Gender and Sexuality

‘Cracking on’ in the Eighteenth Century: Conduct Books and Courtship
26 July 2019

Love it or hate it, Love Island fever has undeniably swept through the nation for yet another summer and with the infamous dating reality show now gearing up to the final next week it seems appropriate to take a moment to step back in time and see how our eighteenth century predecessors went about ‘cracking on’.

Pride and Prejudice: 50 years since Stonewall
14 June 2019

The month of June is celebrated in countries around the world as Pride month. Events, parades and marches which were originally conceived as an annual commemoration of the Stonewall riots of June 1969 are today a celebration of LGBT acceptance and achievements, and a recognition of the continuing fight for rights and equality.

Extraordinary Instance of Female Friendship: Female Romance Before Gentleman Jack
07 June 2019

If you’ve switched on a television in the last month or two, you’ve likely caught a glimpse of Suranne Jones – all cheekbones, wry smile and top hat – embodying the character of ‘Gentleman Jack’. Anne Lister is one of history’s most iconic lesbian figures; her coded diaries shattered everything we thought we knew about nineteenth century “lesbianism” upon their rediscovery in 1933. Iconic female romances existed in Britain long before Lister’s notorious love affairs, however, and one such story can be found in our Defining Gender resource.

International Women's Day: Celebrating women
08 March 2019

International Women's Day is celebrated around the world, recognising women's achievements and promoting gender equality. It has working class beginnings, emerging from the strike of 1908 in New York, where 15,000 garment workers marched to demand workers rights and to protest their difficult working conditions.

Our Friend Angela Davis
01 March 2019

Spring has sprung here at Adam Matthew and as February draws to an end and March gets underway, we find ourselves dodging daffodils and rain showers at every turn. As well as a change of season, March 1st marks the close of (US) Black History Month and the dawn of Women’s History Month, two movements designed to promote figures marginalised by the traditional top-down historical narrative. With this in mind, it seems timely to share an intriguing propaganda piece about the African American woman and “enemy of the state” who toured Leonid Brezhnev’s USSR at the height of the Cold War.

The Moving Target - Marketing to Women in the 1970s
31 August 2018

Rena Bartos was named Senior Vice President at the J. Walter Thompson Company in 1977 and was an influential figure in the advertising industry. She was highly regarded for her pioneering work on marketing to women, a concept she called ‘The Moving Target’. ‘The Moving Target’ focused on changing perceptions of women in the 70s; it was designed to help advertisers recognise the shifting roles of the modern woman, encourage them to portray her more realistically in the media and sell to her more effectively as a consumer.

1931 vs. 2018: How Traditional is My Wedding?
19 July 2018

Wedding season is in full swing once again and in light of my own impending nuptials, I’ve decided to take a look back at a bridal etiquette leaflet from 1931 in Adam Matthew’s resource Trade Catalogues and the American Home to explore bridal traditions after months of being asked things like…

Women’s Suffrage: Getting creative
10 July 2018

Recently, I attended an event at the National Archives celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage. Whilst there, I listened to a talk about Edith Garrud, the woman who taught ‘Suffragette jiu-jitsu’.

Shoes burnt off my feet: Anna Airy on painting the ferocious heat of WWI shell furnaces
14 June 2018

A newspaper clipping begins with the following account: ‘A lady engaged in painting, for the Imperial War Museum, in a large munitions factory was watched by two workmen. Said one, “She’s sketchin’ for the papers, ain’t she?” His mate, better informed, replied, “Naow, she’s from the Ministry, she is” and added as an afterthought, “but she seems to know ‘er job"'. The workmen were discussing Anna Airy who, whilst considered one of the leading British women artists of her generation, was also one of the first women to be officially commissioned as a war artist, one hundred years ago.

Pea Pickers, Fisher Girls and Market Women
08 June 2018

The Munby collection was bequeathed to Trinity College on the understanding that the deed boxes in which it was held were not to be opened until 1950. Shrouded in secrecy until that date researchers and scholars must have been elated to find the remarkable diaries of Arthur Joseph Munby contained inside. Those opening the boxes also found photograph albums, poetry and an additional set of diaries written by Munby’s wife Hannah Cullwick. This extraordinary collection featured in Gender: Identity and Social Change, is enhanced with Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology to enable full-text searching of the manuscript material.

Observing the Masses - Nella Last's Diaries
06 April 2018

One of the first projects I worked on for Adam Matthew was the Mass Observation Archive collection – reading through the monthly diaries of the Mass Observers in the 1960s and wondering at the differences in all their lives. Anybody who has done any work on Mass Observation will be well aware of the most famous Mass Observer (though anonymous at the time) and may have in fact followed her life from the Second World War until her death in the late 60s. This woman was Nella Last, and she was one of the most prolific writers of the Mass Observation project. 

“Passive Women”: Uncovering the story of Josina Machel and the Mozambique Liberation Front
29 March 2018

Whilst looking through the Gender: Identity and Social Change resource, I was drawn to Revolutionary Women.

Comrade Woman
08 March 2018

Digitised in our Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda resource, Comrade Woman captures the stirring spirit of 1975, the year named International Women’s Year by the United Nations. Produced by the Central Documentary Studios, Moscow, and directed by Zinaida Tusova, Comrade Woman presents an overview of the diverse and vital roles of women within Soviet society.

“The way of progress was neither swift nor easy”: Taking a closer look at the legacy left by Marie Curie.
31 January 2018

Marie Curie is a name with which most of us are familiar today, as the cancer hospices founded in her memory since 1930 continue to support and care for people living with cancer, and their families. However, while her scientific breakthroughs are now widely recognised and celebrated, Curie faced relentless gender discrimination throughout her life as documents in Gender: Identity and Social Change resource document.

Pish-Posh, Or The Most Important Book Of Our Century
04 January 2018

Perhaps no book of the mid-twentieth century would prove as divisive as Betty Friedan’s seminal 1963 tome, The Feminine Mystique. Invited to conduct a survey on the satisfaction of fellow female graduates at a college reunion, journalist Friedan began an intent investigation into ‘the problem that has no name’, that is, a growing malaise amongst women who were seemingly living the American Dream. Credited with sparking the “second wave” of American feminism, the book proved a publishing phenomenon and became a flash point in the war over gender politics.

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