Women's Studies


"Using the Weed" and Other 19th-Century Plays for ‘Female Characters Only’

Drama.JPG

This month’s release of Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment, 1820-1900, adds several plays with all-female casts. Three such works are highlighted here.


Using the Weed cover.jpg

Written by George Melville Baker and first published in 1865, “Using the ‘Weed’” takes place in a small boarding school for young ladies. There are seven characters including Miss Betty Bookworm who is the principal of the school, her assistant Mrs. Starch, three young ladies, and the twin sister aunts of student Clarissa Harlowe Smithers.

Clarissa is a playful girl who takes pleasure in rattling her spinster guardians. To the distress of her classmates, she is dedicated to her sewing machine:

Mary. I declare, Clari, you will wear yourself out at the sewing machine.

Fanny. Your devoted attachment to that useful but tiresome instrument is really surprising.

Clarissa. Law, girls, I shall never tire of it. You know it is a novelty to me.

Fanny. Novelty! Why, I imagined there was not a family in the world without one.

Mary. Mother has had one ever since I can recollect.

Fanny. The idea that a young lady, with such a romantic name as Clarissa Harlowe Smithers, should become such a devoted slave to the needle and treadle is very surprising.

"Using the Weed" and Other 19th-Century Plays for ‘Female Characters Only’

Now available for trial! Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment, 1820-1900

Capture.JPG

The inaugural release of Nineteenth-Century American Drama includes plays that range over the most popular genres of its 80-year time span. There are comedies and melodramas, Revolutionary and Civil War dramas, plays with all-women and all-black casts, temperance plays, and plays for children for school and home entertainment, as well as many plays written by women. Here are some examples of the diversity of genres and titles now available:

Histories:

  • ‘Pocahontas. A Historical Drama, in Five Acts’ by Robert Dale Owen (1837)
  • ‘The Ku Klux Klan, or, The Carpet-Bagger in New Orleans’ by Elizabeth Avery Meriwether (1877)

KKK (2).jpg

 

Tragedies:

  • ‘Mohammed, The Arabian Prophet. A Tragedy in Five Acts’ by George Henry Miles (1850)

Comedies:

Now available for trial! Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment, 1820-1900

‘The Hard Pillow of the Dying Hero’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

This month’s release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes the personal account of a formidable nurse and her care of wounded and dying Union Army soldiers, an address to a reunion of Confederate veterans in 1895, and a first-person description of a southern woman’s travails in a Union prison in the post-war era.


In Hospital and Camp: A Woman’s Record of Thrilling Incidents among the Wounded in the Late War (1869)

By Sophronia E. Bucklin

In hospital title page.jpg

Sophronia Bucklin (1828-1902) was an unmarried seamstress born in 1828 and living in upstate New York when the war began. She was determined to serve, as her opening paragraph of this account makes clear.

When, in the complexity of national affairs, it became necessary for armed men to assemble in multitudes, to become exposed to the hardships and privations of camps and deadly peril of battle fields, there arose the same necessity for woman to lend her helping hand to bind up the wounds of the shattered soldier, and smooth the hard pillow of the dying hero.

She met her mission, and her tireless work did not go unnoticed although she may not be as well remembered as Dorothea Dix or Clara Barton. Someone using the initials S.L.C. has written an introduction to this imprint in which she cites Bucklin as the embodiment of countless women of courage and forbearance.

‘The Hard Pillow of the Dying Hero’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘The Privileged Order’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The December release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three items by women: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria V. Clayton and Sallie Holley. Each offers a different perspective on America’s peculiar institution.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton.jpg

 

Clayton Portrait.jpg

 

Holley Portrait.jpg

 


Address in Favor of Universal Suffrage for the Election of Delegates to the Constitutional Convention (1867)

By Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Stanton Title Page.jpg

‘The Privileged Order’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

"Equal power and privileges": Victoria Woodhull, First Woman Nominated for President of the United States

Victoria_Woodhull_by_Mathew_Brady_c1870.jpg

In 2016 Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win a major political party’s nomination for U.S. president. While she campaigns this year to earn the votes of as many men and women as possible, the first woman to run for America’s highest office did so at a time when only men had the right to vote. Although Victoria Woodhull knew her 1872 bid for the U.S. presidency would be considered outlandish, she understood that a female bid for the presidency would be seriously considered in the future.

