Spotlight on Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and acclaimed poet born in Baltimore in 1825. Born to free parents and orphaned at three, Watkins was raised by her maternal uncle Rev. William Watkins, an abolitionist and civil rights activist, and his wife Henrietta. She was educated at her uncle’s school, the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth. While she was still very young, Harper worked as a nursemaid and seamstress for a white family that owned a bookshop. There, she discovered her love for books and filled her free time with reading. 

From there, Watkins grew up to become the first African American woman to publish a short story, and she published her first book of poetry, Forest Leaves, at age 20. Harper went on to publish another book of poetry, many short stories, and several novels, including her most popular work Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted. Watkins’ writing often addressed issues of race, gender, and their intersections. 

The poem below, “Slave Mother,” highlights the painful relationship between motherhood and Blackness that Harper observed during her lifetime. 

Heard you that shriek? It rose

   So wildly on the air,

It seem’d as if a burden’d heart

   Was breaking in despair.

Saw you those hands so sadly clasped—

   The bowed and feeble head—

The shuddering of that fragile form—

   That look of grief and dread?

Saw you the sad, imploring eye?

   Its every glance was pain,

As if a storm of agony

   Were sweeping through the brain.

She is a mother pale with fear,

   Her boy clings to her side,

And in her kyrtle vainly tries

   His trembling form to hide.

He is not hers, although she bore

   For him a mother’s pains;

He is not hers, although her blood

   Is coursing through his veins!

He is not hers, for cruel hands

   May rudely tear apart

The only wreath of household love

   That binds her breaking heart.

His love has been a joyous light

   That o’er her pathway smiled,

A fountain gushing ever new,

   Amid life’s desert wild.

His lightest word has been a tone

   Of music round her heart,

Their lives a streamlet blent in one—

   Oh, Father! must they part?

They tear him from her circling arms,

   Her last and fond embrace.

Oh! never more may her sad eyes

   Gaze on his mournful face.

No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks

   Disturb the listening air:

She is a mother, and her heart

   Is breaking in despair.

In her discussions of intersectionality, Watkins alienated many white suffragists. She criticized the racism and selfishness of their refusal to support the 15th Amendment. In response, she helped found the American Woman Suffrage Association, which actively supported the 15th Amendment. She was also active in the “Colored Section” of Philadelphia’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. 

Later, Watkins helped organize the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). The NACW focused on both black and women’s issues such as women’s suffrage, lynching, and Jim Crow laws, and became the most prominent organization of the African American Women’s Suffrage Movement. 


Post by Rigby Philips
History, specializing in women’s history and the history of sexuality
(2021)

New Exhibition Online: Get Out the Vote

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a new virtual exhibition, Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America.

Inspired by our collections of grassroots organizations, we used material from our collection to tell the story of voting rights in America, from the founding of this nation to our current electoral climate.

The ideal of universal suffrage, or “one person, one vote,” has compelled many to advocate for greater equity and inclusion in the electoral process. Over the years, voting rights have expanded and contracted for many marginalized communities. Election laws continue to evolve in America as citizens demand equitable representation in government and access to the ballot.

Despite the importance of suffrage in America, voting rights have not always been ensured for everyone. Barriers to voting have led many to advocate for a more representative electorate and to encourage greater participation in local, state, and national elections. Their efforts are crucial to ensure all ALL citizens have the opportunity to cast their ballot.

Visit the online exhibition, explore our collections, and contact us to learn more.

New Exhibit for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This blog post and its accompanying exhibit in the main lobby of McKeldin Library chronicle the ongoing student activism at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) to create a culture that actively works to prevent power-based violence and support survivors of sexual assault.

Though sexual assault was not part of the public discourse at UMD prior to the 1970s, examples from the 1950s and 1960s highlight how sexual assault and rape culture impacted student life. This Associated Women Students Revised Dress Code from 1968 highlights the way that women were seen as responsible for the treatment they received based on their personal appearance, and how accepted standards of behavior based on gender roles often reinforced and obscured rape culture. Strict limitations on women’s conduct and dress connect to an ideal of purity and serve to prevent women from having sexual contact before marriage. Women were often blamed for any unwanted contact if they did not abide by these codes. Ideas like these often reinforce the idea that rape is result of the behavior or appearance of the victim, rather than the actions of the perpetrator. It is also important to note that these stark distinctions between men and women can often erase the fact that a person of any gender can be sexually assaulted.

