Silence in the Archives, Part I: Inviting Inquiry

Featured

When the Digital Center’s TriCoDH summer intern Brenna Levitin ’16 last wrote about her project, she was in the early stages of researching Bryn Mawr’s LGBT history. Recently, Brenna’s focus has shifted to methods for acknowledging silence in the archives, and she is now looking at ways to use her final exhibition project to represent—not fill—that silence.

I’ve begun this blog post four times, each hoping that this iteration will be the one that gels—the one that sums up archival silence in just the right way. I’ve realized, however, that perhaps the problem is the subject matter itself. Archival silence is not an easy topic: each interaction illuminates a single page of history and three blank books. Perhaps that’s why this blog post has been hard to write; after all, writing about what does not exist is difficult and an overwhelmingly foreign task to a fledgling historian.

Historians are intimately familiar with silence; one of the first things which my historian major advisor reminded me to think about for this project was silence. Anyone who attempts to write from physical archives knows the weight of the silence contained within; anyone using oral histories acknowledges the silence from those who did not, would not, or could not volunteer.

My project uses what little the physical archives contains alongside oral histories, cross-referencing the two in an attempt to provide the fullest picture of Bryn Mawr’s LGBT history possible. Even if I am able to confirm the veracity of the information, I still need a way of representing the silence. A truly complete image of history will never be reached for any subject, especially not for any study of minorities. Archives are writ by the victors, not the marginalized sexual minorities.

PhillyDH@Penn via Technical.ly Philly

PhillyDH@Penn via Technical.ly Philly

Last month, I explored this topic in an unconference session at PhillyDH@Penn. An animated group discussed visualizing archival silence and its inherent problems. We discussed how to make silence not just noticeable, but enticing; in a physical museum if viewers are invited to uncover something, they are often more likely to look at it. Moreover, the physicality of uncovering actively involves them in the process. They don’t simply gaze passively at a blank space, wonder about it for a moment, and move on; instead they boldly take action, resulting in questioning their assumptions about history as a process and about the preservation of minority culture.

This method of inviting an action or inquiry of an empty or blank space also queers the act of disseminating history. By doing so, not only do we move away from static installations built of text and images; we provoke critical thought about the historical process. Readers are thus encouraged to think as historians, to critically consider the landscape of history as subjective and fluid. As we elucidate the history of queer experiences at Bryn Mawr, my hope is that we also illuminate the historical process. To me, digital humanities is all about making academia accessible. To illustrate archival gaps by revealing the silences and amplifying the voices of queer community members is a worthy goal.

Next week, Brenna’s post will discuss the search for a technology to help document her findings and visualize silence.

Technology and Feminism: Rethinking our Digital Tools

Featured

June and July have been busy months so far for the Greenfield Digital Center. Rather than a slowing of activity, the departures of students and faculty members from campus have left us free to reach out and connect to broader communities of feminist and digital scholars. I have recently attended several events and programs, including the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria, British Columbia, Philly DH at Penn, and the “GLAM Day Out” LGBTQ Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia.

GLAM_Day_Out_poster_SmallerThere have been equally exciting developments happening closer to home, as well. Our regular followers will recall that we are hosting summer intern Brenna Levitin with funding and programmatic support from the Tri-Co Digital Humanities Initiative, and, of course, we welcomed Monica L. Mercado as the Digital Center’s new Director on July 1st.  The last two months have brought a flood of new ideas, people, and potential research.

With new projects underway and a new leader in place, this summer seemed like a perfect transitional moment to do some reflecting on theory and methodology. We have now been using the same tools (Omeka, WordPress, and a handful of others—for two years, and I felt it was time to renew my consciousness of the relationship between the technology we use and the content we produce. When I enrolled in Feminist Digital Humanities at DHSI, my interest in the course was inspired by the idea that it might help me ground a more thoughtful approach to how we use technology to further feminist and historical inquiries at the Greenfield Digital Center.

Continue reading

A Point of Difference: Diversity at Bryn Mawr College

Featured

A Point of DifferenceLast summer, Bryn Mawr’s Pensby Center interns Alexis De La Rosa ’15 and Lauren Footman ’14 began research on histories of diversity on campus, with a particular focus on students and staff of color. Their research took many forms: surveys, new photography, and oral history, as well as research in the College Archives. We’re pleased to announce that their project is now online, and hosted on the Digital Center’s website:

A Point of Difference: Diversity at Bryn Mawr College

Alexis De La Rosa and Lauren Footman

Alexis De La Rosa and Lauren Footman

Over the past year, Alexis and Lauren have reflected on the origins of their project. More recently, Digital Center Associate Director Evan McGonagill considered how we document the experiences of students of color in our archives and institutional histories–what she called building an archive of change. In the conclusion of their exhibit, Alexis and Lauren write:

We hope our work will just be the beginning of an ongoing institutional commitment to research, acknowledge, and document the experiences and contributions of marginalized communities on campus, and join us in celebrating this rich history.

We view this research as necessary, and just the beginning of what we imagine as more projects linking student interest in the history of Bryn Mawr College to our diverse communities. We’re looking forward to continuing these conversations on campus, and in our digital spaces.

Do you have historical knowledge or personal information about diversity on campus in the last twenty-five years (or beyond)? Share your experiences in the comments below, or contact us on Twitter @GreenfieldHWE or by email: greenfieldhwe@brynmawr.edu.

A New Start: Monica’s First Days at the Greenfield Digital Center

Featured

On July 1, 2014, Monica L. Mercado joined Bryn Mawr College Libraries as the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow and Director of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education.

Last week, I unpacked my boxes, learned how to read the SEPTA train schedule, and arrived on campus, eager to dig into Bryn Mawr Special Collections and the resources supported by the Digital Center.

Exploring Bryn Mawr's campus.

Exploring Bryn Mawr’s campus.

This month I’m getting up to speed on our NEH-funded planning grant, already underway, which is supporting the development of a collaborative digital portal with the libraries of Barnard College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Vassar College, Wellesley College, and the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. [You might have seen the project announced on Technical.ly Philly last month.] This portal will make available materials documenting the first generation of students at the colleges once known as the “Seven Sisters,” and we hope it will offer researchers new access and insights into the experiences of women at our institutions in their founding years and beyond.

I’m also interested in considering how the Digital Center and the College Archives can document more recent histories of women’s education. This summer, we’re lucky to have TriCoDH summer intern Brenna Levitin (BMC ’16) at the Digital Center. Brenna is currently investigating queer histories of Bryn Mawr for a future digital exhibition, mining the College Archives, and beginning an oral history project that we hope will continue after her internship concludes.

Monica's summer reading: A Book of Bryn Mawr Stories (1901)

Monica’s summer reading: A Book of Bryn Mawr Stories (1901)

I’m already energized by sharing a workspace with Brenna and the College Archives’ other student workers, who are happy to answer all my questions about campus! Moreover, advising students like Brenna doing new research in women’s education history has been a terrific introduction to the wealth of materials housed in Bryn Mawr’s archives (and already digitized), but also suggests to me ways in which the Digital Center can be part of a conversation about collections development, and how we document the last few decades of student life.

Although it may be the middle of summer, we’re busy planning for the year ahead. With the greater College community, we’re looking forward to the formal inauguration of Bryn Mawr’s ninth President, Kimberly Wright Cassidy, on September 20, for which I’ll be creating my first digital exhibition. And as I prepare my upcoming course on women’s education history for the Bryn Mawr College History Department, I’ll be reviewing how the Digital Center can serve as a more robust repository of ideas for college-level teaching in women’s history.

We’re also beginning to think about a second conference, building on the success of last year’s meeting, Women’s History in the Digital World. In many ways, my own introduction to digital history was facilitated by the connections I made at that inaugural conference, and I hope to use the Digital Center as a platform to reach audiences new to digital projects in women’s and gender history, as well as to support the work of a growing group of historians, archivists, and digital humanists who are making possible the future of the feminist past.

As part of getting to know the Bryn Mawr community, I’ll be working closely with Digital Center Assistant Director Evan McGonagill to continue to build relationships with College alumnae/i as well as scholars engaged in the growing field of digital history. Through our website, this blog, and other social media,including tumblr and Twitter, as well as events on campus, we hope you’ll continue to follow our work.

Veritatem dilexi: Lesbian

Featured

BrennaLevitin

Brenna Levitin, Class of 2016

Welcome to summer! We have partnered with the Tri-Co Digital Humanities Initiative  this year to sponsor a Greenfield intern to conduct historical research in the college archives for a digital project. Brenna Levitin, class of 2016, is a Gender and Sexuality Studies major and will be spending the summer excavating some of the history of queer individuals and groups on campus at Bryn Mawr. In just over a week in the archives Brenna has covered an immense amount of material and has already uncovered some interesting finds. Here, she shares a poem written by an alumna from the class of 1968 that was published in the 1989 Alumnae Bulletin. Look for more posts from Brenna as the summer continues!


Bryn Mawr is often associated with lesbians by the world’s collective conscious. This association and its accompanying veracity have, however not always been publically acknowledged by the college itself. When looking through the archive, LGBT sentiments most often crop up in student publications. These newspapers, zines, and booklets give passionate voice to the oft-marginalized lesbian[i] students.

In 1989, the Alumnae Bulletin published “The Pluralism Issue,” which gave voice to those alumnae/i who felt marginalized on campus. The editors sent out a call for submissions of writing about the minority experience throughout Bryn Mawr’s 104 year history. Most wrote about the lives of racial and ethnic minorities, but a vocal section described living as lesbians on a campus simultaneously approbative and hostile to homosexuality. Responses came from far—class of 1939 and near—class of 1989, from anonymous submissions with vague graduation dates to those who confidently outed themselves.

One submission was the following poem, written in 1989 by Judith Masur ’68. The poem discusses the experience of a lesbian living within the predominant heterosexual culture of Bryn Mawr. Though awareness of sexual minorities is a fairly recent event, Masur elegantly weaves the tale of lesbianism throughout all of Bryn Mawr’s history, from M. Carey Thomas to the present.

