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Women’s History Month: Defining “Normal” Pt.II

Just in case you can’t visit the display in Hornbake Library, Defining “Normal,” here are some of the items we’re featuring to celebrate Women’s History Month!

“Single Blessedness”

Does marriage define a normal woman? Clara Barton never married, but she accomplished great things that have inspired both men and women alike. At the same time, women who look forward to marriage and raising families may face scorn and discrimination, both from the workplace, society, and other feminists.

Clara Barton, 2nd from the left, at Clara Barton House in Cabin John, Maryland. From the Clara Barton Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Clara Barton, 2nd from the left, at Clara Barton House in Cabin John, Maryland. From the Clara Barton Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Clara Barton

Do you think Clara Barton, the American Red Cross founder known as the “Angel of the Battlefield,” is “trapped by so-called single blessedness?” (Single Girl, Dr. Brown).

  • Barton established the first free public school in Bordentown, New Jersey
  • She served as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office, one of the first regularly appointed female civil servants
  • Until Clara Barton, women were not allowed in hospitals or on battlefields; she provided aid and supplies on 16 battlefields

Associated Women Students

The self-governing body of women students called the Associated Women Students formed between 1953 and 1954. The purpose of the association was to

 “establish and enforce standards of conduct for women students; sponsor cultural and social activities; coordinate women’s activities on campus; and promote the development of leadership, good scholarship, and self-responsibility among the co-eds.”

A 1961 Bridal Fair sponsored by the Associated Women Students, documented in the scrapbooks, includes a list of fashions for the bride marrying a professional man (click for PDF of the Bridal Fashion Show). For example,

SO YOU’RE GOING TO MARRY AN ENGINEER! (…..wear yella for that fella!)

Would this be “normal” for a woman now? What judgments and stereotypes might the Associated Women Students have to face today?

The 1961 Scrapbook of the Associated Women Students, featuring pages about their Bridal Fair on April 18th.

The 1961 Scrapbook of the Associated Women Students, featuring pages about their Bridal Fair on April 18th. http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1679

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About hornbakelibrary

Special Collections and University Archives, located in Hornbake Library North at the University of Maryland, serves as a gateway to many valuable resources, including state of Maryland and historical collections, university archives, literature and rare books, mass media and culture collections, and labor history collections. For information, call us at 301-405-9212 or visit http://www.lib.umd.edu/special/home.

One comment on “Women’s History Month: Defining “Normal” Pt.II

  1. Reblogged this on S.A.Espinosa.

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