Celebrating Women Composers: A New BBC Digital Archive Takes You from Hildegard of Bingen (1098) to Nadia Boulanger (1979)

Recent­ly, we pub­lished a post about Nadia Boulanger, the 20th cen­tu­ry’s most influ­en­tial music teacher. While a com­pos­er and con­duc­tor in her own right—indeed, she was the first woman to con­duct major sym­phonies in Europe and the U.S.—Boulanger is best known for her list of illus­tri­ous stu­dents, includ­ing Aaron Cop­land, Leonard Bern­stein, Philip Glass, and Quin­cy Jones.

One read­er of the post right­ly point­ed out a not-so-glar­ing irony in the way Boulanger has been remem­bered. While cel­e­brat­ed as a pow­er­ful woman in music, in a sea of more famous men, her many dis­tin­guished female stu­dents go unmen­tioned, per­haps more due to igno­rance than prej­u­dice (though this may be no great excuse). Most peo­ple have nev­er heard of for­mer Boulanger stu­dents like Graży­na Bacewicz, Mar­i­on Bauer, Louise Tal­ma, Peg­gy Glanville-Hicks and Pri­aulx Rainier.

Not many have heard of Lili Boulanger, Nadia’s sis­ter, a child prodi­gy who died at 24, after com­pos­ing two dozen inno­v­a­tive choral and instru­men­tal works and becom­ing the first woman to win the Prix de Rome in 1913, at the age of 19, for her can­ta­ta Faust and Hélène, with lyrics, by Eugene Ade­nis, based on Goethe’s Faust (top).

Pol­ish com­pos­er Bacewicz, who began study­ing with Nadia Boulanger’s for­mer stu­dent Kaz­imierz Siko­rs­ki at 13, trav­eled to Paris to “learn from the great ped­a­gogue her­self,” notes the BBC Music Mag­a­zine.

Bacewicz was an incred­i­bly tal­ent­ed vio­lin­ist (see her fur­ther up in 1952) and a wide­ly admired com­pos­er, just one of many note­wor­thy female com­posers, of the past and present, who don’t often turn up in con­ver­sa­tion about clas­si­cal and avant-garde music. The BBC aims to cor­rect these major slights with their “Cel­e­brat­ing Women Com­posers” series, which fea­tures archival inter­view clips from leg­ends like Nadia Boulanger, Dame Ethel Smyth (pro­filed above), and Elis­a­beth Lutyens.

You’ll also find inter­views with dozens of con­tem­po­rary female com­posers, a series on com­posers’ rooms, pro­files of his­tor­i­cal greats, links to per­for­mance record­ings, and sev­er­al infor­ma­tive arti­cles on women com­posers past and present. Most of the com­posers pro­filed have found some mea­sure of fame in their life­time, and renown among those in the know, but are unknown to the gen­er­al pub­lic.

Some of the com­posers you’ll learn about, like the five in a fea­ture titled “The Women Erased from Musi­cal His­to­ry,” might have dis­ap­peared entire­ly were it not for the work of archivists. Learn about these redis­cov­ered fig­ures and much, much more at the BBC’s Cel­e­brat­ing Women Com­posers, one of many such projects mak­ing it hard­er to plead igno­rance of women’s pres­ence in clas­si­cal music.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Meet Nadia Boulanger, “The Most Influ­en­tial Teacher Since Socrates,” Who Men­tored Philip Glass, Leonard Bern­stein, Aaron Cop­land, Quin­cy Jones & Oth­er Leg­ends

1200 Years of Women Com­posers: A Free 78-Hour Music Playlist That Takes You From Medieval Times to Now

Hear Sev­en Hours of Women Mak­ing Elec­tron­ic Music (1938–2014)

Meet Four Women Who Pio­neered Elec­tron­ic Music: Daphne Oram, Lau­rie Spiegel, Éliane Radigue & Pauline Oliv­eros

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

Love the Art, Hate the Artist: How to Approach the Art of Disgraced Artists

Hate the sin, nev­er the sin­ner. — Clarence Dar­row

As a cul­ture, we’ve large­ly stepped away from the sen­ti­ment described by the famed lawyer’s 1924 defense of mur­der­ers Leopold and Loeb.

Apply it to one of the many male artists whose exalt­ed rep­u­ta­tions have been shat­tered by alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al impro­pri­ety and oth­er ruinous behav­iors and you won’t find your­self cel­e­brat­ed for your virtue in the court of pub­lic opin­ion.

