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Women's History Month

Women’s History in Digital Collections

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March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women across time and space. We bring Women’s History Month to a close with this roundup of representations of and works by women in our Digital Collections. Explore and be inspired.  

This post was compiled through contributions from the NYPL Labs and development teams, thanks especially to Ashley Blewer and Shana Kimball. Please let us know if you have any additions in the comments!

History

Selected digitized portions of the Schwimmer-Lloyd Collection feature photographs of feminists and suffragists from the papers of Rosika Schwimmer. The papers document her career as a suffragist, feminist, pacifist, world government advocate and Hungarian diplomat. A large selection of the featured photographs pertain to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) Congresses. Correspondents include hundreds of notable Americans and Europeans such as Jane Addams, Anita Augspurg, Emily G. Balch, Mary R. Beard, Carrie Chapman Catt, Albert Einstein, Lida Gustava Heymann, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Aletta Jacobs, Alice Paul, Anna Howard Shaw, Baroness Bertha von Suttner, and Count Michael Karolyi.

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Student pages with the banner 'International Woman Suffrage Alliance' at the Congress, Stockholm 1911. Image ID: 1536497

From the Lewis Hine documentary collection, this portion of the collection is specifically about documenting "women at work" from 1905-1939.

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Corner of a Broadway flower factory. Image ID: 439913

We have a collection on the subject of women joining the World War I war effort in France and a collection featuring women at work during World War II.

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Verification des ebauches avant ogivage. Image ID: 1158830
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Skilled women workers helped build SS George Washington Carver. Image ID: 1260397

"In Motion: The African American Migration Experience" is a sweeping 500-year historical narrative from the transatlantic slave trade to the Western migration, the colonization movement, the Great Migration, and the contemporary immigration of Caribbeans, Haitians, and sub-Saharan Africans. Digitized in support of this website, Noted Negro women: their triumphs and activities features portraits of famous African American women and Work of colored women; compiled by Jane Olcott, issued by the Colored Work Committee, War Work Council, National Board Young Women's Christian Associations features African American women at work and participating in the YWCA.

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Mrs. Albert Wilson, Mrs. V.A. Montgomery, Miss Blanche Washington. Image ID: 1221553
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Girl reserves. Image ID: 1169404

Prints

Printing Women is an exhibition open until the end of May at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Digital surrogates of much of the collection are available in the Digital Collections.

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Young girl laughing at the old woman. Image ID: 5273098

Prints from printmaker and painter Mary Cassatt are available in the Samuel Putnam Avery Collection.

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Under the lamp. Image ID: 5023554

Photography

Martha Swope was the preeminent female photographer of theater/dance in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s in a field dominated by men.

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A scene from the Broadway production of the musical 42nd Street. New York. Image ID: swope_267262

Diana Davies and Kay Tobin were photographers who documented the civil rights movement of gays and lesbians during the 1960s and ‘70s.

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Gay rights demonstration, Albany, New York, 1971. Image ID: 1582010
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Renée Vera Cafiero picketing. Image ID: 1605715

From 1929-38, Berenice Abbott photographed urban material culture and the built environment of New York, documenting the old before it was torn down and recording new construction.

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Ferry, Chambers Street, Manhattan. Image ID: 482707

Cynthia MacAdams documented actresses and icons of the 1970s in Emergence and the down and out sights of the Bowery of the 1970s and ‘80s.

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Self-portrait. Image ID: 3969767

Alice Austen grew up in Staten Island and captured everyday life with her camera in New York City at the turn of the 20th century: messenger boys, street sweepers, organ grinders, and peddlers. More at What a Woman Can Do With a Camera: The Photography of Alice Austen.

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Newspaper woman. Image ID: 79826

Florence Vandamm and the Vandamm Studio took some of the best known photographs of performance from 1908-1962. Learn the stories behind the portraits and production shots from Suffrage theater in London to Broadway's golden age, with stops in Hollywood, experimental dance and fashion on the way.

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Scene from the stage production Annie Get Your Gun. Image ID: ps_the_2426

Dance

We have featured many collections from our Jerome Robbins Dance Division that happen to cover the history of women and dance. Of note are the Isadora Duncan collection and this bonus collection of illustrations featuring Isadora Duncan. Ruth St. Denis and others are featured in the Denishawn Collections. Loie Fuller, Doris Humphrey, Ruth Page, Anna Pavlova, Flore Revalles, and many more are featured  within the Photograph Collections. If you're in New York, the Library of Performing Arts has the Janis Brenner video archive available for streaming.

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Loie Fuller in wide cape. Image ID: ful015_001

Literature

We have over 200 pictures of Gertrude Stein taken by her literary executor, Carl Van Vechten, who later donated his collections to the library.

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Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein on the Terrace at Bilignin, June 13, 1934. Image ID: 486951

Sophia Peabody Hawthorne was an American artist and writer, and the wife of the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, and we have a collection of her papers.

Additionally, Digital Collections holds a variety of digitized materials on many women authors, including but not limited to: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott, Edna St. Vincent Millay,  Virginia Woolf,  Lorraine Hansberry, Dorothy Parker, Mary Wollstonecraft, Adrienne Rich, Mary Shelley, Willa Cather, and Ayn Rand.

Maya Angelou (as a performer in a Jean Genet production from 1961)

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Maya Angelou and Charles Gordone (in masks) in the stage production The Blacks. Image ID: 5351578

Bonus “Firsts”

Two pictures in our collections feature Ada Lovelace, attributed as the first computer programmer!

These cyanotypes of British algae taken by Anna Atkins are considered to be the first published photographic work by a woman.

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Chordaria flagelliformis. Image ID: 419720

 

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