist, date, and even target audience, or you can listen to one of their playlists. They even feature a Day by Day search function that allows you to find songs that were recorded on a specific date. On my birthday in 1904, this version of Auld Lang Syne was recorded:
Edited to remove the name of the student, per his request.
Smith is a women’s college. It also has a trans* and genderqueer student population. This seems to work, for some people, some of the time. But this is not one of those times.
A trans* identified juniorat Smith, volunteers as a Gold Key tour guide for the college. One of his job requirements is to serve as an overnight host to prospective students. The college’s Office of Admissions has prohibited him from serving in this capacity due to his gender identity. According to an article he wrote in the student newspaper, The Sophian:
An additional meeting confirmed that the Admission’s Office felt I should not host female students because it would be “inappropriate.”… In what I thought was a conversation with the admissions liason about my comfort level, I was questioned for an hour in a way that was inappropriate for any Gold Key guide. I was asked how my identity would impact prospective students, how they might feel having a male guide, and most inappropriately of all, whether “we will be seeing any physical changes from you.”
First – this line of questioning is never appropriate to ask any student. What students don’t they see a change of appearance in? The majority of students enrolled are between the ages of 18-22. What – bodies don’t change during this period? Students never experiment with hair/clothing/tattoos? Stress have never resulted in a gain or loss of weight? Even us Ada Comstock Scholars change – we give birth, our hair turns gray, we act out our 50-going-on-22 fantasies via our wardrobe… Come on, Smith.
But more importantly, the school has no official policy on trans* students. Smith’s Notice of Nondiscrimination prohibits discrimination on the bases of:
race, color, creed, religion, national/ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, or with regard to the bases outlined in the Veterans Readjustment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
There is no language in this document about gender identity. The unofficial line about gender identity at Smith has been:
Smith admits women, and graduates people.
This is a tricky situation for Smith, as a large portion of the Smith community (including administration, alums, faculty, staff, board of directors, and students) wishes to keep Smith a women’s college. However, the student body is not 100% woman-identified.
Herein lies the problem. There are already non-gender normative students at Smith, who were admitted as women-identified, and who transitioned during their time at Smith. These students deserve the same rights, protections, and opportunities as the cisgender population currently enrolled.
Others are advocating for Smith to take on the challenge of developing an official policy that protects non-gender normative students. One of his friends and a current student at Smith, Bethy Williams, argues that,
The obvious solution, in my mind, is to HAVE a policy. Admissions said they will handle trans issues on a case by case basis. This is unacceptable. Even if the policy isn’t ideal, it will prevent any trans student from being treated this “behind closed doors” way ever again.
I think that we can and should (if we purport to be an institution engaged in a feminist education) challenge ourselves to consider ways of supporting and protecting trans*, intersex, and gender non-conforming students. I gather from my time at Smith that many were afraid to take this issue to its fullest extent and require that Smith’s Board of Directors would respond with language that was more exclusive of trans* students. I think that this is a legitimate fear (not because of any particular claims against the Board of Directors) but instead because we would in essence be loosing any ‘wiggle room’ that having ambiguous policies affords. As I see it however, at the moment that the ambiguity of policy language, becomes a tool of discrimination we have to reexamine our stance.
Finally, the main issue in this situation is that Smith is setting a precedent of excluding certain students from opportunities and activities that are available to the rest of the student population, based solely on gender identity. This is clearly discriminatory and does not reflect the values I expect the Smith College community to hold. Trans, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming Smith students are Smith students. They deserve your respect and they deserve to have access to Smith’s activities and resources, just like other Smithies. No Smith student should ever be excluded from activities or resources at Smith on the basis of his or her identity.
I don’t necessarily have the solution. I want Smith to remain a women’s college, but I equally want all Smithies – whatever their gender identity – to have equal opportunities and support. I believe Smith College can remain the inspirational, supportive, challenging, welcoming institution that I am fiercely proud to be an alum of.
In some of the first incarnations of DC graffiti, black owned business owners painted “Soul Brother” and other tags on their doors letting looters know that their business identified with the rage felt in the city streets.