Browse Exhibits (4 total)

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Patterns of Feminism

What unifies feminists across their history in the U.S.? Is it merely their ties to feminism and its values… or is it something more? Spanning three centuries, Sarah Grimke, Melissa Hield, and Gloria Anzaldua are united through their responses to external social pressures to behave in a prescribed way. Moreover, to behave in a “ladylike” manner or “traditional” way that the historically misogynistic culture of the U.S. has bred. As an inhabitant of the 19th century, Grimke was expected to adhere to the social standards of the time, which required for women to be meek and confined to the domestic sphere. Yet, Grimke, as one of the first American feminists—lecturing others on her “bold” ideas of how abolition and gender equality go hand in hand. In a similar vein, Hield sought out the world of academia and challenged the male-dominated institution. The 70s typically expected women to continue to adhere to domesticity, but instead Hield set her sights on receiving a Ph.D.—something very untypical for a woman within this period. Anzaldua similarly responded to these external patriarchal pressures by questioning the concept of white feminism. Latina women such as Anzaldua were simply not treated the same in a white-majority movement, inducing Anzaldua to fight for her place. All three of these women were exerting their feminist identities in male-dominated spheres. They are all pioneers of their times and reveal that feminism possesses “patterns” that unify women together in more than just beliefs.

In honor of feminism, we chose a pale yellow as the color theme for this exhibit. This sunflower-esque color serves as a reminder of early suffragettes who actively fought to change the male-dominated landscape they lived in. The sunflower pin at the top right of our page actually belonged to Alice Paul, a prominent feminist who happened to join the National Woman’s Party.

After digging around in the archives in search of material over religious communities, Laurie ultimately found a piece of Grimke’s. This eventually led her to Anzaldua, whose works revolved around the very Catholic atmosphere of Latinx culture. On the other hand, I was in search for early feminist works and came across a book covering feminists within Hull House. Turns out this book was written by Melissa Hield, and I ended up requesting her box—finding myself enthralled by her personal journals and story. I hope you find this exhibit just as enthralling.


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Gender Roles in the Public and Private Sphere: Marriage and Reproductive Health

This exhibit aims to explore the concepts of gender identity in both the private and public spheres. Though the materials represented are from vastly different time periods, their thematic congruency still enlightens gender discrepancies within their respective communities. Examining these archival materials through an intersectional lens, we are able to see previously underrepresented narratives and further research and contextualize their roles, themes, and positionings within their time periods.

In this exhibit, I will examine the ways in which reproductive health is conceptualized within a relationship and how the expected gender roles and power dynamics within a relationship alter the accessibility of reproductive health and sexual health for women. I will focus on Latino relationships and culture and examine how power imbalances in a relationship can infringe on the body autonomy of women.

Using "The lavves resolvtions to womens rights" as a jumping-off point, I will seek to examine the role intersex individuals assumed within the early Enlightenment society in England. I will explore both intersex positioning within the resolute gender binary present at the time, while also looking at the ideological shift of intersexual perception within law and medicine. 

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The Birth Control Movement in 1930s America

The birth control movement in the United States began in the early 1900s by many activist groups and individual citizens, such as Margaret Sanger, who founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL), now called Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and coined the term ‘birth control.' During the same time period, Mary Dennet founded the National Birth Control League (NBCL), and pursued legal action to create legal access to contraceptives. 

This exhibit will explore the activism and legality surrounding the birth control movement during the 1930s, as Americans adjusted to the change in status and access around birth control. Legitimate and illegitimate forms of publishing and advertising will be showcased along with the change in legal status of birth control pertaining to the Comstock Law and obscenity laws. The motivations for this movement will be underscored through the exhibit, highlighting eugenics, population control, women's rights, and choice in family planning. 

Artifacts are sourced from lawyer and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) co-founder, Morris Ernst's, personal collection, held at the Harry Ransom Center. Ernst was a civil rights lawyer for the American Birth Control League and other human rights institutions and citizens between 1915-1976. This exhibit will preform as a snapshot of what is preserved and available to study at the Harry Ransom Center pertaining to Ernst, birth control, legality, or women's rights, and the histories Ernst's documents hold. 

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Reclaiming Sexualities: An Exploration of Marginalized Sexuality in the 20th Century

While our project as a whole focuses broadly on America's hidden histories, this exhibit is specifically dedicated to the histories of groups who have been oppressed because of their sexuality or sexual identity. Each of these collections interacts with the idea of reclaiming sexuality through revolutionary empowerment for these marginalized groups, with a particular focus on the experiences of women and queer people.

The colletions are expansive in topic and intersectional in nature. The Morris Ernst papers cover a 1929 court case concerning women's reproductive rights and explore the extensive history of legal figures using moralistic rhetoric to disenfranchise women in 20th century America. The documents that cover "The Great Lesbian Wars" examine class tensions and other issues within the Political Lesbian Movement and broader lesbian community of the transformative 1960s. Meanwhile, the Feminist Zines collection of the 1970s explores the progression of various "waves" of the feminist movement and examines both the strengths and problems of this controversial movement through a display of homemade alternative magazines. Finally, the Noticias collection delves into a narrative about a gay Hispanic community in Houston, Texas during the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis. 

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