Women’s History Month 2013: early modern women & gender

Happy International Women’s Day!

Digital Resources

You can of course, visit the Gender section of Early Modern Resources any month of the year, but I’ll highlight a few relatively new resources that wouldn’t have appeared in previous roundups here.

ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830: “an online annual publication that serves as a forum for interactive scholarly discussion on all aspects of women in arts between 1640 and 1830, especially literature, visual arts, music, performance art, film criticism, and production arts”.

Who Were The Nuns?: “A Prosopographical study of the English Convents in exile 1600-1800”.

The Poetess Archive: “a resource for studying the literary history of popular British and American poetry… late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century popular poetry was often written in what came to be designated an “effeminate” style”.

Women’s Studies Group 1558 – 1837: “a small, informal multi-disciplinary group formed to promote women’s studies in the early modern period and the long eighteenth century”.


A few highlights from blogs tagged Gender at Early Modern Commons:

Good Gentlewoman: “the St John ladies and the people whose lives they touched”

his story, her story: “Medieval, Tudor and early modern women”

Jen Burke’s Blog: a lovely renaissance art history/culture blog

Women Writers, 1660-1800: “Exploring Authorial Adventures in the Long Eighteenth Century”, a very good students’ group blog.

Recent blogging

All the women we’ve never heard of: Women’s History Month (his story, her story)

Women’s History Month (In the Words of Women)

Beauty and the Pox (Early Modern Medicine)

Gender and the Newest Political History (The Junto)

Feminism and the Wives of Henry VIII? (Conor Byrne)

A few (good|bad) women

Frances Tradescant
Grizzell Apthorp: Widow, Employer, Property Owner
Agnes Bulmer: Poet of Methodist Experience
Elizabeth Bennet, shirt stealer? (1796)
Lady Mary Wroth – paving the way for women writers

Women’s History Carnival 2011, International Women’s Day Edition

Apologies: this was supposed to go up on 9 March, just after IWD, but work and life got in the way. Hope you enjoy it anyway!

Sources and Discussions

Women don’t always change channel when the bombs begin to fall | BBC History Magazine
Amanda Vickery looks at whether there really is a gender gap in historical programming: “bonnets for the women and battles for the blokes?”

Alchemy, Women and Data Visualisation
Sienna Latham writes on the role of data visualisation in her historical research on English women’s chymical activities during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Women’s history & Wikipedia’s gender gap
Shane Landrum commented on Wikipedia’s history coverage biases and did something about it: improving a women’s history article. He followed this up by setting up a WikiProject for Women’s History. Why not contribute something for Women’s History Month?

Exploring the History of Women – More on Documenting the Underdocumented
Melissa Mannon at ArchivesInfo lists some excellent online women’s history resources.

Women in the Arts and Professions

Fascinating Women: Nell Brinkley
From Edwardian Promenade, a post about the illustrator, Nell Brinkley, “one of the most popular and prolific of American illustrators” in the early 20th century’s “golden age of illustration”.

Madame de Sévigné
Mme Guillotine has a post about one of her literary heroines and personal influences.

Adventures in Feministory: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
LIndsay Baltus looks at Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s life and work (it’s not just the Yellow Wallpaper…).

Women First
The sex disqualification (removal) act of 1919 enabled women to enter the legal profession and the civil service and to become jurors: Philip Carter looks at six trailblazers.

An Uppity Dutch Master (part 1)
Judith Weingarten’s brilliant series of posts on Judith Leyster from last year (Part II; Part III).

Women and Science

Dangerous Curves: Maria Gaetana Agnesi
A wonderful post by Jennifer Ouellette, at Wonders and Marvels last year, about “the Walking Polyglot” who could speak French, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, German and Latin by the time she was 13, wrote a seminal mathematics textbook, and became a nun.

Lise Meitner
Milena Popova wrote about Lise Meitner, a pioneering female physicist who worked on the early development of nuclear fission, and highlighted the discrimination faced by women scientists.

Women and Science, Past and Present
Philippa Hardman explores a similar theme of women’s historical struggles to participate in science equally with men, focusing on Darwin’s female correspondents.

Queens and Heroines

The Many Guises of Marie Antoinette
Emily Brand at The Artist’s Progress explored how Marie Antoinette was represented in French caricature “from the first rustlings of revolution to her execution in 1793”.

A Woman Will Be King
Judith Weingarten explained how Queen Bōrān became the King of Kings, the first female sole ruler of Persia. She also has a post on The Uppity Queen Arsinoë II, “one of the feistiest Hellenistic queens ever”.

History Heroine: Susan Travers
Katrina Gulliver writes at Notes from the Field on a heroine of World War II.

Rebels and Troublemakers

On March 4, Remember the Grand Picket for Voting Rights
Ann Bausum posts on the protests for female suffrage by the National Woman’s Party. This post is just one from a month-long blogging project, Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month, with a series of posts from children’s authors and bloggers about famous women and events related to women’s history.

10 Things You Should Know About Clara Lemlich
Jewesses With Attitude posts on the life of Clara, a leader of the mass strike of shirtwaist workers in New York’s garment industry in 1909.