But what of those artists’ cre­ative out­put?

Does that get bun­dled in with hat­ing both sin and sin­ner?

It’s a ques­tion that his­to­ri­an and for­mer cura­tor Sarah Urist Green is well equipped to tack­le.

Green’s PBS Dig­i­tal Stu­dios web series, The Art Assign­ment, explores art and art his­to­ry through the lens of the present.

In the episode titled Hate the Artist, Love the Art, above, Green takes a more tem­per­ate approach to the sub­ject than come­di­an Han­nah Gads­by, whose solo show, Nanette, includ­ed an incen­di­ary take­down of Picas­so:

I hate Picas­so. and you can’t make me like him. I know I should be more gen­er­ous about him too, because he suf­fered a men­tal ill­ness. But nobody knows that, because it doesn’t fit with his mythol­o­gy. Picas­so is sold to us as this pas­sion­ate, tor­ment­ed, genius, man-ball-sack. But Picas­so suf­fered the men­tal illness…of misog­y­ny.

Don’t believe me? He said, “Each time I leave a woman, I should burn her. Destroy the woman, you destroy the past she rep­re­sents.” Cool guy. The great­est artist of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Picas­so fucked an under­age girl. That’s it for me, not inter­est­ed.

But Cubism! He made it! Marie-Thérèse Wal­ter, she was 17 when they met: under­age. Picas­so, he was 42, at the height of his career. Does it mat­ter? It actu­al­ly does mat­ter. But as Picas­so said, “It was perfect—I was in my prime, she was in her prime.” I prob­a­bly read that when I was 17. Do you know how grim that was?


A dif­fer­ent sort of grim than the hor­rors he depict­ed in Guer­ni­ca, still an incred­i­bly potent con­dem­na­tion of the human cost of war.

Should exemp­tions be made, then, for works of great genius or last­ing social import?

Up to you, says Green, advo­cat­ing that every view­er should pause to con­sid­er the rip­ples caused by their con­tin­ued embrace of a dis­graced artist.

But what if we don’t know that the artist’s been dis­graced?

That seems unlike­ly as cura­tors scram­ble to acknowl­edge the offender’s trans­gres­sions on gallery cards, and emer­gent artists attempt to set the record straight with response pieces dis­played in prox­im­i­ty.

Green notes that even with­out such overt cues, it’s very dif­fi­cult to get a “pure” read­ing of an estab­lished artist’s work.

Any­thing we may have gleaned about the artist’s per­son­al con­duct, whether good or ill, proven, unproven, or dis­proven, fac­tors into the way we expe­ri­ence that artist’s work. The source can be a paper of record, the Inter­net, a guest at a par­ty repeat­ing a per­son­al anec­dote…

It can also be painful to relin­quish our youth­ful favorites’ hold on us, espe­cial­ly when the attach­ment was formed of our own free will.

What would Han­nah Gads­by say to my reluc­tance to sev­er ties com­plete­ly with Gauguin’s Tahi­ti paint­ings, encoun­tered for the first time when I was approx­i­mate­ly the same age as the brown-skinned teenaged mus­es he paint­ed and took to bed?

The behav­ior that was once framed as evi­dence of an artis­tic spir­it that could not be fet­tered by soci­etal expec­ta­tions, seems beyond jus­ti­fi­ca­tion today. Still, it’s unlike­ly Gau­guin will be ban­ished from major col­lec­tions, or for that mat­ter, the his­to­ry of art, any time soon.

As Julia Halperin, exec­u­tive edi­tor of Art­net News observed short­ly after Nanette became a viral sen­sa­tion:

A Net­flix com­e­dy spe­cial is not going to com­pel muse­ums to throw out their Picas­sos. Nor should they! You can’t tell the sto­ry of 20th-cen­tu­ry art with­out him…. Although gloss­ing over, white­wash­ing, or shoe-horn­ing sto­ries of Picasso’s abuse into a com­fort­able nar­ra­tive about pas­sion­ate genius may be use­ful to main­tain his mar­ket val­ue and his bank­a­bil­i­ty as a tourist attrac­tion, it also does every­one a dis­ser­vice… we can under­stand Picasso’s con­tri­bu­tions bet­ter if we can hold these two seem­ing­ly incom­pat­i­ble truths in our minds at once. It’s not as uplift­ing as a straight­for­ward tale about a vision­ary cre­ative whose flaws were only in ser­vice to its genius. But it is more honest—and it might even help us under­stand the evo­lu­tion of our own cul­ture, and how we got to where we are today, a lot bet­ter.