Report from the Association of Women Students
Association of Women Students — Reports, 1954-1964. Division of Student Affairs records, 5.1.4. Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.
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Fembot Edit-A-thon

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Fembot, the University of Maryland Department of Women’s Studies, the University of Maryland Libraries, the LGBT Equity Center, and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, are hosting a two-day Wikipedia Edit-a-thon  to write women of color, trans, and/or non-conforming people and related organizations and ideas into Wikipedia.

fembotlogo

Please join Fembot and our partners for the 2018 Fembot Edit-a-thon! The Edit-A-thon will take place Friday and Saturday, March 9-10, from 10:30-4:00pm in McKeldin Library Rooms 6107 and 6103.  This Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon will contribute to the world of free and accessible knowledge, while at the same time working toward an anti-racist, gender inclusive history of everything within Wikipedia’s vast database.

More details about the event:

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The Equal Rights Amendment: Labor’s Fight for True Gender Equality

Today we are celebrating National Women’s Equality Day! Gender equality in the workplace is a social justice issue that the labor movement has always been involved in.  In the spirit of this holiday, we will be highlighting some of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) items that will be featured in the Labor History Collections’ exhibit, “For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America”!

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Two Exhibitions on Women’s Suffrage in the Maryland Room

In celebration of Women’s History Month, two new exhibitions are available for viewing in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library related to the history of women’s suffrage in the local area.

The Washington Home of the Philippine Suffrage Movement exhibit is presented in collaboration with Philippines on the Potomac (POPDC) and with the Rita M. Cacas Filipino Community Archives at the UMD Libraries.  The exhibit tells the stories of several extraordinary Philippine women who would go on to change Philippine history and rewrite the nation’s suffrage law. The exhibit features extensive research in local, national, and international libraries and research institutions.  In addition, original materials are on display relating to the Filipina suffragist, writer, teacher, and feminist Sofia de Veyra who lived in the United States between 1917 and 1925.

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Titchie Carandang-Tiongson and Ewrin Tiongson, the creators of the exhibit, also recently presented their research process and methodology to English Professor Jess Enoch’s undergraduate class ENGL379Z/WMST 498V Special Topics in Literature; Women and Memory in Material and Digital Worlds.  The students in the class viewed the exhibit, asked great questions after the presentation, and were able to see how this research process related to their own work at recovering women’s suffrage history in the class.

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Materials related to Filipino American history and culture in the UMD Libraies can be found in the Rita M. Cacas Community Archives is available for research consultation in the Maryland Room of Hornbake Library.  Numerous images in this community archives collection are also available for viewing in the UMD Libraries Digital Collections.  For those interested in pursuing additional research there is also a research guide on Philippine and Filipino American History and Culture available.

A second mini-exhibit on Women’s Suffrage in Maryland is also on display in the Maryland Room. This exhibit showcases materials from Special Collections related to the woman’s suffrage movement and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) during the twentieth century.  Items of interest include a letter signed by Edith Houghton Hooker, noted suffrage leader and editor of the Maryland Suffrage News; a letter from a member of the Maryland Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage; and a sash worn for a 1978 march in support of the ERA.  The materials featured come from a variety of special collections including the League of Women Voters of Maryland archives, the National Organization for Women Maryland Chapter archives, and the Marylandia collection.

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The Washington Home of the Philippine Suffrage Movement will be on display through April 29th, 2017.  (Exception: the exhibit will be traveling between April 7th and April 16th and unavailable for viewing at that time.)

The Women’s Suffrage in Maryland exhibit will be on display through the end of March.

Be sure to check the Maryland Room hours before planning your visit!

Questions? Contact Liz Novara, Curator, Historical Manuscripts, enovara@umd.edu

Special Collections Opens Their Doors

This semester we hosted an Open House for University staff and displayed some of the interesting material found within our collection.

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Three of these items came from our literary collection and included an early edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an inscribed copy of Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old, and a 1794 edition of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. These early editions provided insights into the times in which they were produced through their format, inscriptions or by the significance of their ownership. Much can be learned by looking at original copies of common works.

students_400If you would like to talk to us about using our collections for your own research or to support your instruction, please let us know. We often work with faculty and look forward to the opportunity to get to know you and your students.