 Poemp19

The first reference, to Bryn Mawr’s motto, is repeated twice.

Veritatem dilexi

Veritatem dilexi: Lesbian

“Veritatem dilexi” means I delight in the truth. Which truth is left ambiguous, but is implied to be the existence of lesbians at Bryn Mawr. It is easy to see how lesbianism can be an eternal truth of Bryn Mawr: from M. Carey Thomas’s journals, to Applebee’s eponymous column, to the open mic nights of today, literary expressions of lesbianism are threaded through our history like one strand in a complex tapestry.

The second stanza makes blatant reference to M. Carey Thomas and her partners, Mamie Gwinn and Mary Garrett, who lived together with Thomas (at different times) in her on-campus residence, the Deanery.

The President’s ‘friend’
The First Dean’s ‘companion’

Lesbianism as it is now understood did not exist in the 1890s, either as perversion or as fact of life. Gwinn and Garrett were explained as Thomas’s dear friends and companions, words which inadequately summed up their relationships as romantic and likely sexual partners.

M. Carey Thomas is referenced again later:

What was it she said
About marriage and failure?
Maybe we got it right the first time

The anonymous “she” is Thomas, often misquoted as saying that only Bryn Mawr’s failures marry. Most likely, the quote was closer to, “Our failures only marry.” The poem wonders at the common misconception, inquiring whether the mistaken Thomas quote is perhaps the correct one. Written when marriage equality was not even a star on the horizon, the poem implicates heterosexual marriage as failure. Those who married men, failed. Perhaps the ultimate failure is, as a school, to erase the rich history of lesbians at Bryn Mawr.

This post is the first of a series concerning the history of LGBT presence at Bryn Mawr College.


[i] We use lesbian here because we are primarily discussing time periods where other non-heterosexual sexualities were not yet understood. We acknowledge and affirm the existence of bisexual and pansexual students on campus, and we hope that these remarks will be understood as addressing them, and any other woman-lovers, as well as the named lesbians.

History of the Seven Sisters: a quiz and a lecture

Featured

It’s time for a history of women’s education quiz!
(in honor of finals week)

SevenSisters1

History of the Seven Sisters talk at Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia, April 22, 2014

  1. In their early years, which two Seven Sisters schools required domestic work as part of their students’ education in order to maintain femininity and prevent them from being perceived as unmarriagable?
  2. Which school is credited with starting women’s basketball in 1892, less than a year after the game was invented for men?
  3. When one school began to pursue a full college charter, it was vehemently opposed by then president of Bryn Mawr, M. Carey Thomas, who considered it to be the only real competition to Bryn Mawr’s formidable academic standard. Which school posed the perceived threat?
  4. Which school was the first and only to hire an all-female faculty upon its founding?
  5. From its beginnings, one school was known for a much more ethnically, religiously, and politically diverse student body than those of the others due to its urban environment and its lower tuition. Can you name the institution?Answers at the bottom of the post, and in the lecture video below!

These were among the new facts that I learned while researching for a talk on the history of the Seven Sisters Colleges, which I delivered to a group of alumnae/i from the Seven Sisters Alumnae Clubs of Philadelphia at the Fleisher Art Memorial on April 22nd. The event was organized by Erin Rocchio (MHC ’06), the president of the Mount Holyoke College Club of Philadelphia, and hosted by Elizabeth Grimaldi (BMC ’03), executive director of Fleisher. We had over sixty attendees, representing a dynamic and intergenerational group of Seven Sisters graduates.

SevenSistersHistory_Fleisher_04222014_02

Evan McGonagill

It was a challenge to squeeze such a fascinating history into a single hour: each school has a unique story of its own, and I struggled to choose which details to omit. However, rather than focusing closely on individual schools, my goal was to show the ways in which all seven evolved together both in relation to each other and to the shifting cultural environment that surrounded them. The mid- and late-nineteenth century, which forms the backdrop against which the schools were launched, was a time of deep skepticism regarding women’s intellect. The climate gradually changed as the experiment of college education for women successfully navigated its first few years and mainstream culture began to embrace the idea. However, the twentieth century brought its own complex mixture of advances in women’s rights (such as the victory of the suffrage movement) and new barriers to women’s equality, some of which precipitated directly from the schools’ initial success. It is a very interesting history (in my opinion!) and I enjoyed researching the details of the schools’ foundings in addition to the ways that their identities developed in contrast to one another.

SevenSisters2

Seven Sisters Alumnae/i engage in discussion after the lecture

I was delighted to be able to talk to the alumnae/i about this history, and to hold a dialogue about issues facing institutions for women’s education in the present day. I synced the slides from my Prezi presentation with audio from the talk, which you can view and listen to below. You can listen to most of the talk** below, where it is synced with the slides from my Prezi presentation. Look for a brief cameo from Lisa Simpson towards the beginning! As always, please contribute your thoughts on the history, present, or future of women’s education in the comments.

Quiz answers!

1. Mount Holyoke and Vassar
2. Smith College
3. Radcliffe College
4. Wellesley College
5. Barnard College

*Since the audio recording is clipped due to sound clarity in the beginning, my credits were omitted: the talk drew on many sources but relied most heavily on the excellent and informative Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women’s Colleges From Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s, (Beacon Press, 1984) by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz.

**The battery from the recorder unfortunately cut out before the discussion ended, but the first few minutes of dialogue are captured.

 

 

Sharing Student Writings Across the Seven Sisters: History of Women’s Education Open Access Portal Project

Featured

As we announced last week, we recently learned that our grant proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities has been successfully funded. For interested and curious members of the community, here are more details of the project:

The one-year planning grant we received is for an endeavor spearheaded by The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education to lead a collaboration between the schools once known as the Seven Sisters, which include Bryn Mawr College, Barnard College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Vassar College, Wellesley College, and the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. We have proposed to develop a shared approach to cataloging and providing access to digital versions of letters, diaries, and scrapbooks of the first generations of students of all seven schools.

The Seven Sisters schools were at the forefront of advanced education for women in the United States, educating many of the most ambitious, socially conscious, and intellectually committed women in the country. Going to college in the early years was not only an intellectually and socially awakening experience for these women, but it also provided an occasion for most of them to engage in extensive letter writing to family and friends, and to keep diaries and scrapbooks that preserved their impressions, ambitions, and memories of these first years of independence from home. Large numbers of these student writings are now preserved but siloed in the libraries of the seven schools, where they constitute an unparalleled and only partially tapped resource for the study of a wide range of women’s history issues over the last century and a half. The collections include discussions of race and class, political reform and women’s rights, sexuality and body image, the experience of being Jewish at predominantly Protestant institutions, interactions with students from Europe and Asia, and the experience of living through wars, the pandemic of 1918-1919, and the Depression.  This funding will allow us to make our collections more widely accessible to researchers and the general public through the development of a common search portal featuring digitized and transcribed facsimiles and an agreed-upon set of metadata and shared thematic vocabulary standards.

Currently, public use of the collections is impeded by their dispersal across the seven campuses and by the limited status of digitization of the items. The research value of these materials would be greatly increased by the ability to consider them as a whole body, rather than as associated fragments. The goal of this project, therefore, is to offer access to the papers through a single portal focusing on the experiences of students at women’s colleges. Since the value of a shared portal depends upon an agreed-upon set of standards for cataloging, taxonomy, transcription and digitization, a major part of the project’s work will be devoted to developing these standards.

The grant will fund one year of extensive planning between the schools, at the end of which we hope to embark on a program of digitization and transcription of student writings to be made accessible through the new portal. A longer-term goal is to implement a structure capable of accommodating digitized contributions from a wider group of institutions, further expanding the scope and utility of the aggregated collection.

Though the original visionary of the project, Jennifer Redmond, has since moved on, we look forward to working with Monica Mercado when she arrives in July to direct the Greenfield Digital Center in this next exciting phase of our work!

National Endowment for the Humanities Funds the History of Women’s Education Open Access Portal Project

Featured

Student_studyingBryn Mawr has just been awarded a $39,650 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its “History of Women’s Education Open Access Portal Project,”  being run through the Greenfield Digital Center. This will be a one-year project to plan and conduct pilot work for an online portal to archival sources pertaining to the history of women’s higher education in the United States, and it is being done in collaboration with the special collections departments of the other Seven Sisters Colleges: Barnard, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley, and the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.  We will be posting much more about this exciting project in the coming months!

Bryn Mawr in the New York Times, 102 Years Ago Today

Featured

A quick post today to share a neat archival specimen found by College Communications intern Ivy Gray-Klein (Bryn Mawr Banter Blogger and champion of the College instagram). Ivy sent this New York Times archived article from March 10, 1912 our way: “Bryn Mawr Girls Tell Why They Chose This School in Preference to Others–How They Study and Play.” The article is a snapshot of Bryn Mawr life just over a hundred years ago. Some things are different, of course, but many remain the same.

Bryn Mawr Girls Tell_1

An image of the full text is posted at the bottom of this page. The column appears to be only the beginning of a longer piece, the rest of which is not included. Click on any of the images in the post to view and/or download the PDF from the New York Times.

The writer begins with a review of the campus’s picturesque suburban location, noting especially its proximity to the vast cultural offerings of Philadelphia. The “concerts, picture exhibitions, the theater, and the opera” to be experienced there apparently provided the 1912 Mawrtyr with a welcome “relief from work and the too feminine atmosphere,” which at times could “weigh on a student’s spirits.” Though the potential of temporary escape from such a stifling estrogen-drenched environment was an “asset to Bryn Mawr,” the greatest gift of the school’s location was that it provided access to both, whether or not the students made equal use of the two: “the students have all the advantages of a big city close at hand, while having country life at their door. There is little question that the country life is the most enjoyed.”