Green pro­vides a list of ques­tions that can help indi­vid­ual view­ers who are reeval­u­at­ing the out­put of “prob­lem­at­ic” artists:

Is the work a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort?

Does the work reflect the val­ue sys­tem of the offend­er?

Are we to apply the same stan­dard to the work of sci­en­tists whose con­duct is sim­i­lar­ly offen­sive?

Who suf­fers when the offender’s work remains acces­si­ble?

Who suf­fers when the offender’s work is erased?

Who reaps the reward of our con­tin­ued atten­tion?

As Green points out, the shades of grey are many, though the choice of whether to enter­tain those shades varies from indi­vid­ual to indi­vid­ual.

Read­ers, where do you fall in this ever-evolv­ing debate. Is there an artist you have sworn off of, entire­ly or in part? Tell us who and why in the com­ments.

Watch more episodes of the Art Assign­ment here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

George Orwell Reviews Sal­vador Dali’s Auto­bi­og­ra­phy: “Dali is a Good Draughts­man and a Dis­gust­ing Human Being” (1944)

When The Sur­re­al­ists Expelled Sal­vador Dalí for “the Glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of Hit­ler­ian Fas­cism” (1934)

The Gestapo Points to Guer­ni­ca and Asks Picas­so, “Did You Do This?;” Picas­so Replies “No, You Did!”

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 6 when her month­ly book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domaincel­e­brates Cape-Cod­di­ties (1920) by Roger Liv­ingston Scaife. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Download Beautiful Free Posters Celebrating the Achievements of Living Female STEM Leaders

Remem­ber the posters that dec­o­rat­ed your child­hood or teenaged bed­room?

Of course you do.

Whether aspi­ra­tional or inspi­ra­tional, these images are amaz­ing­ly potent.

I’m a bit embar­rassed to admit what hung over my bed, espe­cial­ly in light of a cer­tain CGI adap­ta­tion…

No such wor­ries with a set of eight free down­load­able posters hon­or­ing eight female trail­blaz­ers in the fields of sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and math.

These should prove ever­green.

Com­mis­sioned by Nev­er­the­less, a pod­cast that cel­e­brates women whose advance­ments in STEM fields have shaped—and con­tin­ue to shape—education and learn­ing, each poster is accom­pa­nied with a brief bio­graph­i­cal sketch of the sub­ject.

Nev­er­the­less has tak­en care that the fea­tured achiev­ers are drawn from a wide cul­tur­al and racial pool.

No shame if you’re unfa­mil­iar with some of these extra­or­di­nary women. Their names may not pos­sess the same degree of house­hold recog­ni­tion as Marie Curie, but they will once they’re hang­ing over your daughter’s (or son’s) bed.

It’s worth not­ing that with the excep­tion of the under­sung moth­er of DNA Helix Ros­alind Franklin, these are liv­ing role mod­els. They are:

Astro­naut Dr. Mae Jemi­son

Robot­ics pio­neer Dr. Cyn­thia Breazeal

Math­e­mati­cian Gladys West

Tech inno­va­tor Juliana Rotich

Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal chemist Tu Youy­ou

Bio­phar­ma­cist and women rights advo­cate Maria da Pen­ha

Biotech­nol­o­gist Dr. Hay­at Sin­di

Kudos, too, to Nev­er­the­less for includ­ing biogra­phies of the eight female illus­tra­tors charged with bring­ing the STEM lumi­nar­ies to aes­thet­i­cal­ly cohe­sive graph­ic life: Lidia Toma­shevskaya,Thandi­we Tsha­bal­alaCami­la RosaXu HuiKari­na PerezJoana NevesGene­va B, and Juli­ette Bro­cal

Lis­ten to Nev­er­the­less’ episode on STEM Role Mod­els here.

