Gender and Sexuality

Attention Weightlessness! Cosmonaut Training in the USSR
02 September 2016

Visitors to my desk tend to comment on two things; firstly, the fan incessantly running regardless of the season, and secondly, the postcards propped up under the monitor. Bought from an exhibition gift shop last autumn, the cards feature Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova - respectively the first man and woman in space – against a back drop of hammers, sickles and rockets, staring nobly out into the office from under their helmets. My interest in - or perhaps idolatry of - these famed cosmonauts was sparked by our upcoming video resource, Socialism on Film, which is being produced in conjunction with the British Film Institute.

The Power of Etiquette in 19th Century America
21 July 2016

“Everyday Life & Women in America” is a recently revamped resource for the study of American social, cultural and popular history, providing access to rare primary source material from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History, Duke University and The New York Public Library. The collection is especially rich in conduct of life and domestic management literature, offering vivid insights into the daily lives of women and men through the use of documents such as etiquette advice manuals.

An Eighteenth Century Hiddleswift
17 June 2016

Celebrity gossip: a sustainable source of cheap entertainment since time immemorial, and the proof is in our primary sources. Pandemonium ensued in the Adam Matthew office yesterday morning, all because Taylor Swift is now dating Tom Hiddleston. We’re not proud of it, but nevertheless we indulged in gossiping heatedly about this new development in Taylor Swift’s eventful love life.

Town Topics: The Journal of Society
06 May 2016

Everyday Life & Women in America c.1800-1920 features a full run of the rare periodical Town Topics: The Journal of Society (1887-1923) from the New York Public Library. Town Topics was a weekly periodical offering literature reviews, short fictional stories, sporting news and financial advice. The periodical actually began as The American Queen but the name was changed to Town Topics when Colonel E.D. Mann assumed the editorship in 1891. As well as the name the success and the tone of the magazine were also set to change.

Emma Abbott the pre-Madonna prima donna: extraordinary everyday lives of women in 19th century America
01 April 2016

Singing about California while wearing a cupcake bra, running a business, racing yachts around the world, writing and producing a TV show, telling jokes to millions of people, leading a political party, writing Nobel prize-winning fiction, looking for cures, performing surgery … the list of fun, incredible and important work that women do these days goes on and on. Ok, so we don’t all own a cupcake bra like Katy Perry, but we do have the ability to choose a career that we want and for most women work is a part of our everyday lives.

Guy Fawkes the Feminist
17 March 2016

Excuse me - late to the party, as always - but last week, International Women’s Day, the annual celebration dedicated to championing 50% of the population for 0.27% of the year, rolled around once again.

In need of some advice?
12 February 2016

I think it’s fair to say we probably all need a little advice from time-to-time and in this modern world there seems to be no shortage of professionals, books, websites and television shows to turn to when we need a little guidance. But this is by no means a modern phenomenon; guides offering advice have been circulating for centuries.

Fun, Sun and Summer Flings
07 September 2015

Summer in the northern hemisphere is drawing to a close and with it comes the end of peak holiday season. ‘Back to School’ advertisements and darker evenings remind us that the summer holiday is over, but it won’t be long until travel agents are persuading us to book next year’s dream getaway. To cheer myself up in the meantime I’ve been browsing holiday and tourism paraphernalia from the 1960s and dreaming of vacationing in a more glamourous age.

The Utter Ruin of Mary Musgrove Bosomworth
02 September 2015

Documents included in Colonial America cover daring feats of piracy, bloody wars, rugged expeditions through frontiers infested with ‘vigorous rattlesnakes’ and reams of legislation that ultimately shaped a nation. However, after hours spent tilting my head this way and that in an attempt to decipher the handwriting of various clerks, it has become clear that the lives of women within the Thirteen Colonies were of less interest to record keepers than politics and trade. A queen may have sat on the throne when English explorers first landed on the coast of Virginia, but the age of empire was, primarily, an age of withered, wigged, white men.

The Freed Slaves of the South
19 June 2015

While indexing the documents in our American History, 1493-1945 collection I found a curious printed book from 1915, entitled ‘Aunt Phebe, Uncle Tom and others’ by Mrs Essie Collins Matthews. This is a collection of character studies and photographs of freed slaves living in the South fifty years after abolition came into effect.

Eleanor Roosevelt's Universal Rights
04 June 2015

In the year that we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, and the UK government questions Britain’s part in the European Convention on Human Rights, it is a poignant time to reflect on the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Central to this was Eleanor Roosevelt who was already heavily involved in social justice and human rights by the time she became First Lady in the White House in 1933.

Equal Pay for Equal Work
27 February 2015

Through all the glitz and glam of the Oscars one part of the ceremony that has got everyone talking is Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech for her Best Supporting Actress award. She received huge support in the theatre audience (as can be seen in the reactions of the likes of Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez) and created a stir on social media as she demanded equal rights for women.

He-Men and Homemakers: Gender in Mid-20th Century Advertising
24 September 2014

Unfortunately Emma Watson throwing down the UN HeForShe gauntlet this week came too late for the male-dominated mid-20th century advertising industry. They were well aware that 75% of the buying power in America was held by homemaking women, so actively reinforced gender inequality, in fear that their industry would crumble without it.

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