Pembroke Floorplan

Floor plan of Pembroke Hall showing varying prices for each room

Bryn Mawr’s dormitories have also always housed a diverse mixture of students. Unlike many institutions at which the residences correspond to the student’s class, the residence halls at Bryn Mawr were each a cross-section of the school, containing women of different ages and degree paths who commingled in the dorms. The article describes their efforts to practice social breadth at mealtimes:

At dinner the students sit at table with their friends of their own class, but to avoid exclusiveness on two nights a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, the fixed places at table are given up, and the seniors and graduates sit beside and get to know the younger students. “We do it, not because we want to, but because we think it good for us,” was the candid comment of a senior on this apparently altruistic plan.

Economic diversity has also been a long-standing feature of the residence halls. “There is no financial distinction,” reads the Times. “The cheapest and most expensive rooms are scattered throughout all the halls and often side by side, so in a truly democratic spirit the rich man’s daughter and the student who has a struggle to make both ends meet are brought together, to the advantage of both.” This was thought of as unusually progressive and sensitive to class privilege at the time, but we explored the flip-side of this arrangement in the digital exhibit Residing in the Past: Space, Identity, and Dorm Culture at Bryn Mawr College. Though it was a forward-thinking practice to deliberately interweave rooms of different prices, the public nature of the floor plans resulted in a high degree of exposure of social class for students who could not afford the more expensive rooms.

The Times‘s description of the 1912 Mawrtyr’s daily routine reveals some changes (“the student begins her day with attending chapel in Taylor Hall at 8:45 A. M.”) and some things that have remained very much the same (“After dinner there is time for talk, but every one expects to get in about two hours’ work before bedtime”). In the coverage of various College rituals, several familiar songs make an appearance, one annual tradition remains more or less identical in description, and one has disappeared altogether. Check out the full text of the article to find out which!

Bryn Mawr Girls Tell

Click the image to view the article on nytimes.com and download the full text.

 

March 10 1912 NYT After They Leave CollegeAdditional note: a search of the Times archive from March 10, 1912, reveals that the paper seems to have published a second article about the College on that day, shown at left: “After They Leave College: The Kind of Work the Bryn Mawr Graduates are Doing.” Click the article to view a higher resolution image. Though only a clipping is available online, it reveals some interesting statistics about the lives of the early generations–what percentages married, what percentages went into academia, and how many became milliners, are all revealed by the enticing clip. If anybody has a full copy of the Times from March 10, 1912, please do try to find the rest and let us know!

For more historical tid-bits and reflections on the history of women’s education, follow us on Twitter @GreenfieldHWE.

 

Women’s History Month 2014: Shaping Our Own Historical Narratives, and an Edit-a-Thon

Featured

Happy Women’s History Month!

PemArchSnow

Pembroke Arch in the Snow, via the Bryn Mawr College instagram

Here at the Greenfield Digital Center every month is women’s history month, but March is the #WmnHist-est month of all! This year we are celebrating by highlighting examples of women actively participating in the creation of the historical narrative. Rather than focusing exclusively on achievements of women in the past, we are encouraging women today to use their voices in the present to be agents of the historical record through whatever means are available to them. Our goal this month is to engage in actively shaping new narratives of the past, and to create opportunities for others to participate as well, so that we can move into the future with a richer self-understanding.

Recently I have been reflecting on the value of “activist, purposive” historical work, inspired in part by my participation in the History and Future of Higher Education (#FutureEd) MOOC, coordinated by HASTAC and led by Professor Cathy Davidson at Duke University. Davidson introduces this concept in order to shift the focus of historical work from the study of a static past to useful application in the present. Historiography tells us that there is no one historical truth: our understanding of the past is shaped by countless filters and biases. Therefore we must approach the study of history with awareness of our own filters and a clear idea of how we want to use knowledge of the past to shape our present and future. An “activist, purposive” history is one that approaches the past with questions about how we got where we are in order to empower ourselves to make changes that will take us where we want to go next. The Greenfield Digital Center proposes that we make March, 2014, a month of active explorations in history that give us the tools to execute important changes in our communities.

WIKIPEDIA: FILLING OUT THE HISTORICAL RECORD.

Hilda Worthington Smith: click here to view the Wikipedia article draft

Hilda Worthington Smith: click here to view the Wikipedia article

First, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting our first public Wikipedia edit-a-thon for WikiWomen’s History Month on Tuesday, March 25th, at Bryn Mawr College. In January we dedicated a blog post to reflecting on the value of using Wikipedia to write women back into history. (We also hosted a trial run edit-a-thon in which I began an article on Hilda Worthington Smith, which has now been finished but not yet approved for publication. Update: the article has been approved and posted!) Rather than having a narrowly defined theme like the Art + Feminism edit-a-thon that took place last month, this event will use the holdings of Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections to educate any user who is interested in learning the basics of editing Wikipedia, no experience necessary. Our iteration on the 25th will be one of several such events organized between the Seven Sisters Colleges:

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

  •  Barnard, Mount Holyoke, and Smith kick it off on Tuesday, March 4th (that’s today!). Join them in New York, South Hadley, or Northampton.
  • Radcliffe follows on March 12th in Cambridge.
  • Bryn Mawr wraps it up on the 25th: Our event page is a work-in-progress, but check it out now if you’re interesting in seeing a list of some of the articles that we will be working on improving.

Use hashtags #7sisterswiki and #WikiWomen to discuss the events and support those who are participating!

REVISITING, REWORKING, RETELLING OUR OWN NARRATIVES

While we prepare for the edit-a-thon at the end of the month, we will be practicing a different type of “activist, purposive” history throughout March. As we have discussed in this space, the act of uncovering the history of diversity at the college has been a recent topic of focus here. The role of prejudice in Bryn Mawr’s institutional history can be difficult to piece together, partially because during the early years of the college, cultural assumptions about what constituted prejudice looked very different from how they are today. This makes prejudice invisible but implicitly present in all of our early history, but as it became a topic of national conversation over the course of the twentieth century the sense of awareness shifted. We are now beginning to dedicate more energy to uncovering these more recent threads of our history, rather than treading back over increasingly familiar stories of M. Carey Thomas’s racism (the 1916 speech extolling white supremacy, the sly exclusion of talented black student Jessie Redmon Fauset).

Moving beyond a conception of prejudice that is stuck in the past

Moving beyond a conception of prejudice that is stuck in the past

Though they are still important, dwelling too much on the shortcomings of an individual figure in our very early history is simple and safe, and may come at the expense of exploring more recent stories that require attention and accountability in the present day. Part of our work this year for Women’s History Month will be highlighting and publishing work, such as that of the Pensby Interns, that reflects actively on our recent history and incorporates the experiences of students, faculty, staff, and alumnae, to create a richer picture of who we are as a community. This new content will include a digital exhibit, several oral history interviews from alumnae, staff and faculty, and the results of a survey on diversity that was conducted over the summer. Explicit in this project is the question of what we can do to address the rifts that still exist more than 125 years after the College’s founding.

Watch this space over the course of the month as we reexamine key moments in the history of the College with an eye towards change in the present, and join us at our Wikipedia edit-a-thon to exercize your voice in the public record!

Don’t forget to spread the word: use #7sisterswiki and #WikiWomen and follow us on Twitter @GreenfieldHWE, and Tumblr at http://greenfield-digitalhistory.tumblr.com/.

“College Tackles Racism and Classism” in 1988: Learning From a Quarter Century of Conflict over Campus Diversity

Featured

HeadlineWhile browsing through a copy of the Summer 1988 Alumnae Bulletin this month, I came across an article in the “What Goes On” column of campus updates entitled “College Tackles Racism and Classism.” Noting its relevance to recent conversations in the college community, I perused the pages to get a sense of the climate of the college around these issues in the ‘80s. In doing so I learned about an event in the college’s history that reveals visible roots of our current dialogues on the topic of diversity.

Flipping through the Alumnae Bulletin in Special Collections

Flipping through the Alumnae Bulletin in Special Collections

THE ARTICLE. The piece begins by setting the scene: “On the morning of Tuesday, April 19, students, faculty, and staff filled Goodhart auditorium to capacity for an all-college convocation on racism and classism….The convocation was in response to a statement, written by two undergraduates and signed by more than 400 members of the college community, which asserted: ‘[E]ven though the administration may have fooled itself into thinking that it is actively opposed to racist and classist prejudices, it certainly has not fooled us,’ and went on to cite examples of prejudice from students quoted anonymously.” The story then includes several quotations that illustrate students’ encounters with prejudice on campus (shown in a graphic below), as well as describing demands brought by the student body and the response of President McPherson. I followed the trail to The College News–the paper known in its current iteration as the Bi-Co News–and read further coverage of the petition and the convocation incident in the April 8th, 1988, and April 22nd, 1988 issues, which are available on microfilm in Special Collections.

Perry House

Perry House

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. Stumbling upon this outcry of frustration1 from a past generation of students felt like déjà vu. It brought to mind a period during my freshman year in spring, 2007, a similar campus-wide crisis around the handling of race and class. The headline printed at the beginning of this post will also remind many of the more recent dialogues around the loss of Perry House,2 which have been both painful and productive. Feeling a disturbing sense of resonance between the 1988 episode and the various others that have occurred in years since, I was led to the question: are we reliving our own history over and over again? Are we cycling through the same ruptures with every new generation of undergraduates, losing all of the healing and the learned experience every four years?

MEASURING PROGRESS. The challenge of assessing how far we have moved forward since 2007, 1988, or 1885 is in the fact that campus climate on issues like these is always diffused across the beliefs, behaviors and tacit cultural knowledge of a diverse and fluctuating group—making quantifiable analyses elusive. I made a first attempt at numerical measure by turning to the course catalog. Students in 1988 called for an increase in classes featuring non-Western populations and minority groups. My rough comparison between the course guides from spring 1988 and spring 2014 shows an increase of almost 30% in classes that fit that description (from 28 to 36).3 The change is good to see, but I would speculate that it is also indicative of a globalizing national culture and a general shift towards more inclusive worldviews, rather than being reflective exclusively of attitude changes at Bryn Mawr.