Down­load Nev­er­the­less’ free posters in Eng­lish here. You can also down­load zipped fold­ers con­tain­ing all eight posters trans­lat­ed into Brazil­ian Por­tugueseFrenchFrench Cana­di­anGer­manItal­ianSpan­ish, and Sim­pli­fied Chi­nese.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pop Art Posters Cel­e­brate Pio­neer­ing Women Sci­en­tists: Down­load Free Posters of Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace & More

Women Sci­en­tists Launch a Data­base Fea­tur­ing the Work of 9,000 Women Work­ing in the Sci­ences

“The Matil­da Effect”: How Pio­neer­ing Women Sci­en­tists Have Been Denied Recog­ni­tion and Writ­ten Out of Sci­ence His­to­ry

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 6 when her month­ly book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domaincel­e­brates Cape-Cod­di­ties (1920) by Roger Liv­ingston Scaife. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Women Scientists Launch a Database Featuring the Work of 9,000 Women Working in the Sciences

“Why are there so few women in sci­ence?” has almost become a tire­some refrain over the years, giv­en how lit­tle the answers engage with the thou­sands of female sci­en­tists work­ing all over the world. “Too often,” writes the project 500 Women Sci­en­tists, “high-pro­file arti­cles, con­fer­ence pan­els, and boards are filled with a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of male voic­es. News sto­ries are report­ed by more men by a huge mar­gin, and this imbal­ance is reflect­ed in how fre­quent­ly women are quot­ed in news sto­ries unless jour­nal­ists make a con­scious effort to reach out.

“Most keynote speak­ers at con­fer­ences are men. Pan­els are so fre­quent­ly all-male that a new word evolved to describe the phe­nom­e­non: manels. These imbal­ances add up and rein­force the inac­cu­rate per­cep­tion that sci­ence is stale, pale and male.” The next time the ques­tion arises—“why are there so few women in science?”—or any oth­er ques­tion need­ing sci­en­tif­ic exper­tise, one need only ges­ture silent­ly to 500 Women Sci­en­tists, a grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion con­sist­ing of far more sci­en­tists than its title sug­gests.

Described as “a resource for jour­nal­ists, edu­ca­tors, pol­i­cy mak­ers, sci­en­tists and any­one need­ing sci­en­tif­ic exper­tise,” the project began in 2016 as an open let­ter penned by its founders, then grad­u­ate stu­dents at Col­orado Uni­ver­si­ty, Boul­der, who decid­ed to re-affirm their val­ues against reac­tionary attacks by amass­ing 500 sig­na­tures on an open let­ter. They’ve since built a search­able data­base of over 9,000 women researchers from around the world, and a resource that helps build local sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ties.

Since launch­ing last year, their Request a Sci­en­tist data­base has shown “the excuse that you can’t find a qual­i­fied woman just does­n’t hold,” says co-founder and micro­bial ecol­o­gist Dr. Kel­ly Ramirez-Don­ders. It has also pro­vid­ed much more detailed data on women in sci­ence, which was pub­lished in a paper at PLOS Biol­o­gy in April. “The group has ambi­tious plans to keep expand­ing its reach,” writes STAT. “They’re rais­ing mon­ey to start a fel­low­ship for women of col­or… and they have already launched an affil­i­ate group, 500 Women in Med­i­cine.”

“We’re sci­en­tists. We’re lovers of evi­dence and data points,” says co-founder Maryam Zaring­ha­lam, a mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gist. “And so now any­time some­body tells us they couldn’t find some­one or there just aren’t enough women in STEM fields, we can point them to [the data­base] and say, ‘Well, actu­al­ly, this is the tip of the ice­berg, and there’s over 8,000.’… ensur­ing that women’s voic­es are rep­re­sent­ed in the media nar­ra­tives is real­ly essen­tial for show­ing that, ‘No, we are here, it’s just that peo­ple haven’t nec­es­sar­i­ly been aware of us or done the work to find us.’”

Cor­rect­ing mis­per­cep­tions not only helps reduce bias­es with­in sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ties; it also encour­ages bud­ding sci­en­tists who might oth­er­wise be dis­cour­aged from the pur­suit. “It’s not that girls are not inter­est­ed in sci­ence,” co-founder Jane Zeliko­va tells Good Morn­ing Amer­i­ca. “Some­thing hap­pens where they don’t see women or girls rep­re­sent­ed as sci­en­tists and they don’t think it’s for them.” 500 Women in Sci­ence proves that notion wrong—science is for them, and for every­one who wants to devote their lives to sci­en­tif­ic research. Just look at the data.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Women’s Hid­den Con­tri­bu­tions to Mod­ern Genet­ics Get Revealed by New Study: No Longer Will They Be Buried in the Foot­notes

“The Matil­da Effect”: How Pio­neer­ing Women Sci­en­tists Have Been Denied Recog­ni­tion and Writ­ten Out of Sci­ence His­to­ry

Real Women Talk About Their Careers in Sci­ence

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Nine Things a Woman Couldn’t Do in 1971

As we bar­rel toward the cen­ten­ni­al cel­e­bra­tion of wom­en’s suf­frage in the Unit­ed States, it’s not enough to bone up on the plat­forms of female pri­ma­ry can­di­dates (though that’s an excel­lent start).