Live-Blogging Women’s History: March 3, 1913
Ms Magazine Blog is “live blogging” a series “this day in feminist history” posts throughout March: this chronicles a massive suffrage parade and pageant in Washington DC.


‘The Somersetshire Lady’ a 17thc Ballad
From Women in Medieval and Early Modern History, a sad story; it may be fiction but reflects the reality of the lack of control married women had over their finances and lives.

I Am a young Wife that has cause to complain,
Yet I fear all my sorrowful Sighs are in vain;
For my Husband he is an invincible Sot,
There is nothing he minds but the Pipe, and the Pot:
When a Husband he is a sad Spendthrift, you know
Then a Wife must sad Sorrow and Grief undergoe…

‘I Shall Have to Answer Before my Maker…’ Or: Amelia Dyer and the Baby Farming Trade:
The Victorianist writes on the life and death of Amelia Dyer, whose case “brought to light the abuses in baby-farming” and caused a Victorian scandal.

The South Cerney Tragedy
From Cotswold History Blog, this is the harrowing story of Mary Hannah and her children.

Material Lives

Celebrate Women’s History Month by Picking Up a Needle and Thread
Craftzine.com blog surveys two centuries of women’s sewing.

Women in the Business of Food
Australian Women’s History forum is focusing for WHM 2011 on women who made significant contributions to the history of food, in cooking or in education, science, or technology and challenged “perceptions about women’s unpaid domestic skills”.

Frederick Douglass’s Women: In Progress: Anna Douglass’s Bandanna
Leigh Fought is intrigued by an item of Anna Douglass’s wardrobe: “The red bandanna caught my attention. White women did not tend to dress like that. They wore caps and bonnets and hats. Go south, however, to Savannah, to Charleston, to plantations, and black women wore scarves around their heads”.

Fabric Samples from an Early New York Businesswoman
The New-York Historical Society Library Collections Blog highlights the records of the business of Mary Alexander, which “provide a glimpse into the life of a colonial NYC businesswoman”.

Farthingales & Vizards – Elizabethan Women & their Dress
Dainty Ballerina has a lavishly illustrated and detailed look at what Elizabethan women wore.

Mother’s Friend
The Quack Doctor brings us “a liniment that claimed to make labour a doddle”.

In Brief

And lastly…

For a little fun: Good Queen Bess from Hark, a Vagrant.


Thanks for nominations: Katrina Gulliver, Judith Weingarten, Margo Tanenbaum, Chris McDowall, and all the people who posted interesting links on Twitter!

There will hopefully be another Carnival later in the month to round up activity after IWD: I’m looking for a volunteer host (more info here)!

Women’s History Month, as an academic women’s historian

Women’s History Month is a great event, but one that tends to leave me feeling slightly dissatisfied. The thing is… so much of “Women’s History Month” looks more like “Women’s Biography Month”. And I’m not knocking that per se – I enjoy reading posts about heroines and rebels as much as anyone, they’re often good stories that deserve wider circulation, and it’s a good way to upset assumptions that women in the past didn’t do much of anything.

It’s just that after a while it starts to feel like a feminine mirror of a very old Great Dead Men approach to history. And, yes, I know the Great Dead Men still largely reign supreme in history writing and reading outside academic circles, and Women’s History Month is largely a popular history event not an academic one. So it’s not that surprising if a lot of it looks rather like the popular history of the other 11 months of the year, but with more skirts and less facial hair.

But I think it’s all the more important for academic women’s and gender historians to remember to do a bit more: this month is a great opportunity to show the world something of the breadth and variety of the knowledge produced by our years of sheer hard work in archives and libraries, and the richness and complexity of women’s – and men’s – pasts.

Women’s History Carnival

March is Women’s History Month, and this year International Women’s Day (8 March) is 100 years old. To mark the occasion, the History Carnival is running a special Women’s History blogs event throughout the month.

To mark International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the History Carnival is inaugurating a special Women’s History Carnival for March 2011, for all blogs and blogging about the history of women, gender and feminism. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen yet, but hopefully it’ll be a bit different from the usual History Carnivals:

There will be at least one Carnival post, but we’d like to do much more than that! We’ll publicise any great blogging or themed events we come across (or you tell us about) and generally do our best to encourage discussion and bang the drum for women’s history.

Ways you could take part in WHC11:

  • Write a blog post, and comment on other blogs
  • Nominate blog posts – your own and other bloggers’ – for the Carnival (see below)
  • Get discussion going on Twitter – the main tag is #whm; the tag for WHC is #whc11, and the tag for women historians on Twitter is #twitterstoriennes
  • Got any more suggestions? Get in touch!

I’ll be hosting the Carnival here at Early Modern Notes on about 9 March, just after International Women’s Day. (There should be a second Carnival post towards the end of March as well, so don’t worry if you miss this one.) In addition to recent posts, there will be a selection of the best women’s history blogging since March last year, so you’re welcome to send your favourites too!

There are several ways you can nominate posts for the WHC:

1. We have a special nominations form for the WHC. (Don’t use the normal HC form for this one.)
2. Email me using my contact form.
3. On Twitter: send a tweet @historycarnival or @sharon_howard, or simply add the hashtag #whc11 to any tweet.
4. On Delicious.com: tag a bookmark with whc11 and it will appear in the WHC Delicious feed.