A less scientific angle is to analyze whether the institution is doing a better job of supporting dialogue and accountability around issues of racism and classism. Part of the impetus for the 1988 convocation was that a group called the Minority Coalition (made up of several sub-groups of minority students’ associations) submitted an impressive list of demands for institutional action. These included increased enrollment of minority students and hiring of minority staff and faculty, more focus on non-Western populations in the curriculum, designated spaces for minority groups on campus, and support for programs and inclusive conversations addressing race and class.

Mary Patterson McPherson, the sixth President of Bryn Mawr College

Mary Patterson McPherson, the sixth President of Bryn Mawr College

In response, President McPherson established an Affirmative Action Advisory Board and directed the Deans’ Office to organize a series of anti-racism workshops to be held each fall. These measures, though far from “fixing” the problem, seem in retrospect to be the seeds of an important shift: they acknowledge the responsibility of higher level administration to foster institutional self-awareness and accountability, and they attempt to remove some of the “burden…[ from] the students, particularly the minority students, to call the college to task,”4 a concern that was expressed at the convocation. They create sustained infrastructures to address the problem, rather than relying on an approach of issuing too-little-too-late responses to eruptions on campus.

It appears to me that, since the outburst described in the article, the administration has taken a stronger lead in creating, supporting, and fostering discussion of diversity on campus. This page contains a short history of appointed positions and offices of diversity, beginning with the actions taken by President McPherson in 1988 and continuing through the formation of the Diversity Leadership Group and the Diversity Council and the 2004 founding of the Office of Intercultural Affairs (recently re-branded as the Pensby Center).

2013 Pensby Interns Lauren Footman and Alexis De La Rosa with Pensby Center Director Vanessa Christmas

Pensby Interns Lauren Footman and Alexis De La Rosa with Vanessa Christman

Despite the loss of Perry House, the school has also designated more physical and digital space to the topic. The Multicultural Center (now also referred to as the Pensby Center) was constructed in 2001 but didn’t come into greater use in the community until 2003-4,5 when it was the site of regular conversations around diversity led by faculty members Anne Dalke and Paul Grobstein, from which an archive and forum still exist on the web space Serendip (the series continues today at the Pensby Center; attend the next one this Thursday, February 27th, at 12 noon.) Since a main concern of the students in 1988 was that support for cross-cultural learning and awareness was too often initiated by the student body, it is significant that these conversations were convened and led by faculty members, involved participants from all sectors of the community, and took place in an institutionally endorsed space.

MicroaggressionsComposite

DIVERSITY AT THE COLLEGE TODAY. Though I am admittedly missing some historical knowledge about diversity at the college between the 1950s and late 80s, the 1988 episode strikes me as a turning point to which we can trace many institutional structures and cultural values that endure today. From the creation of President McPherson’s Affirmitive Action Advisory Board we can draw a line through the Diversity Leadership Group and the Diversity Council to the founding of the Office of Intercultural Affairs. Pensby currently fosters both regular conversations and opportunities for deeper engagement with the issues through programs like the Pensby Internships.6 Students also continue to play an active role in stirring conversation, raising awareness, and calling Bryn Mawr to hold itself accountable. One example of a grassroots student-led project that is open to the whole community is Leverage: The Zine (find it on Facebook, Tumblr), which documents microaggressions on campus. And, yes, the microaggressions still happen–though we may have moved forward since 1988 in many ways, prejudice and problematic language continue to exist in our community. And students are still angry. I sent the statement above from the 1988 petition (“the administration may have fooled itself into thinking that it is actively opposed to racist and classist prejudices, it certainly has not fooled us”) to Pensby Intern and recently elected Vice-President of SGA Alexis De La Rosa, asking whether she felt that the bitterness of those words still accurately represents students’ attitude towards the administration and its attempts to foster diversity at Bryn Mawr. She responded:

AlexisLauren-300x207_000I do think that there are students on Bryn Mawr’s campus that felt/feel that way. It is not easy being a student of color at Bryn Mawr when you feel like you are not represented within SGA, the faculty of the college, and even administration. I think that feelings of resentment built up for many students that rose to the surface last year, and although students rallied together around the issue of Perry House, emotions ran very high. The biggest complaint I heard from students last year was that they felt silenced; their thoughts and opinions were not being heard. I do however think that there was a major (positive) shift the moment President Cassidy and Interim Provost Osirim took over. President Cassidy immediately addressed student concerns and apologized for the college’s past mistakes, which had not been done before in a way that seemed sincere to students of color.

REFLECTIONS ON PROGRESS, AND BUILDING THE ARCHIVE OF CHANGE. To review documents like these and see so many instances of crises and outbursts over the same issues can feel like a community failing. I return to my original question: does it mean that we aren’t learning from our past mistakes, that history is repeating itself? My personal answer is no, for several reasons:

  • First, my review of the history suggests that we have made significant progress. While some of the comments and complaints can feel chillingly familiar to the 2014 reader of an article written as early as 1988, I believe that the Bryn Mawr administration now does a much better job of weaving diversity education into the fabric of the student experience. It is now recognized as an institutional priority rather than an inconvenient issue to be neglected until the pot boils over.
  • Second, the country and the world are changing at their own pace. We live within permeable walls here, and we cannot expect to be impervious to influence from problems in the greater culture. This effect is magnified by the fact that the majority of our community members are only present for four years at a time, and a new group of students must begin their social education every year from scratch. Racism and classism will remain present at Bryn Mawr as long as it exists beyond, and while we cannot untether ourselves from the slow pace of global change, we can hope to lead it.
  • Third, the nature of historical research is that sometimes only the big eruptions make it into the record, and many day-to-day realities slip past undocumented. If the pattern of growth were a smooth line of progression rather than one punctuated by episodes of conflict, we might have a less rich repository to draw on today while tracing these histories. Perhaps, therefore, it is a productive model of change rather than a failing to see so many crises written about in the College News and the Alumnae Bulletin: the conversations that are big enough to happen in public are the ones that form the narrative we look back on in the future.
A page from the Pensby Interns' digital exhibit, a timeline of diversity at Bryn Mawr College

A page from the Pensby Interns’ digital exhibit, a timeline of diversity at Bryn Mawr College

Building upon the third point, there is another effect that makes me think that episodes of rage and fierce debate have a productive function for our self-awareness and learning. Though I cannot speak for those who were here in 1988, I can say that the pivotal events in 2007 and in 2013 inspired students to both look back to the historical record and to deliberately create new material for the archives so that present lessons could be preserved for future eyes. In 2007, two students reacted to the events by “gathering stories of discrimination from current students and pertinent stories from The Bi-Co News and Bryn Mawr College archives in order to aid Bryn Mawr’s institutional memory,”7 and a play by People IN Color in 2008 used materials from Special Collections to generate a more reflective account of the SGA rupture and create new dialogue around the incident. Today, the ongoing work of the Pensby Interns draws on historical information held in the college collections while simultaneously generating new accounts of Mawrtyr experiences of diversity in the form of an oral history project, a survey to alumnae, and a digital exhibit consolidating their findings which will be published imminently on our website.

While these contributions to the archive of institutional memory may not prevent conflict from returning, they do mean that future Mawrtyrs will be able to read each moment of learning as part of a larger story of growth. It is our responsibility to learn from our own history and document the struggles of our present so that the importance of diversity can be an essential part of every Mawrtyr’s Bryn Mawr education.

 

Do you have historical knowledge or personal information about diversity on campus in the last twenty-five years (or beyond)? We would love to have your contributions. Share your experiences in the comments below, or contact us directly by tweeting @GreenfieldHWE or by emailing greenfieldhwe@brynmawr.edu.

Footnotes

1 Tracing the story back to the College News, that particular week also featured articles sexism and anti-racism at Haverford: see articles “Haverford Women Fight Against Community Sexism” and “March Responds to Racism“. Evidently, racism and classism were felt pervasively by certain students at the bi-co and the topics were being regularly addressed in public.

2 Concerns about the financial neglect of Perry House are also raised in the 1988 article.

3 Measuring against the spring yields a conservative estimate of improvement: fall 1988 featured only 21 courses offered, which compared to the course guide of spring 2014 would stretch the increase to over 70%.

4 Paraphrase of a statement by Joyce Miller, Director of Minority Affairs, excerpted from the 1988 Alumnae Bulletin.

5 History according to Vanessa Christman, Assistant Dean and Director of Leadership and Community Development.

6 We have been collaborating since this past summer with Pensby Interns Alexis De La Rosa and Lauren Footman and will be presenting some of their work later in the week. Watch this space!

7 I have not heard what the status of this project is and whether the collection survives in any accessible form; I have reached out to one of the students to find out and will update this space if I get more information.

The Greenfield Digital Center Announces New Director

Featured

Long-time followers of the Digital Center will recall that after her two years of outstanding leadership, our former Director, Jennifer Redmond, elected to depart last fall in order to pursue a position in the Department of History at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. After a carefully considered search, we are eager to announce that we have found our next Director and we are excited to welcome her this coming summer!

MonicaTalkCrop

Monica Mercado at the ASA Digital
Humanities Caucus, November 2013

Monica Mercado will complete her Ph.D. in U.S. Women’s History at the University of Chicago this spring. With a background in women’s history, museum studies, and archives, Monica is already deeply engaged with many of the subjects that are germane to the work of the Digital Center. Her previous topics of focus have included, among others, religious history, feminist and queer history, the history of the book, and women’s educational history and practices. (For examples of Monica’s recent work, see the links at the bottom of this post.) Her work has often interrogated the extent to which marginalized voices are either preserved or silenced both in their contemporary environments and in the historical record, a topic that increasingly informs the work that we are doing here at the Digital Center and which we intend to pursue further.