A Twit­ter user and self-described Old Crone named Robyn recent­ly urged her fel­low Amer­i­cans to take a good long gan­der at a list of nine free­doms women in the Unit­ed States were not uni­ver­sal­ly grant­ed in 1971, the year Helen Red­dy released the soon-to-be anthem, “I Am Woman,” above.

Even those of us who remem­ber singing along as chil­dren may expe­ri­ence some shock that these facts check out on Snopes.

  1. CREDIT CARDS: Pri­or to the Equal Cred­it Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act of 1974, mar­ried women couldn’t get cred­it cards with­out their hus­bands’ sig­na­tures. Sin­gle women, divorcees, and wid­ows were often required to have a man cosign. The dou­ble stan­dard also meant female appli­cants were fre­quent­ly issued card lim­its up to 50% low­er than that of males who earned iden­ti­cal wages.
  2. PREGNANT WORKERS: The Preg­nan­cy Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act of 1978 pro­tect­ed preg­nant women from being fired because of their impend­ing mater­ni­ty. But it came with a major loop­hole that’s still in need of clos­ing. The lan­guage of the 41-year-old law stip­u­lates that the employ­ers must accom­mo­date preg­nant work­ers only if con­ces­sions are being made for oth­er employ­ees who are “sim­i­lar in their abil­i­ty or inabil­i­ty to work.”
  3. JURY DUTY: In 1975, the Supreme Court declared it con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly unac­cept­able for states to deny women the oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve on juries. This is an are­na where we’ve all come a long way, baby. It’s now com­plete­ly nor­mal for men to be excused from jury duty as the pri­ma­ry care­givers of their young chil­dren.
  4. MILITARY COMBAT: In 2013, for­mer Sec­re­tary of Defense Leon Panet­ta and for­mer Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen­er­al Mar­tin Dempsey announced that the Pen­ta­gon was rescind­ing the direct com­bat exclu­sion rule that barred women from serv­ing in artillery, armor, infantry and oth­er such bat­tle roles. At the time of the announce­ment, the mil­i­tary had already seen more than 130 female sol­diers killed, and 800 wound­ed on the front­lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  5. IVY LEAGUE ADMISSIONS: Those who con­ceive of elite col­leges as breed­ing grounds for sex­u­al assault protests and Title IX activism would do well to remem­ber that Colum­bia Col­lege didn’t admit women until 1983, fol­low­ing in the mar­gin­al­ly deep­er foot­steps of oth­ers in the Ivy League—Harvard (1977), Dart­mouth (1972), Brown (1971), Yale (1969), and Prince­ton (1969). These days, sin­gle sex high­er edu­ca­tion options for women far out­num­ber those for men, but the net­work­ing pow­er and increased earn­ing poten­tial an Ivy League degree con­fers remains the same.
  6. WORKPLACE HARASSMENT: In 1977, women who’d been sex­u­al­ly harassed in the work­place received con­fir­ma­tion in three sep­a­rate tri­als that they could sue their employ­ers under Title VII of the 1964 Civ­il Rights Act. In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex harass­ment was also unlaw­ful. In between was the tele­vi­sion event of 1991, Ani­ta Hill’s shock­ing tes­ti­mo­ny against her for­mer boss, U.S. Supreme Court jus­tice (then nom­i­nee) Clarence Thomas.
  7. SPOUSAL CONSENT: In 1993, spousal rape was offi­cial­ly out­lawed in all 50 states. Not tonight hon­ey, or you’ll have a headache in the form of your wife’s legal back up.
  8. HEALTH INSURANCE: In 2010, the Patient Pro­tec­tion and Afford­able Care Act decreed that any health insur­ance plan estab­lished after March of that year could not charge women high­er pre­mi­ums than men for iden­ti­cal ben­e­fits. This was bad news for women who got their health insur­ance through their jobs, and whose employ­ers were grand­fa­thered into dis­crim­i­na­to­ry plans estab­lished pri­or to 2010. Of course, that’s all ancient his­to­ry now.
  9. CONTRACEPTIVES: In 1972, the Supreme Court made it legal for all cit­i­zens to pos­sess birth con­trol, irre­spec­tive of mar­i­tal sta­tus, stat­ing “if the right of pri­va­cy means any­thing, it is the right of the indi­vid­ual, mar­ried or sin­gle, to be free from unwar­rant­ed gov­ern­men­tal intru­sion into mat­ters so fun­da­men­tal­ly affect­ing a per­son as the deci­sion whether to bear or beget a child.” (It’s worth not­ing, how­ev­er, that in 1972, states could still con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pro­hib­it and pun­ish sex out­side of mar­riage.)