Research queries to askhornbake@umd.edu
Instruction support queries to lcleary@umd.edu

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Mark Twain's Sketches, New and Old

Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old

Versions of a book from manuscript through various publications

Versions of a book from manuscript through various publications

students_400v3

 

AFL-CIO Archives now available at UMD

The George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive is the largest single donation to the University Libraries and complements other labor-related collections in our libraries. To find out more about related labor collections in Special Collections, please view Collections By Subject: Labor In America.

The AFL-CIO Archive consists of approximately 40 million documents and other material that will help researchers better understand pivotal social movements in this country, including those to gain rights for women, children and minorities.AFL-CIO boxes

The Current list of re-opened record groups from the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive:

RG1:      Office of the President

  • RG1-010              Office of the President.  Rosa Lee Guard Papers, 1904-1927
  • RG1-011              Office of the President.  Samuel Gompers’ Copy Books, 1907 1924
  • RG1-012              Office of the President.  Correspondence with Politicians, 1908‑1944
  • RG1-013              Office of the President.  Samuel Gompers and Woodrow Wilson
  • RG1-015              Office of the President.  William Green Papers, 1888, 1909 1952
  • RG1-019              Office of the President.  President’s Files, William Green, 1869-1955
  • RG1-023              Office of the President.  President’s Files, William Green, 1940‑1952
  • RG1-026              Office of the President.  George Meany Papers, 1935-1960
  • RG1-027              Office of the President.  President’s Files, George Meany, 1947-1960
  • RG1-028              Office of the President.  Merger Files, State and Local Central Bodies, 1955‑1962
  • RG1-038              Office of the President.  George Meany Files, 1940-1980
  • RG1-039              Office of the President.  AFL-CIO Joint Minimum Wage Committee, 1954-1960
  • RG1-040              Office of the President.  AFL Cornerstone Papers, 1881-1916
  • RG1-041              Office of the President.  Jurisdiction Books, 1890-1978

RG2:      Secretary-Treasurer’s Office

  • RG2-001              Secretary Treasurer’s Office.  Gabriel Edmonston Papers, 1881 1912
  • RG2-002              Secretary Treasurer’s Office.  Frank Morrison’s Letterbooks, 1904 1925
  • RG2-003              Secretary‑Treasurer’s Office.  Frank Morrison, 1911‑1914
  • RG2-006              Office of the Secretary‑Treasurer.  Secretary‑ Treasurer’s Files, George Meany, 1940‑1953
  • RG2-007              Office of the Secretary‑Treasurer.  Secretary‑ Treasurer’s Files:  William F. Schnitzler, 1952‑1980
  • RG2-009              Secretary‑Treasurer’s Office.  AFL Account Books, 1887‑1925
  • RG2-010              Secretary‑Treasurer’s Office.  AFL, AFL‑CIO Charter Books, 1891‑1966

AFL-CIO boxesRG4:      Executive Council

  • RG4-004              Executive Council.  Correspondence, Minutes, Vote Books, 1891 1954
  • RG4-005              Executive Council.  Samuel Gompers Memorial Committee, 1924‑1936
  • RG4-006              Executive Council.  AFL CIO Executive Council Minutes, 1955 1969
  • RG4-008              American Federation of Labor.  Executive Council Minutes, 1893-1955
  • RG4-009              Congress of Industrial Organization.  Executive Board.  Proceedings, 1942-1955

RG5:     Office of the General Council

  • RG5-001              Office of the General Council.  Lawyers Coordinating Committee Oral History Project

RG9:      Civil Rights Department

  • RG9-001              Civil Rights Department.  AFL Records, 1943 1955; CIO Committee to Abolish Discrimination, 1948 1950; AFL CIO Director’s Files, 1956 1967
  • RG9-002              Civil Rights Department.  Discrimination Case Files, 1947 1984