We first became acquainted with Monica through our inaugural conference last spring, Women’s History in the Digital World, at which we convened nearly one hundred scholars, students, independent researchers, archivist, librarians, technologists and others who were engaged with digital work in the fields of women’s and gender studies. She has remained one of a vibrant group of conference attendees who have continued to converse, through social media and other outlets, about the crucial presence of scholars in these disciplines in digital spaces. Monica agreed to share some words here:


mercadoOver the last year I have found the Digital Center to be an incredibly useful resource for my work with University archives in Chicago. Women’s History in the Digital World introduced me to new colleagues across the humanities, in academic departments, libraries, archives, and elsewhere, who are building exciting new projects in women’s and gender history using digital tools and contexts.

I am thrilled to join the Digital Center as its next Director, and to continue the work that makes Bryn Mawr an important place for taking seriously the future of women’s history. I look forward to organizing programs building on the Digital Center’s inaugural conference, reaching out to both existing audiences — from whom I have learned so much — as well as to audiences new to digital history — students and more advanced scholars who can look to the Digital Center’s online portal as a resource for developing new projects, or figuring out social media in the age of the #twitterstorian. Some of my most rewarding experiences at the University of Chicago have resulted from creating opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved first-hand with archives and community history, and I hope to expand upon these opportunities online and in the classroom at Bryn Mawr, where I will design and teach courses for the Department of History. And as a Barnard alumna, I’m eager to pursue new research and collaborative ventures that further uncover the histories of women’s education in women’s institutions.

See the links below to learn more about Monica and her work. We look forward to welcoming her in July, 2014, and opening a new phase of exciting work for the Digital Center.

Monica’s blog: http://monicalmercado.com

“A Desire for History: Building Queer Archives at the University of Chicago” (2013)

University of Chicago LGBTQ History Project tumblr (2012-present)

Religion in American History blog (contributor, 2013-present)

On Equal Terms? The Stakes of Archiving Women’s and LGBT History in the Digital Age (presented at Women’s History in the Digital World at Bryn Mawr College, March 2013)

‘On Equal Terms’ – Educating Women at the University of Chicago (co-authored with Katherine Turk, 2009)

 

“Women’s Colleges: Necessary and Invaluable” – Essay Competition Winner Erica Rice Reflects on Women’s Education

Featured

“There is no greater inspirational force than that which comes from surrounding
oneself with individuals whom she admires.”

Erica Rice, Class of 2017

Erica Rice, Class of 2017

We are excited to announce the first of the two winners of the third annual essay competition of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education, sponsored by The Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Library. Our student winner, freshman Erica Rice, responded thoughtfully to the prompt “Women, education and the future… what do women’s colleges have to offer?” In her essay, she asserts that “equality means not only the freedom to be the same, but also very much the freedom to be different.” The benefits to be reaped from a women’s college education are not a uniform commodity, but are rather the extent to which the college culture and experience allow each individual to avidly pursue a  chosen path and excel in the areas in which she is most passionate. Congratulations, Erica!…

Women’s Colleges:
Necessary and Invaluable

The college experience can very easily become a paradox, as a college education should be what equips a young person to accomplish whatever they wish, yet during the time spent earning a diploma, a great deal of pruning other dreams and aspirations is necessary to earn the title of college graduate. The ability to focus and make decisions about one’s future is indeed important, but all too often in the college setting, in the process of becoming a college graduate, pieces of the individual dissolve. Colleges and universities have plenty to offer the future, but people have more. At women’s colleges, the student body is made up of individuals willing to identify as different and who believe that it is their individual aspirations combined with a college diploma that will be what changes their world. The college experience for these women will be a tool, not an identity; because their identity is something they are not willing to compromise.

In addition to bringing together an impressive and self-selecting group of individuals, the experience of women’s colleges is a precious commodity that will become no less important in the future. That women have come to assert themselves as intellectual assets on college campuses across the world is wonderfully exciting and an absolutely necessary aspect of global progress in every way. Leveling the gender discrepancy in education continues to be a process that demands the support of groups and individuals in every sector. However, it is vital to remember that equality means not only the freedom to be the same, but also very much the freedom to be different. This is where the experience of women’s colleges is so important. Women’s colleges provide that opportunity to both learn and live as part of a community aware of both its uniqueness as well as its absolute viability in an academic setting without ever asking the individual to sacrifice her identity as she knows it.

This corner of the educational landscape is incredibly valuable and that it be preserved is necessary. As a member of such a community, I can speak personally to the value of the institution of a women’s college. By making the decision to be a part of a community which is so deliberately unique, I have placed myself among the ranks of women who are united in our common goal of wanting to be agents of change and progress in our worlds. There is no greater inspirational force than that which comes from surrounding oneself with individuals whom she admires. At women’s colleges, peers serve as motivators because passion is contagious and I have experienced no shortage in a women’s college community.

Women who make the choice to attend all women’s colleges do not do so with the intention of being ignored. We plunge into our identities as we see them with confidence and live in our community with purpose. At women’s colleges, the product is not simply a college graduate. Rather, women’s colleges produce something far more influential: educated women who have reached their respective goals in their own ways. Women of this kind are what shape the world and that they have every resource to cultivate their aspirations is crucial. The accomplishments of graduates of women’s colleges are too many to count, as will be the contributions of future women in these institutions. Some things, however, are certain: these institutions offer something to their students that is unique and precious, and the world waits with bated breath for what the individuals who make these colleges what they are will offer next.

Do you have thoughts about the place of the women’s college in the twenty-first century educational landscape? Have there been aspects of your experience that have shaped your understanding of education for women in the world today? Respond in the comments, or tweet us @GreenfieldHWE!

Job Announcement: Director of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education

Featured

AMG Digital Center logo_Page_1Job Search:

Director, The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center

 for the History of Women’s Education

 

The Bryn Mawr College Library is seeking a dynamic scholar to lead the development of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education, an online portal to support original research, teaching, and the exchange of ideas about the history of women’s education, both in the United States and worldwide.  The Center’s website (http://greenfield.brynmawr.edu/) has been live since September 2012, and includes online exhibitions on the history of women’s education, instructional materials to facilitate teaching about the history of women’s education, and a resources and news section to connect scholars working in the field.  The Director will be responsible for further developing, editing, and curating the content of the site, for building connections with other scholars and institutions working in women’s education, for organizing and hosting events connected with the Center, and for working with a project advisory board made up of prominent scholars in the field.  The Center currently has two outstanding grant applications that, if successful, will be the responsibility of the Director to administer. The first is a planning project for the development of a portal for searching the digital collections maintained by the Seven Sisters Colleges, and the second is a project to build connections and digital collections in cooperation with women’s colleges in other countries.  Planning future projects and grant proposal writing will be an important parts of the Director’s role.   The Director is part of the Special Collections Department within the library, and will have an opportunity to be formally connected with an academic department.  The Director will also participate in the growing digital humanities program being cooperatively developed by Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges.  The position begins during the fall of 2013, and is funded for two years.  The successful candidate will be encouraged to take part in the Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Academic Libraries.

The Director must have a PhD in the humanities or social sciences, preferably within the field of women’s history, the history of education or a cognate field.  The ideal candidate will have excellent written, oral and presentation skills, experience with grant writing, a track record of research in the field of women’s and/or educational history, and experience on a digital humanities project. Experience in the field of digital humanities will be a significant advantage, particularly experience with Omeka, the platform used to create the Center’s site, and with WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter and other social media tools.

Environment: The Bryn Mawr College Library http://www.brynmawr.edu/library/ is at once a strong undergraduate college library and a research library in a number of fields in the humanities and the sciences. The Library is a part of Bryn Mawr’s Information Services, a department that was organized in 2001 to bring together the library, computing, and instructional technology operations. The library works closely with the libraries of Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges through the Tri-College Consortium, one of the most influential academic library consortia in the country.

Bryn Mawr College is a private liberal arts institution located approximately 11 miles west of Philadelphia, PA, and it serves a population of 1,800 students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The College has a long tradition of educational excellence, offering a dynamic and challenging work environment with many opportunities for professional growth.  Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges operate within an atmosphere of tri-college cooperation and collaboration.

Review of applications will begin October 7th.

To apply: send letter of interest, CV and three professional references to

jobs@brynmawr.edu

 

A new beginning for the Center…

Featured

This blog post brings news that is both sad and exciting for me… after a very productive, educational and inspirational time as Director of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education, I will be moving on as of September 25th 2013. I will be taking up a new faculty post at the National University of Ireland Maynooth in the history department. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bryn Mawr and have learned a lot, getting to immerse myself in the world of digital humanities while pursuing my love of women’s history – bliss! I will be able to continue my work blending digital humanities with pedagogy in my new role and look forward to integrating much of what I’ve learned here.

I especially enjoyed connecting with so many wonderful colleagues on Twitter, some of whom I was lucky to meet in person at the Women’s History in the Digital World conference last March (for a report on the conference click here).  The digital repository that resulted from the conference continues to remain popular: it now holds 42 records, which have been downloaded a total of 482 times to date. I do get to remain connected to the Center, however, as I will be joining the Advisory Board. In this capacity I hope to help advise the new Director and to assist in moving the Center on to its next phase of development.  The Center has been my focus over the last two years and I am delighted to be able to remain a part of its future. The Center’s growth has been tremendous – we now have 1252 items on the site, and since its launch in September 2012, the website has been viewed by over 41,000 people. The blog, Educating Women, has had over 25,000 page views and continues to attract new followers – be sure to keep up to date with news from the Center by visiting the blog regularly.

This news means that the role of Director is open and ready to be filled by someone willing to take on the exciting challenges of running a digital center. If you are interested in progressing the work of the Center, or you know someone who would be ideal for the role, be sure to share the job description and encourage them to apply. You can find all details related to the application procedure here in this document and we have announced it on Twitter and some of the major academic listservs – please feel free to share it on your own networks.