Fem­i­nism is NOT just for oth­er women.

- Old Crone

Via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Library of Con­gress Dig­i­tizes Over 16,000 Pages of Let­ters & Speech­es from the Women’s Suf­frage Move­ment, and You Can Help Tran­scribe Them

MAKERS Tells the Sto­ry of 50 Years of Progress for Women in the U.S.

Women’s Hid­den Con­tri­bu­tions to Mod­ern Genet­ics Get Revealed by New Study: No Longer Will They Be Buried in the Foot­notes

A Space of Their Own, a New Online Data­base, Will Fea­ture Works by 600+ Over­looked Female Artists from the 15th-19th Cen­turies

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Octo­ber 7 when her month­ly book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domaincel­e­brates the art of Aubrey Beard­s­ley. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The Library of Congress Digitizes Over 16,000 Pages of Letters & Speeches from the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and You Can Help Transcribe Them

“Democ­ra­cy may not exist,” Astra Tay­lor declares in the title of her new book, “but we’ll miss it when it’s gone.” This inher­ent para­dox, she argues, is not fatal, but a ten­sion with which each era’s demo­c­ra­t­ic move­ments must wres­tle, in messy strug­gles against inevitable oppo­si­tion. “Per­fect democ­ra­cy… may not in fact exist and nev­er will, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make progress toward it, or that what there is of it can’t dis­ap­pear.”

Tay­lor is upfront about “democracy’s dark his­to­ry, from slav­ery and colo­nial­ism to facil­i­tat­ing the emer­gence of fas­cism.” But she is equal­ly cel­e­bra­to­ry of its successes—moments when those who were denied rights mar­shaled every means at their dis­pos­al, from lob­by­ing cam­paigns to con­fronta­tion­al direct action, to win the vote and bet­ter the lives of mil­lions. For all its imper­fec­tions, the women’s suf­frage move­ment of the 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry did just that.

It did so—even before elec­tron­ic mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion systems—by build­ing inter­na­tion­al activist net­works and form­ing nation­al asso­ci­a­tions that took high­ly-vis­i­ble action for decades until the 19th Amend­ment passed in 1920. We can learn how this all came about from the sources them­selves, through the “let­ters, speech­es, news­pa­per arti­cles, per­son­al diaries, and oth­er mate­ri­als from famed suf­frag­ists like Susan B. Antho­ny and Eliz­a­beth Cady Stan­ton.”

So reports Men­tal Floss, describ­ing the Library of Con­gress’ dig­i­tal col­lec­tion of suf­frag­ist papers, which includes dozens of famous and less famous activist voic­es. In one exam­ple of both inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion and inter­na­tion­al ten­sion, Car­rie Chap­man Catt, Anthony’s suc­ces­sor (see a pub­lished excerpt of one of her speech­es below), describes her expe­ri­ence at the Con­gress of the Inter­na­tion­al Woman Suf­frage Alliance in Rome. “A more unpromis­ing place for a Con­gress I nev­er saw,” she wrote, dis­mayed. Maybe despite her­self she reveals that the dif­fer­ences might have been cul­tur­al: “The Ital­ian women could not com­pre­hend our dis­ap­proval.”

The frac­tious, often dis­ap­point­ing, rela­tion­ships between the larg­er inter­na­tion­al women’s suf­frage move­ment, the African Amer­i­can women’s suf­frage move­ment, and most­ly male Civ­il Rights lead­ers in the U.S. are rep­re­sent­ed by the diaries. let­ters, note­books, and speech­es of Mary Church Ter­rell, “a founder of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Col­ored Women. These doc­u­ments shed light on minori­ties’ labo­ri­ous suf­frage strug­gles and her own deal­ings with Civ­il Rights fig­ures like W.E.B. Du Bois.” (Ter­rell became an activist in 1892 and lived to fight against Jim Crow seg­re­ga­tion in the ear­ly 1950s.)

