Museums and the Politics of Women’s History

The Politics of Women's History in Collections 14.3 (Summer 2018).It’s June 4th, 2019 — 100 years to the day that Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I woke to find the #19that100 hashtag firing up on Twitter, with historians and GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) highlighting the anniversary and histories of voting rights in the context of the suffrage movement. Of course, it took more than a year for the Amendment’s ratification, so look out for much more suffrage history to come in 2020. Continue reading “Museums and the Politics of Women’s History”

Writing Women’s Lives

In January, my public history class welcomed to campus Janice Nimura, author of Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back (2015, now in paperback!) — the rare mass-market biography that takes seriously, and as its subject, the lived experience of young women.

As Nimura writes this month at Lithub:

I always like the moment in my talks when I show a photo of the Vassar class of 1882, a gaggle of young bluestockings with one Japanese face in the middle: Sutematsu Yamakawa, the eldest of my three subjects, elected class president in her sophomore year! There’s always a gratifying murmur from the audience as I drive the point home: that’s how talented she was, how intellectually dazzling, how extraordinary in transcending her otherness.

But one afternoon my audience was a room full of Bryn Mawr students, and one of them raised her hand. Wasn’t it possible, she asked, that Sutematsu’s classmates had elevated her because of her differences, rather than in spite of them? Didn’t they think of her as a sort of samurai princess, and wouldn’t they have found it gratifying to show her off?

#HIST303, always with the good questions. (I’m going to miss this class.)

Catching up with the #Historiannchallenge

Sunday morning conversations.
Sunday morning conversations.

Over fall break I had a chance to catch up with my blog reading and found Historiann’s responses to James McPherson’s interview in the October 5 Sunday Book Review (or, what my graduate school BFF called  #whitemanhistorians).

Historiann came up with a better hashtag, and the makings of a project: the #Historiannchallenge. In “Historiann: The New York Times Book Review Interview,” Ann invited wider participation, and a recent follow up proves lots of us were happy to oblige.

The hashtag is still going strong, and now I’m inspired to power through my growing book piles. Here’s my interview, where I surprise myself with just how Catholic it is, and surprise no one with how many women are represented.

Continue reading “Catching up with the #Historiannchallenge”