RG13:   Research Department

George Meany

George Meany

  • RG13-001           Research Department.  Boris Shishkin Papers, 1918, 1927-1971
  • RG13‑002          Research Department.  Staff Files, Frank Fernbach, 1942 1968
  • RG13‑003          Research Department.  Staff Files, Nat Goldfinger, 1947‑1966
  • RG13‑004          CIO Research Department.  Staff Files, Everett Kassalow, 1947-1951
  • RG13 005            Research Department.  Director’s Files, Stanley H. Ruttenberg, 1946-1964
  • RG13‑006          Economic Research Department.  Office of Wage and Industrial Relations Records. Anne Draper Files, 1963‑1994
  • RG13-007           Research Department.  Convention Files, 1953

RG18:   International Affairs Department

  • RG18‑001          International Affairs Department.  Country Files, 1945‑1971
  • RG18‑002          CIO International Affairs Department.  Director’s Files, Michael Ross, 1945‑1955
  • RG18‑003          International Affairs Department.  Jay Lovestone Files, 1939 1974
  • RG18‑004          Affairs Department.  Irving Brown Files, 1943‑1989
  • RG18‑005          Affairs Department.  Staff Files:  George Delaney’s Files, 1921-1957
  • RG18‑007          International Affairs Department.  International Labor Organizations Activities, 1946-1985
  • RG18‑008          International Affairs Department.  AFL Advisors to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1944-1952
  • RG18‑009          International Affairs Department.  Staff Files:  Serafino Romualdi’s Files, 1945-1961
  • RG18‑010          International Affairs Department.  Country Files, 1969-1981.

RG20:  Information Department

  • RG20-001           Information Department.  Major News Publications of the CIO, AFL, and AFL-CIO, 1894-1996
  • RG20-002           Information Department.  CIO Union News Service, 1936-1950

RG95:   Private Donations

  • RG95-001           Morris S. Novik Papers, 1940 1989
  • RG95-002           Vanni Buscemi Montana Collection, 1925 1991
  • RG95-003           Virginia Tehas Oral Interview
  • RG95-004           Trades Union Congress Papers, 1942-1943
  • RG95-005           United Labor Policy Committee, 1950-1951
  • RG95-006           William Baillie Baird Papers, 1886-1927
  • RG95-007           Private Donations.  Lane Kirkland Papers, 1863-1998
  • RG95-008           Larry Rogin Papers, 1926-1988

RG96:   Still Images

  • RG96-001           Photographic Prints
  • RG96-003           Photographic Slides
  • RG96-004           Morris B. Schnapper Collection

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

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!

Two feminists, two strategies

Both Dorothy Sucher and Djuna Barnes were women’s rights advocates, but they led very different lives.

Click to enlarge. From the Dorothy Sucher Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Click to enlarge. From the Dorothy Sucher Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1404

Dorothy Sucher

How do we define Dorothy Sucher?

  • Mother
  • Mystery writer and founder of the Mid-Atlantic region of Sisters in Crime
  •  Psychotherapist, with a Masters of Mental Health from Johns Hopkins University
  •  Creative writing teacher at Georgetown University, Duke University, and the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland
  •  Editor, reporter, and columnist for Greenbelt News Review
  •  Watercolor artist
  •  Women’s rights activist and Maryland’s Consciousness Raising Coordinator for the National Organization for Women
  •  Normal?

 

Djuna Barnes being forcibly fed. New York World Magazine, September 6, 1914. Djuna Barnes Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland. http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1512

Djuna Barnes being forcibly fed. New York World Magazine, September 6, 1914. Djuna Barnes Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland. http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1512

Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes was a women’s rights activist, newspaper reporter, author and artist. Brooklyn Museum curator Catherine Morris describes Barnes’s reporting style as “stunt journalism” (see the NPR All Things Considered story Embracing the Quirkiness of Djuna Barnes).

For one of her articles, Djuna Barnes researched the force-feeding of British suffragettes by subjecting herself to the same treatment.

HOW IT FEELS TO BE FORCIBLY FED

Djuna Barnes, New York World Magazine September 6, 1914

“I shall be strictly professional, I assured myself. If it be an ordeal, it is familiar to my sex at this time; other women have suffered it in acute reality. Surely I have as much nerve as my English sisters? Then I held myself steady. I thought so, and I caught sight of my face in the glass. It was quite white; and I was swallowing convulsively.

And then I knew my soul stood terrified before a little yard of red rubber tubing.”

Read the original at Digital Collections at University of Maryland Libraries (requires Flash).

 

 

 

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