The col­lec­tion includes “some 16,000 his­toric papers relat­ed to the women’s rights move­ment alone.” All of them have been dig­i­tal­ly scanned, and if you’re eager to dig into this for­mi­da­ble archive, you’re in luck. The Library of Con­gress is ask­ing for help tran­scrib­ing so that every­one can read these pri­ma­ry sources of demo­c­ra­t­ic his­to­ry. So far, reports Smith­son­ian, over 4200 doc­u­ments have been tran­scribed, as part of a larg­er, crowd­sourced project called By the Peo­ple, which has pre­vi­ous­ly tran­scribed papers from Abra­ham Lin­coln, Clara Bar­ton, Walt Whit­man, and oth­ers.

Rather than focus­ing on an indi­vid­ual, this project is inclu­sive of what is arguably the main engine of democ­ra­cy: large-scale social movements—paradoxically the most demo­c­ra­t­ic means of claim­ing indi­vid­ual rights. Enter the impres­sive dig­i­tal col­lec­tion “Suf­frage: Women Fight for the Vote” here, and, if you’re moved by civic duty or schol­ar­ly curios­i­ty, sign up to tran­scribe.

via Men­tal Floss

Relat­ed Con­tent:  

The Women’s Suf­frage March of 1913: The Parade That Over­shad­owed Anoth­er Pres­i­den­tial Inau­gu­ra­tion a Cen­tu­ry Ago

Odd Vin­tage Post­cards Doc­u­ment the Pro­pa­gan­da Against Women’s Rights 100 Years Ago

The Library of Con­gress Makes Thou­sands of Fab­u­lous Pho­tos, Posters & Images Free to Use & Reuse

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

Watch an Animated Documentary About the Pioneering Journalist & Feminist Icon Nellie Bly

While no longer a house­hold name, the trail­blaz­ing jour­nal­ist Nel­lie Bly (1864–1922) is def­i­nite­ly an endur­ing Amer­i­can icon.

Her like­ness has graced a postage stamp and a fin­ger pup­pet.

Her life has been the sub­ject of numer­ous books and a made-for-TV movie.

Some hun­dred years after its com­ple­tion, her record-break­ing, 72-day round-the-world trip inspired an episode of The Amer­i­can Expe­ri­ence, a puz­zle-cum-boardgame, and a rol­lick­ing song by his­to­ry fans the Dee­dle Dee­dle Dees.

And now? Meet Nel­lie Bly, car­toon action hero. (Hero­ine? Hard to say which hon­orif­ic the opin­ion­at­ed and for­ward-think­ing Bly, born in 1864, would pre­fer…)

Film­mak­er Pen­ny Lane’s “Nel­lie Bly Makes the News,” above, is not the first to rec­og­nize this sort of poten­tial in the pio­neer­ing jour­nal­ist, whose 151st birth­day was cel­e­brat­ed with an ani­mat­ed Google Doo­dle and accom­pa­ny­ing song by Karen O, but Lane (no rela­tion to Lois, the fic­tion­al reporter mod­eled on you-know-who) wise­ly lets Bly speak for her­self.

Not only that, she brings her into the stu­dio for a 21st-cen­tu­ry inter­view, in which an eye-rolling Bly describes the resis­tance she encoun­tered from the male elite, who felt it was not just unseem­ly but impos­si­ble that a young woman should pur­sue the sort of jour­nal­is­tic career she envi­sioned for her­self.

She also touch­es on some of her most famous jour­nal­is­tic stunts, such as the under­cov­er stints in a New York City “insane asy­lum”and box-mak­ing fac­to­ry that led to exposés and even­tu­al­ly, social reform.

Biog­ra­ph­er Brooke Kroeger and brief glimpses of archival mate­ri­als touch on some of the oth­er high­lights in Bly’s auda­cious, self-direct­ed career.

The car­toon Bly’s hair­do and attire are peri­od appro­pri­ate, but her vocal inflec­tions, cour­tesy of broad­cast reporter and voiceover artist Sam­mi Jo Fran­cis, are clos­er in spir­it to that of Broad City’s Ilana Glaz­er.