In the presidential election of 1872 Woodhull faced Republican Party nominee Ulysses S. Grant, Liberal Republican Party nominee Horace Greeley, and several others.  Coverage of the Woodhull campaign, as found in Early American Newspapers, gives a unique perspective of the public response to her audacious role in American politics.

Reporting reveals Woodhull to have been an electrifying public speaker who expressed her opinions, no matter what the response. The press seemed to have enjoyed making a spectacle of her public speeches and depicted them as well-attended, rowdy events:

"Equal power and privileges": Victoria Woodhull, First Woman Nominated for President of the United States

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2016

In this issue, Professor Joycelyn Moody challenges students in a Spring 2015 graduate seminar to collaboratively craft articles fueled by discoveries within Afro-Americana Imprints. Moody discusses the students’ work in the context of black/white relations post-Ferguson. The three student-written articles—also published here—focus on female interracial activism, the subtext of Christian abolitionist works, and the motives of 19th-century benefactors.


Unlearning from Uncle Tom's Cabin in Black Literary Studies After Ferguson: Perspectives from a Graduate Seminar Utilizing Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922 

By Joycelyn Moody, Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature, University of Texas at San Antonio

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2016

“This Great and Glorious Country”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The January release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a philosophical exploration of death and future life, a moving slave narrative, and the autobiography of the U.S. Army’s first African American nurse. 


Death, Hades, and the Resurrection (1883) 

By Theophilus Gould Steward 

Educator, clergyman, and Buffalo Soldier, Theophilus Gould Steward was born to free African Americans in New Jersey in 1843. This work was published when Steward was 40, eight years before he joined the 25th U.S. Colored Infantry and two years after he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from Wilberforce University.    

Steward begins Death, Hades, and the Resurrection by asking questions pondered since time immemorial: 

What is it to die? Do we live after death? Can anything be known of the experiences, and employments, of those beyond death? Is there any possible means of communication between the living and the dead? Is there any communication among the dead themselves? Are there any individual joys, or sorrows, among them? 

Steward turns to religion, specifically Christianity, to answer these seemingly scientific queries. He begins by acknowledging religion “has no self-evident axioms from which it may proceed, as science has; no list of experiments by which it can be tested beforehand; but claims Faith first, and investigation afterward.” But he then muddies that distinction: 

“This Great and Glorious Country”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Women in Disguise, Distress and Even in Battle: Riveting Works by Women in American Pamphlets

Although men constitute a preponderance of the authors of the more than 25,000 American pamphlets in the New-York Historical Society’s extraordinary collection, many works written and published by women are also included. From the most recent release of American Pamphlets, Series 1, 1822-1922, here are brief descriptions of three gripping personal narratives by American women:


The life and adventures of Ann Eliza Dow being a true narrative written by herself (1845)

Women in Disguise, Distress and Even in Battle: Riveting Works by Women in American Pamphlets

The First Woman Elected to Congress: Jeannette Rankin’s Historic Victory

On Nov. 7, 1916, the U.S. Congress—and the entire nation—forever changed when Montana’s Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress, winning a seat in the House of Representatives. Women at that time did not have universal suffrage—the 19th Amendment, granting all American women the right to vote, was passed by Congress in 1919 but did not become law until it was ratified on Aug. 26, 1920.
The First Woman Elected to Congress: Jeannette Rankin’s Historic Victory

African American Women’s History in the Digital Age: A Readex Breakfast Presentation

On January 26, 2014, during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia, will present “Still Reading the Silences: African American Women’s History in the Digital Age.”

Prof. Dunbar’s talk will focus on the work of recovering early African American women's history, both before and during the digital revolution. She will examine the utility and limitations of digitization in early African American history. For many historians, the digitization of documents and images has allowed scholars wider access to important evidence. Yet for historians of women and people of African descent the evidence trail remains elusive. While digitization promotes the wider dissemination of historical evidence, it doesn't provide a remedy for absent voices. Dunbar will discuss the ways that historians of women and people of African descent must engage in new digitization technology as well as older techniques of gathering and interpreting evidence.

African American Women’s History in the Digital Age: A Readex Breakfast Presentation

Pages

Monthly Archives


Back to top