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

Women’s History Month: New display!

SingleGirl_Cover

Cover: Brown, Walter C. The single girl; a medical doctor’s intimate report on the problems of the unmarried female in our contemporary society.  Derby: Monarch Books. 1961. HQ800.2 .B76 1961 

As women’s history month comes to a close, we’ve changed our display case to feature more of the amazing women whose legacies fill our collections. The display will be extended through April 7 because of the University of Maryland’s Spring Break last week. Come back after that for a display in honor of Maryland Day, held on April 27, 2013.

Defining “Normal”

March 24 – April 07, 2013

Dr. Brown, author of The Single Girl, claims that the abnormal woman must “re-channel her existence via adjustment, sublimation, or a return to the normal, in order to find real happiness.”

How do women define normal? Clearly, not all of us have identical goals, lifestyles, and beliefs. This month, we celebrate the complex diversity of women and each individual’s right to find her personal definition of “real happiness.”

From the back cover of The Single Girl by Dr. Walter C. Brown:

 Who is the single girl? How does she live? How did she get that way?

Here is a book which examines her problems—lesbianism, bisexualism, alcoholism, frigidity, nymphomania, narcissism, sadomasochism, or asexualism—and seeks to gain some measure of understanding of the various  types of girls who get trapped by so-called single blessedness.

Through illuminating case histories culled from his private files, Dr. Brown probes into the lives of unmarried women and explains why—having chosen or been forced into an abnormal live—the single girl must re-channel her existence via adjustment, sublimation or a return to the normal, in order to find real happiness.