SmithHildaWorthington

Hilda Worthington Smith, Director of the Summer School for Women Workers

SummerSchool15 (2)

Students and teachers at the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers

As part of my work since returning from maternity leave I have completed two new research based exhibits for our site which are being finessed in their formatting but will appear in the next few days. These had been on my to-do list for quite a few months and I am delighted to have completed them at last! The first, looking at the Summer School for Women Workers that began at Bryn Mawr College, looks at the history of this labor education initiative that was subsequently replicated by Barnard College among others. The Summer School was an idea conceived by M. Carey Thomas at the end of her tenure as president of Bryn Mawr College. As the exhibit reveals, she was inspired with the idea of utilizing the prestigious college campus for education programs for factory workers after hearing of the news that Britain had passed suffrage legislation. Thomas’ sense of feminism led her to ponder how women who had achieved social and political change (such as suffrage) could assist their sisters. The Summer School was directed by Hilda Worthington Smith, a Bryn Mawr alum and social work pioneer. The school was the subject of a documentary, The Women of Summer by Rita Heller (available for viewing if you have access to the VAST Academic Video Online database) and was also featured in the Taking Her Place exhibit as an example of the history of Bryn Mawr in opening the campus up to non-traditional groups or students who were not conceived of in Joseph Taylor’s original plan for the college.

No_So_Ladylike_Afterall

M. Carey Thomas

The second exhibit is on M. Carey Thomas herself. I talked about this research as it was in progress at the Women’s History in the Digital World conference and the Mediating Public Spheres: Feminist Genealogies of Knowledge conference and produced this reflective piece on her and on using the Omeka exhibit format. I was interested to study Thomas from multiple angles in an attempt to reveal different truths about her, positing that there is no single ‘Truth’ to be known about her (or anyone). For this exhibit I used her own words from different periods of her life, the words of her close friends, professional associates and colleagues all of which offer different insights into her personality. I have also featured her published writings on topics in women’s education, many of which appeared as a result of public speeches she gave and illustrate her profile during her lifetime as one of the foremost advocates of women’s access to education and the professions. You can access the exhibit by clicking here on the Center’s exhibit collection (it will be live in a few days).

A final reflection on the current state of women’s history in the US wraps up this post. Having spent much time over the last few months processing membership applications to the Coordinating Council for Women in History, I was struck by the breadth of interests that members have. On the application form members are asked to fill out three key words that represent their historical research interests, and this Wordle represents the responses members have given:CroppedHistoryWordle

Just for fun, I also used Tagxedo to represent these key words as a map of the United States:

CCWH

A review of these terms affirms my own view that women’s history is a vibrant and eclectic space, and is a strong counterpoint to those who seek to pigeonhole historians who focus on women of the past. The Center has had a wide breadth of interests since its inception, and in the future it will continue to promote diversity in the narratives it highlights in women’s education in the past. As the Center enters its new phase of growth I hope all of you will continue to support its mission to get women’s history, particularly narratives that focus on education, noticed in the exciting sphere of digital humanities.

Thank you to all of you who have interacted with me in my work at the Center, its growth is also due to your interest and promotion.

Guest Post: A Room With a View

Featured

ChristineInArches

Christine de Pizan

In this guest post, Elena Johnson ’16 reflects on architecture, female scholars, and intellectual inspiration. In the Balch seminar, ‘Bookmarks‘, Professor Katherine Rowe asks her students to consider the tools and conditions that shape the way we think and write. Drawing inspiration from a syllabus that included Virginia Woolf and Christine de Pizan, among others, Elena began to theorize the role of the constructed academic environment in which she found herself during her first year here at Bryn Mawr. This essay is her reflection on windows–both as a source of inspiration and illumination, and as a representation of the spatial luxury to which not all female scholars have had access.

Elena collaborated with the Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education to pair her words with photographs from the Bryn Mawr College archives, which illustrate some of the themes that weave throughout the piece. In addition to appearing in this post, we will be releasing weekly clusters of images on our Tumblr page. Be sure to follow us so that you don’t miss any! And check out the first posting here.

Bryn Mawr rises from a foundation of scholarly pride and ambition. Rather than model its dorms and classrooms after other women’s colleges, it takes its inspiration from the brooding gothic edifices of Oxford and Cambridge. Stone worked like lace glitters with windows in a statement of almost overwhelming grandeur: this is not Virginia Woolf’s impoverished Fernham1. Its founders did not intend for it to serve as a home away from home, with all the “women’s work” that that then implied, but as a rigorous monument to academia.  If nothing else, it does its best to intimidate newcomers.

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

As a freshman at Bryn Mawr, I enrolled in the school’s writing seminar program.  Instead of reading about volcanoes or Greek mythology (my other two choices), I found myself in a class called ‘Bookmarks’, where we read Christine de Pizan and Virginia Woolf2. Both women published their work in times and places where female scholars were relatively rare and considered something of a joke at best. Both took on the challenge of defending women, but where Christine claimed the existence of an innate feminine virtue, Woolf declared that women had been deprived of the basic essentials requisite to great writing. It was while reading these, surrounded by echoes of Oxford and Cambridge, that I realized the subject for this essay: windows.

In her essay, A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf proposes that by possessing both a private room and the money to pay for a comfortable life, a writer gains independence: the ability to separate oneself from the bitterness and distraction of reality. But in isolating these prerequisites to genius, Woolf overlooks a third, equally vital resource. Windows provide the writer with light, a view, and a degree of isolation somewhere between mind-numbing loneliness and the constant interruptions of the wider world.

Thomas_Hall

Thomas Library

Traditionally, windows address a practical concern by providing would-be scholars with the light they need to work. At Bryn Mawr, they grace the high walls of Thomas Great Hall, once the reading room of Bryn Mawr’s library, with gothic splendor. In this photo, lamps sprout from every desk, yet the students pictured work mainly by the natural light that floods the room. Today, the Canaday, Collier and Carpenter libraries have replaced Thomas as popular study spots, but if anything these modern equivalents have expanded on its window-laced walls and the students who study in their sunlit carrels draw easy comparison to a much older variant on the same theme.

ChristineThreeQueens

Christine de Pizan

In illustrations of The Book of the City of Ladies, Christine appears illuminated by windows.  One artist includes skylights and a wide arced opening, which take advantage of the sunny day (see image at top of post), while another demonstrates the aid these windows lend with a handful of long golden rays cast over the writer and her desk, highlighting her work in the eyes of the viewer. Writing in a room of her own, with sufficient funds, with the light provided by her windows, Christine produced valuable volumes to help fill the sorry gap on Woolf’s shelf.

Windows offer metaphorical illumination in addition to the more practical sort. In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf describes the “branch of illumination” (Woolf 44) and the “lamp in the spine” (18) as the source of brilliance and innovation, while spending bright sunny afternoons at the imaginary Oxbridge as she searches for inspiration. However, the real world thwarts these sources: the Spartan meal at Fernham puts out the lamp, and outraged gentlemen cast shadows on her day at Oxbridge. Both the light and Woolf’s inspiration, linked in her mind and in her words, are disrupted by the realities of sexism. Only in the final scenes of her essay, as Woolf awakes to “the light . . . falling in dusty shafts through the uncurtained windows” (94), does the “branch of illumination” bear fruit, drawing her away from the looping and frustrated logic of a male-dominated world and allowing her to think, clearly and independently, in her own room, with her own money.

Student_studying

Studying in a window

Where light mingles physical necessity with a more esoteric need, the view through a window exists more basically as a source of inspiration. Woolf benefits from this phenomenon throughout her struggle to produce A Room of One’s Own. First, at Oxbridge, the sight of a tailless cat through the window inspires Woolf to ponder the missing elements in a society torn by post-war sexism. Then at Fernham, she and Mary Seton discuss the poverty of their sex while standing at a window overlooking the grandeur of Oxbridge. However, Woolf’s greatest revelation occurs at the window of her private rooms in London. Exhausted after struggling through the male-dominated shelves of the library without much success, Woolf finds her answers through her bedroom window, where the sight of a man and a woman climbing into a taxi together finally inspires the conclusion of her essay.

Just as a window lets light in, it keeps out a world of interruptions, creating a degree of separation that allows Woolf to enjoy the isolation of her room without sacrificing the benefits of a broader view. While walking over the fields of the fictionalized Oxbridge, Woolf suffers constant interruptions that repeatedly destroy her thought process. Only by imagining herself “contained in a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound [can] penetrate” (6) can Woolf resume thinking, albeit temporarily, glorying in her “freedom from any contact with the facts” (6). This early realization later contributes to Woolf’s high regard for privacy, but the mention of glass bears scrutinizing. While walling herself off from the facts of an oppressively sexist society gives her room to think, Woolf thinks about what she sees, inspired by the world around her. Though this paradox has no easy solution, windows appear as a possible compromise.

The degree of separation a window offers also gives refuge to the “androgynous mind” as Woolf calls it, referring to Coleridge. She posits that because of the recent polarization of the sexes, the works her contemporaries produce lack the same element of suggestion present in Coleridge, Shakespeare and Austen. Writers become too obsessed with defending or injuring one sex or the other, personifying masculinity or representing femininity. The window allows the writer’s mind to “separate itself from the people in the street” (96) and the emotional and cultural turbulence inherent there. A writer at a window need not write as a man or a woman about men or women, but as a person about people. Whether sitting by a Single_dorm_room_Bryn_Mawr_Collegewindow in a London apartment, or in a dorm in Bryn Mawr, or in a medieval study while dreaming of a City of Ladies, the presence of windows offers the same thing: a degree of isolation between you and yourself, a space to see society without getting caught up in its emotion, and an unparalleled opportunity for authenticity without interference.

A room of one’s own means a door with which to lock out the skeptics and critics, even the simple doubters who smile condescendingly at the writer’s hunger for self-expression. That five-hundred a year, now a much larger sum, means the writer need not depend upon a skeptical father, or a critical husband, or a doubtful boss for her livelihood. While privacy and independence help, the writer will also need a window. Not necessarily a very great window or a very beautiful one, but a gap in the wall through which light may enter in and her mind may wander out, free from scrutiny. A window, so that when she pauses, grasping at the next thought to put on paper, she may see beyond her room and her money and the waiting page.  Perhaps she will see nothing but the cold rain, tapping against the glass and forming clear rivulets that pool in the grass. Or, maybe, she will see two people, a young woman and a young man, get into a taxicab together and drive away.

