Friday, March 8, 2013

Archive Adventures: Women's History

It's Women's History Month (March 8th is International Women's Day), and what better way to celebrate than to take a look at our own trove of women's history.

By the time I was born, women's rights were pretty firmly established in the US. Voting was something my mum towed me to way too early in the morning, there were diverse women in TV and advertising, and no career or academic pursuit was unavailable to women just because of their gender. I now see, being older and (perhaps?) wiser, sometimes it is easy to overlook what was left behind when the rights have been established before my time. So bear with me and my excitement, because a lot of this is new to me!

On Youtube this month, we're celebrating with a video on Alice Schwartz, producer/host of the children's educational program "Key to the Cupboard." This was a pioneering moment for art education as well as public broadcasting, and "Key" helped build the foundation for some of the children's broadcasting greats to come later. Take a look and find out how to "Make Something out of Nothing"...

I also found out that we have a large collection of women's sports photographs. PSU used to have a Women's Recreation Association. Some of the pictures we have are truly outstanding, and a bit shocking for the likes of us (including me!) who had no idea that despite early 20th century "modesty" standards for women, they were kicking up as much dust as men on the playing field.

The pioneering 1925 competing Rifle Team (who never got to compete due to late registration)

Women's Basketball, Varsity Team, 1922

For instance, the shorts on the javelin thrower definitely surprised me...

....but not as much as the cross country photo.

I can't stand running, but to do it in long skirts and stockings? Bravo to those women! Can you imagine doing 210 miles of that? Fellow archivist Paul K. found a great 1924 La Vie entry about the point system in women's sports at PSU. Click the picture to increase its size and readability.

If you're a bookish type, there's always the Joan Huber papers (1961-2011). They are a great collection to get into if you like studying sociology, women's history, or both! Her papers include correspondence, research, teaching materials, and public addresses, many of them dealing with her in-depth studies relating to gender stratification and her work with the American Sociologists Association and Sociologists for Women in Society.

At last, I'm going to leave you with a box I found (by doing my normal routine when I'm first looking for blog sustenance: toss a word in and play "six degrees of finding aids"). I'm so glad I got to look at this collection and share it with everyone! Women's suffrage wasn't an easy battle to be won, it seems, despite my thinking that it's a no-brainer. Why shouldn't women be able to vote? Looking at the pamphlets, flyers, and cartoons really brought it home that the Suffrage movement was a huge deal, and involved a lot of tears, sweat, and blood to get it passed. It also gave me a new perspective on how the people who were against Suffrage came to their "vote no" conclusions!

We have a whole slew of political comics like this one in the Suffrage collection

Pamphlets and flyers for the anti-suffrage movement in Pennsylvania

Men's League for Women's Suffrage flyer

See you in April!