(Inter­est­ing to note, giv­en Bly’s com­plaints about how promi­nent­ly the one dress she took on her round the world trip fea­tured in out­side sto­ries about that adven­ture, that dress is a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of The Appre­ci­a­tion of Boot­ed News­women blog. Respect­ful as that site is, the focus there is def­i­nite­ly not on jour­nal­is­tic achieve­ment.)

via Aeon

Relat­ed Con­tent:

New Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty App Cel­e­brates Sto­ries of Women Typ­i­cal­ly Omit­ted from U.S. His­to­ry Text­books

74 Essen­tial Books for Your Per­son­al Library: A List Curat­ed by Female Cre­atives

New Web Project Immor­tal­izes the Over­looked Women Who Helped Cre­ate Rock and Roll in the 1950s

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 9 for anoth­er sea­son of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Women Who Draw: Explore an Open Directory That Showcases the Work of 5,000+ Female Illustrators

The seem­ing­ly nev­er-end­ing era of female artists labor­ing in the shad­ows cast by their male col­leagues is com­ing to a close.

Dit­to the tyran­ny of the male gaze.

Women Who Draw, a data­base of over 5,000 pro­fes­sion­al artists, offers a thrilling­ly diverse panoply of female imagery, all cre­at­ed, as the site’s name sug­gests, by artists who iden­ti­fy as women.

Launched by illus­tra­tors Julia Roth­man and Wendy Mac­Naughton in response to a dis­may­ing lack of gen­der par­i­ty among cov­er artists of a promi­nent magazine—in 2015, men were respon­si­ble for 92%—the site aims to chan­nel work to female artists by boost­ing vis­i­bil­i­ty.

To that end, each illus­tra­tor toss­ing her hat in the ring is required to upload an illus­tra­tion of a woman, ide­al­ly a full body view, on a white back­ground.

The result is an aston­ish­ing range of styles, from an inter­na­tion­al cast of cre­ators.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the major­i­ty of con­trib­u­tors are based on the East Coast of the Unit­ed States, but giv­en the site’s mis­sion to pro­mote female illus­tra­tors of col­or, as well as LBTQ+ and oth­er less vis­i­ble groups, expect to see grow­ing num­bers from Africa, the Caribbean, the Mid­dle East, and Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca.

In addi­tion to indi­cat­ing their loca­tion, artists can check­list their reli­gion, ori­en­ta­tion, and ethnicity/race. (Those who would check“white” or “straight” should be pre­pared to accept that those cat­e­gories are tabled as “WWD encour­ages peo­ple to seek out under­rep­re­sent­ed groups of women.”)

Bean count­ing aside, the per­son­al­i­ties of indi­vid­ual con­trib­u­tors shine through.

Some, like Paris-based Amer­i­can Lau­ra Park, choose explic­it self-por­trai­ture.

Vanes­sa Davis gives the lie to biki­ni sea­son

SouthAsian illus­tra­tor Baani makes an impres­sion, doc­u­ment­ing women of her com­mu­ni­ty even as she rein­ter­prets tropes of West­ern art.

Pé-de-Ovo Stu­dio cor­ners the mar­ket on plushies.

Women Who Draw’s lat­est crowd-sourced project is con­cerned with per­son­al sto­ries of immi­gra­tion.

Final words of encour­age­ment from Lind­sey Andrews, Assis­tant Art Direc­tor for the Pen­guin Young Read­ers Design Group:

Just keep putting your work out there in any form you can think of. Update your var­i­ous social plat­forms reg­u­lar­ly. Mail post­cards of your work. Send emails. Net­work when you can. But, main­ly, do what you love. Even if you have a port­fo­lio full of com­mis­sioned pieces, I still like to see what you cre­ate when you get to cre­ate what­ev­er you want. Also, let me know your process!

Sub­mit your work here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Space of Their Own, a New Online Data­base, Will Fea­ture Works by 600+ Over­looked Female Artists from the 15th-19th Cen­turies

A New Archive Tran­scribes and Puts Online the Diaries & Note­books of Women Artists, Art His­to­ri­ans, Crit­ics and Deal­ers

The Dai­ly Rit­u­als of 143 Famous Female Cre­ators: Octavia But­ler, Edith Whar­ton, Coco Chanel & More

Ven­er­a­ble Female Artists, Musi­cians & Authors Give Advice to the Young: Pat­ti Smith, Lau­rie Ander­son & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC tonight, Mon­day, June 17 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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