 

Do you have a favorite window on campus? Do you prefer to work by natural light, or in a more secluded environment? Respond in the comments, or tweet your replies @GreenfieldHWE.

Editorial assistance by Evan McGonagill.


Footnotes

1. In her essay, Woolf juxtaposes the impoverished, fictionalized women’s college “Fernham” with the wealthier, equally fictionalized men’s college “Oxbridge” in an effort to highlight the disparity between the sexes, as well as the positive effect luxury has on innovative thought.

2. Because of the naming conventions of the era, scholars refer to Christine by her first name only. So for the sake of accuracy (and at the cost of comfort) I will do the same in this essay.

Early Entrance Exams, part 2: Bryn Mawr and the Ivy Leagues

Featured

UPenn HeaderIt’s the start of the new academic year, and the Greenfield Digital Center is looking forward to greeting returning students and giving a special welcome to those of you who are on campus for the first time. We know it took a lot to get here. Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to apply to college 120 years ago? Last year we published a series of early entrance examinations from the Seven Sisters, the schools (including Bryn Mawr College) that defined prestigious women’s education in the late nineteenth century. Though the institutions were all founded with slightly varying visions, they were set apart as a group from earlier models of women’s education by their mission to provide academically rigorous schooling that led to a degree. For the first time, women were being offered an academic experience that was comparable to that enjoyed by men.1

The difficulty of getting into a good college is a constant source of discussion in the twenty-first century, with admissions departments seeing incredibly high numbers of qualified applicants every year. Shouldn’t it have been easier to get into college 150 years ago, when there were fewer people applying? Not so, as we learned in the last post: even if there were only a handful of girls around the country whose parents were interested in making sure they had access to a college education, getting in was hardly a piece of cake. As our readers noticed, the entrance exams were hard—hard enough so that few of us could pass today, perhaps even after the four-year education that the exam would have qualified us to receive!

Last time we looked at how Bryn Mawr compared to the other Seven Sisters. But how would the test measure up against similar examples from the Ivy Leagues themselves? It is well documented that M. Carey Thomas, the first Dean and second President of Bryn Mawr College, aimed to make the education offered by Bryn Mawr equal in rigor to the standard American male education. Shaped by her vision, the College pursued this objective more deliberately than any of the other contemporary women’s colleges. While digging through the archives recently we came across a document describing the entrance examination for the University of Pennsylvania, as given in 1893, as well as a copy of the Harvard Examination for Women,2 also from 1893. Comparing these three documents gives us a window into how Bryn Mawr3 would have appeared alongside the schools it was designed to emulate.

The Harvard examinaBrynMawrHistoryHarvardExamHistorytion and the Bryn Mawr examination have similar sections in algebra (though Harvard’s has only one section, while Penn and Bryn Mawr both feature two) and geometry. All three have a heavy focus on classical studies, which were considered to be an essential area of study in history, philosophy, literature, and languages for all serious students in the nineteenth century. The first deviation that I noticed is that a scan of Harvard’s history essay questions and Bryn Mawr’s reveal a stylistic difference: while Harvard’s requires definitions of terms and summaries of events, Bryn Mawr’s essay questions tend to be more in-depth, as you can see from the pages shown above. (The Bryn Mawr exam shown to the left, Harvard on the right. Click for an enlarged view.) The subjects covered by the different exams (as far as we can tell from the documents we have access to) are as follows:

Bryn Mawr

  • Mathematics (Algebra, Plane Geometry, Solid Geometry, Trigonometry)
  • Latin (Grammar and Composition, Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, Sight Reading)
  • (though the Greek requirement is mentioned in the exam summary, that portion of the examination appears to be missing)
  • English History
  • American History
  • Grecian History
  • Roman History
  • English (Composition, Grammatical Correction)
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Botany
  • Physiology
  • Physical geography
University of Pennsylvania:

  • Mathematics (Arithmetic, Plane Geometry, and Algebra)
  • History of the United States
  • Ancient History
  • English (Grammar, Composition and Reading)
  • Greek (Prose Composition, Grammar, Homer, and Xenophon)
  • Latin (Prose Composition, Grammar, Virgil, and Cicero)
  • German
  • French

 

Harvard:

  • History of Greece and Rome
  • History of the United States and of England
  • Mathematics (Algebra, Plane Geometry)
  • -rest of the document is omitted

 

It is difficult to make direct comparisons between the Bryn Mawr examination and the other two, considering that there are portions missing from the Harvard examination, and we only have a summary and description of the University of Pennsylvania examination. The University of Pennsylvania also had different requirements based on the division of their General Course in Science from the Course in Arts, options for specialization that the other schools did not incorporate into their exams. However, given the variances, the Bryn Mawr exam appears to require a broader command of subject matter from each candidate. For example, Bryn Mawr considered language study to be of the utmost importance, and required all candidates to be tested in Latin and two languages from Greek, German, and French. If she was not examined in all four, the candidate would be required to study a fourth language as part of her college curriculum. The University of Pennsylvania requirements, however, were narrower: candidates for the Course in Arts were examined in Latin and Greek only; candidates for the General Course in Science could elect to be tested in two 1892_035_Botanylanguages from Latin, French, and German, and candidates for the course in engineering were only required to know one language, either German or French. By gearing the test towards specialization in either humanities or sciences, the University of Pennsylvania thus required a narrower range of material for each candidate depending on his future area of study. Even candidates not applying to a specialized course at Bryn Mawr were required to have broad knowledge of both humanities and sciences—it appears to be the only one of the three schools that included a full section on botany. Would you have passed the section on botany based on your high school education?

An in-depth look at all three examinations suggests that the Bryn Mawr examination was the most challenging, mostly because of the incredible range of the subject matter in which the candidate was expected to demonstrate competence. This was directly connected to M. Carey Thomas’s vision for the type of education the school was to provide: in a published address given in 1900, entitled “College Entrance Requirements”, Thomas firmly stated her belief that “certain studies should be taken by everyone if we have in view the creation of intellectual power.” And it was the powerful intellect, not just career preparedness, that she was interested in cultivating for her students. Another reason that she advocated breadth as well as depth of study, especially in the pre-college and early college years, was that she did not believe that intellectual proclivities would necessarily arise immediately—the student needed time to explore different options and develop her abilities. In a memorable passage from the address, she refutes a statement by President Charles Eliot of Harvard University, first quoting him in his claim that “by the seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth year almost every peculiar mental or physical gift which by training can be made of value is already revealed to its possessor and to any observant friend” and responding that “I believe it is very rare—and as a rule profoundly unfortunate—for a decided aptitude or bent to manifest itself before a boy or girl has been two or three years in college, and usually the consciousness of it comes much later than this.” Thomas considered a broad education to be essential for the intellectual development of her students, no matter what they specialized in. However, it is also easy to imagine that the examination was crafted to be challenging in order to prove her point that women were as capable academically as men, and that Bryn Mawr College would be the school to prove that women could be educated at a level on par or even better than that of the equivalent elite male schools.

There is one item on the examination that distinguishes Bryn Mawr from its Ivy League counterparts and provides a hint as to what kind of school the candidate was applying to. In the grammatical correction section, candidates were required to fix the wording of the following passage:
1892_028_CorrectionsLarge_1Could it have been selected at random, or was it perhaps a nod of acknowledgment between the examiner and the candidates, aligned by a common conviction?

Would you have passed the Bryn Mawr examination as given in 1893? Would you have preferred to take the more focused University of Pennsylvania exam, or the Harvard Examination for Women? Do you think interdisciplinary study and late specialization is an important component of the college experience? Let us know in the comments section!

To view the examinations in full, click on the following links:

 

Footnotes

1 Furthermore, institutions like Bryn Mawr were offering access to graduate level education to women in the US, opening up the possibility of graduate study for American women without traveling to Europe for doctoral work as M. Carey Thomas had done.

2 The Harvard Examination for Women was a special case, as it was the only one that did not lead to admittance to the university issuing the test. At the time that Harvard began to give the examination, it did not admit women: the test was a way for young women to seek a certificate of academic achievement—a mark of accomplishment, rather than a ticket to the next phase of study. Though the University began offering classes to women through the Harvard Annex in 1879, it did not grant degrees to female scholars until the opening of Radcliffe College in 1894. Passage of the test was considered very prestigious, and the Bryn Mawr College entrance exam specifies that the Bryn Mawr entrance exam must be taken by all “except those who have passed in the corresponding divisions of the Harvard University Examination for Women, or who present a certificate for honorable dismissal from some college or university of acknowledged standing.”

3 We were unable to locate a Bryn Mawr College entrance examination from 1893, and will therefore be using an 1892 test for comparison.

Taking Her Place: Final Day and Digital Exhibit

Featured

We’re excited to invite Bryn Mawr’s campus and delegates to the Women in Public Service Project to view Taking Her Place today on its final day in the Rare Book Room gallery before we dismantle the exhibition.
GenderAndIntellect_THPExhibitTaking Her Place has been open since January 28th, and in that time we’ve had some great feedback from alums, students, faculty, and members of the public. Among the visitors we were able to extend special welcomes to over the course of the semester were attendees of the Women’s History in the Digital World conference, guests of Bryn Mawr College Alumnae/i Reunion weekend, and the Women in Public Service Institute. We especially loved hearing stories from the alumnae who came to the exhibition, some of whom shared recollections of people and events that are featured in Taking Her Place. We spoke with President Emeritus Pat McPherson about her memories of Margaret Bailey Speer, a graduate of the class of 1922 who went on to lead a Yenching Women’s College in China until the second World War forced her return to the States. (She subsequently returned to the area as headmistress of the Shipley School just across the street from the College, and maintained a relationship with this institution for the rest of her life.) We learned many new things about the school’s history from our enthusiastic attendees.

For those who would like to revisit the exhibition, or who never had a chance to view it in person, we’re delighted to announce that an online version is now posted on our website!GenderAndIntellect2_THPExhibit

The digital exhibit follows the same narrative as the exhibition and includes all of the items that were displayed in the Rare Book Room gallery. However, the new online accommodates more text, which allowed us to give more information about the items. It also meant we were able to include some items that didn’t make it into the physical exhibition: enjoy

Courtesy Tucker Design

Courtesy Tucker Design

browsing layout designs from before the show was constructed, links to additional oral history interviews, and images that we did not have space for in the gallery. We think it makes for an equally good, if not even better, viewing experience.

The exhibition can be viewed here and it will remain on our site indefinitely. Thank you to all who were able to view Taking Her Place, and we hope that those of you who didn’t have the chance to see it in person will enjoy it as a digital resource!

As always, the co-curators from The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education are happy to take questions, either about the process of envisioning and executing the exhibition or on the history of the college and women’s rise into the public sphere through education. If you’re curious to learn more about the history of women’s education and of Bryn Mawr College, take a look at some of the other exhibits and items from the collection that we feature on our site and keep an eye on this blog. Please write to GreenfieldHWE@brynmawr.edu, or follow us on Twitter @GreenfieldHWE to learn more about what we have planned next.

CFP: Popular Cultural Association/American Culture Association – Education, Teaching, History & Popular Culture

Popular Cultural Association/American Culture Association

Education, Teaching, History & Popular Culture

Call for Papers

The Area of Education, Teaching, History and Popular Culture is now accepting submissions for the PCA/ACA National Conference, New Orleans, LA, held April 1-4, 2015 at the New Orleans Marriott (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/msyla-new-orleans-marriott). For detailed information please see http://pcaaca.org/national-conference/.

Educators, librarians, archivists, scholars, independent researchers and students at all levels are encouraged to apply.  Submissions that explore, connect, contrast, or otherwise address area themes of schooling, educa tion, teaching (including preparing teachers/preservice teacher education), history, archival studies, and/or their linkages to popular culture from all periods are desired.   Sample topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Reflections/linkages between schooling and popular culture in the United States and internationally/multinationally;
  • The role of history in education, teaching, or preservice teacher education in the United States;
  • The use(s) of popular culture in education, teaching, or preservice teacher education in the United States;
  • How education has impacted pop culture/how popular culture has impacted education in the United States;
  • Representations of teaching and/or schooling in popular culture throughout history in the United States;
  • Using popular culture to subvert/supplement prescriptive curricula in schooling;
  • The impact/emergence of LGBTQ studies in schooling and education;
  • Queering any o f the area fields (education, schooling, history, archival studies, teaching, preservice teacher education, popular culture);
  • Developing means to re-integrate foundations of education into preservice teacher education;
  • Tapping into (or resisting) popular technology to improve instruction;
  • Exploring the intersections of social media, social identity, and education.

Deadline for proposals is November 1, 2014. To be considered, interested individuals should please prepare an abstract of between 100-250 words.  Individuals must submit electronically by visiting http://pcaaca.org/national-conference-2/proposing-a-presentation-at-the-conference/ and following the directions therein.

Graduate students are STRONGLY encouraged to submit their completed papers for consideration for conference award.  Graduate stud ents, early career faculty and those travelling internationally in need of financial assistance are encouraged to apply: http://pcaaca.org/grant/overview.php.

Decisions will be communicated within approximately two weeks of deadline.  All presenters must be members of the American Culture Association or the Popular Culture Association by the time of the conference.  Any further inquiries can be directed to Dr. Edward Janak at ejanak@uwyo.edu.

Women’s History Matters Essay Competition

In honor of the centennial of woman suffrage in Montana, the Women’s History Matters Essay Prize Committee at the University of Montana, Montana State University and the Montana Historical Society are sponsoring a call for entries for the Women’s History Matters Essay Competition. We invite submissions that explore comparative studies of women in Montana and the West, Native American women’s histories, studies of women’s roles in social movements and institution building, biographical accounts of individual women, feminist historical analyses of forces shaping Montana and the West, and more contemporary accounts of women’s social and political action into the late twentieth century.

6,000 to 8,000 words (including footnotes), based in original research in primary resources, complete with footnotes, and prepared in accordance with Chicago Manual of Style. Manuscripts should be double-spaced, 12-point font, and submitted electronically (in .doc or .docx format).

Criteria for judging will include:

*Originality of topic or approach

*Quality and depth of research

*Contribution to western women’s history

*Coherence of argument

*Clarity of presentation

Cash awards will be given to the winning essays. Prize-winning essays will be considered for possible publication by the Montana Historical Society in a special issue of Montana The Magazine of Western History and a Montana Historical Society Press anthology dedicated to women’s history.

Electronic submission is required: https://mhspublications.submittable.com/submit

 

Reposted from H-NET http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=213700

Worlds of Learning: Education and the Book Trades, 1586-1945

Worlds of Learning: Education and the Book Trades 1586-1945
22-23 July 2014
St. Anne’s College, Oxford

The 32nd Print Networks conference will take education and the book trade as its theme. Speakers will ask questions such as: how did the book trade and education mutually profit from and shape each other? What was the book trade’s impact on the development of institutions of learning; the organization of knowledge; pedagogies and technologies of instruction; and on both formal and informal education, including self-help? All are welcome.

Conference Programme:

http://www.bookhistory.org.uk/print-networks/events

Conference booking:

http://www.oxforduniversitystores.co.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&deptid=110&…

Call For Papers: LEGACY special issue: “Recovering Alice Dunbar-Nelson for the 21st Century”

Special issue, “Recovering Alice Dunbar-Nelson for the 21st Century”

Guest Editors: Sandra Zagarell, Katherine Adams, Caroline Gebhard

Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers solicits papers for a special issue devoted to writing by Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Best known today as the author of regionalist short fiction set in her native New Orleans, Dunbar-Nelson was also an essayist, poet, playwright, newspaper columnist and editor, diarist, anthologist, educator, and activist engaged in the suffrage movement and African American political and social advancement.

Neither Dunbar-Nelson’s oeuvre nor her life fits comfortably into the ways of thinking that have traditionally shaped Americanist, African Americanist, and feminist criticism. For example, while some of her short stories openly engage racial inequity, much of the New Orleans fiction seems to hew to an aesthetic that prizes polish over politics. It takes considerable knowledge of the city’s racialized cultural geography and history to recognize how artfully Dunbar-Nelson’s fiction unsettles presumptions about racial and sexual distinctions, religion, ethnicity, nation, class, and gender. Dunbar-Nelson’s own practices of identification were enormously complicated. She was a prominent black activist and public intellectual; she felt that as a light-skinned African American she suffered from reverse colorism; she was herself sometimes derisive about dark-skinned blacks. Her sexuality was fluid: she had sexual-romantic relationships with women as well as men, and her most enduring relationships were with her third husband, Robert J. Nelson, and a woman educator, Edwina B. Kruse.

Despite Akasha Gloria Hull’s pioneering recovery work and the publication of three volumes by the Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers, Dunbar-Nelson’s writing still awaits the recognition it merits. This special issue sets out to revisit Dunbar-Nelson’s work in relation to recent and new areas of scholarly inquiry, including critical regionalisms; new southern studies; intersectional feminist criticism; black print culture and periodicals studies; the rethinking of periodization; and reconsiderations of relationships between genre and literary historiography, politics and aesthetics. Not only do such frameworks promise to bring Dunbar-Nelson’s writing and life more fully into view; the writing and the woman promise to help us complicate and advance these developing frameworks.

The guest editors invite submissions focused on any period or aspect of Dunbar-Nelson’s career, with a special interest in scholarship that looks beyond her New Orleans collections, Violets(1895) and The Goodness of St. Rocque (1899). Comparative analyses with contemporaneous writers are welcome.

Deadline: Completed papers must be submitted by 30 September 2014. Length limit: 10,000 words (including endnotes and list of works cited) using MLA format. Send electronic copies of papers to this special issue’s guest editors: Katherine Adams (adamsk@sc.edu), Sandra Zagarell (szagarel@oberlin.edu) and Caroline Gebhard (gebhard@mytu.tuskegee.edu). Questions may be directed to any of the three.

Call For Papers: Transnationalism, gender and teaching: perspectives from the history of education

Annual Conference of the History of Education Society (UK)
University College Dublin
21st-23rd November 2014CFP 2014

Keynote speakers
Professor Joyce Goodman MBE, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Winchester
Professor Elizabeth Smyth, Vice-Dean, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto
Professor Dáire Keogh, President, St Patrick’s College, & Cregan Professor of Modern Irish History, Dublin City University

Papers are invited that examine the conference theme: Transnationalism, gender and teaching: perspectives from the history of education. Papers may also be considered that provide historical perspectives on one of the conference thematic areas: transnationalism and teaching, OR gender and teaching. Papers may address the conference theme through consideration of some of the following, though this list is only suggestive, and not definitive:

International education networks & alliance
Travel, transnational mobility and global citizenship
Knowledge formation & travel writing | education and the Grand Tour
Education and diasporas | missionary education
Travel scholarships, boarding and finishing schools, school tours
Education & experiential travel | teachers as ambassadors
Networks of schools and teachers | voluntarism, voluntary action and education
Life histories| history in the margins | masculinities and femininities
Heritage education and global knowledge| cross-cultural studies and the history of education
Nationality, language and schooling | transnational femininities | space and place
Academic leadership, public intellectuals and international education
Gender and university teaching | gender-differentiated curricula and schooling
Materialities of teaching | visual histories | education archives
Reading, libraries and transnational culture | books, publishing and the transfer of ideas
Teacher education and gender | teacher unions and professional societies

Abstracts (500 words max) should be sent to deirdre.raftery@ucd.ie
Deadline: Friday 12th September 2014

Conference host: School of Education, University College Dublin, Ireland
Conference venue: Bewley’s Hotel / Thomas Prior Hall, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland