NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY CELEBRATES WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
Exhibitions, Special Installations, Conversations, and Family Activities Shine Light
on Women’s Impact on American History
New York, NY, February 22, 2019 – In honor of Women’s History Month, the New-York Historical Society invites visitors to explore the lives and legacies of women who have shaped and continue to shape the American experience in a series of exhibitions, special installations, insightful conversations, and the annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History, which this year looks at the history of prohibition. Programs throughout March delve into a range of topics, including the legacy of female artists like Betye Saar, “women’s only” buildings in the early 20th century, the activism that grew out of the labor and women’s movements, and women “you wish you’d heard of” from various points in American history. Families can also meet historical figures, like Harriet Tubman and suffragists, portrayed by Living Historians as history comes to life each weekend.
Ninety-Nine Years Since Prohibition
he Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History
March 3, morning and afternoon sessions
Free, advance registration required
The Center for Women’s History presents the fourth annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History, the cornerstone of the Center’s suite of public and scholarly programs. This year, the conference explores the history of Prohibition 100 years after the ratification of the 18th Amendment, which banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in the United States.
Prohibition began on January 20, 1920. For some women and men, this represented the culmination of decades of struggle for temperance, a movement that promised to protect women and families from alcoholism. Many others challenged the new laws, particularly in New York City, where the patrons of speakeasies and ballrooms not only ignored Prohibition, but also transgressed boundaries of gender, race, and sexuality. The Roaring Twenties also witnessed the dramatic growth of law enforcement, as efforts to control the consumption of alcohol led to new kinds of urban policing which themselves generated new forms of inequality. One thing was for certain—by the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933, it had transformed the nation.
Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean
Now through May 27, 2019
Contemporary artist Betye Saar has shaped the development of assemblage art in the United States, particularly as a device to illuminate social and political concerns. A key figure in the Black Arts Movement and the feminist art movement of the 1960–70s, Saar’s distinct vision harmonizes the personal and the political. Over the years, Saar has transformed the representation of African Americans in our culture by recycling and reclaiming derogatory images such as Aunt Jemimas, Uncle Toms, sambos, and mammies to confront the continued racism in American society and create representations of strength and perseverance. This exhibition focuses on one facet of her work—washboards—created between 1997 and 2017. Presented in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, part of the Center for Women’s History, the exhibition is organized by the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles.
Gallery of Tiffany Lamps
As the centerpiece of the transformed fourth floor, regarded as one of the world’s largest and most encyclopedic, the Museum’s Gallery of Tiffany Lamps features 100 illuminated Tiffany lamps, displayed within a dramatically lit jewel-like space. The hidden history behind the lamps offers a fascinating look at the contributions of women in the creation of this art. Louis C. Tiffany (1848–1933) was the artistic genius behind Tiffany Studios. However, he was not the exclusive designer of its lamps, windows, and luxury objects: Clara Driscoll (1861–1944), head of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department from 1892 to 1909, has recently been revealed as the designer of many of the firm’s leaded glass shades. Driscoll and her staff, self-styled the “Tiffany Girls,” labored in anonymity but were well compensated. Driscoll’s weekly salary of $35 was on par with that of Tiffany’s male designers, a reflection of his regard for her abilities. The lamps in this exhibition reflect the prodigious talent of designers and artisans who worked in anonymity to fulfill Tiffany’s aesthetic vision.
Signs of Progress
March 1 – March 31, 2019
Throughout history, women and their supporters have marched for cultural progress, proudly voicing messages of optimism and empowerment that come to life through the incredible signs they proudly hold. In honor of Women’s History Month, New-York Historical and Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker unveil Signs of Progress, a special installation that echoes the messages of this movement. On view through March 31, this commemorative display features signs preserved from women’s marches across the nation and celebrates the many achievements of women as a symbol of empowerment for everyone on the journey towards gender equality.
JOHNNIE WALKER BLACK LABEL THE JANE WALKER EDITION Blended Scotch Whisky. 40% Alc/Vol. Imported by Diageo, Norwalk, CT.
Ladies’ Garments, Women’s Work, Women’s Activism
On view through July 21, 2019
The story of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union and its role in shaping women’s activism is explored through garments, objects, documents, and photographs in this special installation, on view in the Jean Dubinsky Appleton Women and Labor Exhibition Case at our Center for Women's History. For nearly 200 years, women from across the globe have labored in New York’s garment industry. The unions they organized—particularly the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU)—are some of the most important organizations of women in U.S. history. The ILGWU fought for recognition and protection for women workers on the job and reimagined how a union could serve workers and their communities beyond the factories. Women organizers in the ILGWU pioneered modern worker benefits and inspired social welfare programs in education, health, recreation, and legal aid. Through their work, the ILGWU and its women organizers also shaped women’s movements across the 20th century, from the suffrage movement of the 1910s to the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.
On view through May 27, 2019
Unregulated “patent medicines” were big business before the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 forced manufacturers to list ingredients. Limited birth control and illegal abortion drove women to buy pills and powders that promised to “restore and regulate menstrual function.” Meanwhile syrups secretly loaded with alcohol and morphine were sold to mothers, who were persuaded that happy babies were quiet. This small installation shows how these products were shrewdly marketed to women desperate to conform to social rules.
PUBLIC PROGRAMS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
Women You Wish You’d Heard About: Native Responses to Colonization, 1492-1700
Monday, March 4, 6:30 pm
Beginning in 1492, Native women across North America encountered waves of European armies and settlers who disrupted their way of life and threatened their survival. You’ll learn the stories of how individual women across the continent responded to the crisis of colonization, and how their actions shaped relations between Native and European communities in the centuries to come. This program is part of our Back in Class series. At each session, led by a museum educator, dive deep into riveting topics in American history through exhibition tours, original documents from our archive, and illuminating discussions with fellow classmates. (The best part—no tests or grades!)
Madame Fourcade and the French Resistance Against Hitler
Lynne Olson, Stanley Cloud
Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 pm
$38 (Members $24)
Discover the almost unbelievable story of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, the leader of the largest spy network in France during World War II. She was captured by the Nazis twice and escaped both times, and her agents provided the Allies with some of the most crucial intelligence of the war, including a 55-foot-long map of the beaches and roads used for the landing on D-Day.
Women and the White House
Carol Berkin, Cokie Roberts, Gil Troy, Lesley Stahl
Wednesday, March 6, 6:30 pm
From Martha Washington and Abigail Adams to the present day, women have wrought enormous influence on the U.S. government. Experts celebrate how women have affected the executive branch and how their roles have influenced the American republic as a whole.
Pat and Mike Film Screening
Introduced by Annette Gordon-Reed, Robert R. Reed, Ron Simon, Dale Gregory
Friday, March 8, 7 pm
In this Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy gem from 1952, a star athlete refuses to give up her chance at championship titles despite her fiancé’s insistence that she quit her promising sports career to marry him. Directed by George Cukor. Starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Aldo Ray. 95 min.
Women You Wish You’d Heard About: Picturing Women in the Early Colonial Era
Monday, March 11, 6:30 pm
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but how exactly do you read one? We’ll examine art produced during and about the early colonial era for clues about the lives of women during that time, and then explore further resources that enrich the world view these pieces portray. This program is part of our Back in Class series. At each session, led by a museum educator, dive deep into riveting topics in American history through exhibition tours, original documents from our archive, and illuminating discussions with fellow classmates. (The best part—no tests or grades!)
All the Single Ladies: “Women’s Only” Buildings in Early 20th-Century New York
Wednesday, March 13, 5:30 pm
$10 ($5 Landmark West Members)
Join historian Nina Harkrader for a discussion of “all the single ladies” who bravely forged new paths for women in early 20th-century New York City. We'll explore the women’s only homes designed to offer “good moral surroundings” for young ladies, the hotels that provided independence and lady-like comforts for “business women,” and a taste of what it might have been like to make one’s way through New York City in the heady, early years of the 1900s. Refreshments will be served.
Labor and the Black Body: The Slave Ship Icon in the Work of Betye Saar
Cheryl Finley, Wendy Ikemoto
Friday, March 15, 6:30 pm
$15 | Free for Members of the Women’s History Council
The washboard assemblages of Betye Saar—currently on view in Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean—feature several recurring themes and images from African American history. Among these is the iconic print of the slave ship Brookes, first circulated by British abolitionists in 1788 and now recognized worldwide as symbol of the barbaric reality of slavery. Cheryl Finley, author of Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon joins curator Wendy Ikemoto for a conversation about the place and power of this icon in the work of Betye Saar and beyond. There will be a book signing following the program with the author. Refreshments will be served.
First: Sandra Day O’Connor
Evan Thomas, Akhil Reed Amar
Monday, March 18, 6:30 pm
$44 (Members $32)
America’s first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court was confirmed in 1981, and in the quarter century that followed, her vote helped to reaffirm the core holding of Roe v. Wade and declare victory for the Bush presidential campaign against Al Gore. Join us as we explore the trailblazing career of Sandra Day O’Connor, whose decisions continue to influence us today.
Women You Wish You’d Heard About: Suffrage and Fighting for (and Against) the Vote, 1889-1920
Monday, March 18, 6:30 pm
The rise of social reform in the Progressive Era breathed fresh life into a movement that had faced steep opposition for decades. Learn about the diverse women who fought for (and against) suffrage and reflect on the importance and lingering questions of the Nineteenth Amendment’s passing. This program is part of our Back in Class series. At each session, led by a museum educator, dive deep into riveting topics in American history through exhibition tours, original documents from our archive, and illuminating discussions with fellow classmates. (The best part—no tests or grades!)
Franklin and Eleanor
Blanche Wiesen Cook, Douglas Brinkley
Thursday, March 21, 7 pm
$38 (Members $24) | Students $10
Award-winning Eleanor Roosevelt biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook, in conversation with Douglas Brinkley, explores the close and sometimes contentious relationship between America’s longest-serving First Lady and one of the nation’s most revered presidents.
Reconfiguring the Past: Nell Painter in conversation with Valerie Paley
Friday, March 22, 6:30 pm
$15 | Free for Members of the Women’s History Council
After a distinguished career as a historian, Nell Painter—the Edwards Professor Emerita of American History at Princeton—became a visual artist. “Using found images and digital manipulation,” Painter writes, “I reconfigure the past and revision myself through self-portraits. After a life of historical truth and political engagement with American society, my artwork represents freedom.” Painter joins Valerie Paley, chief historian and director of the Center for Women’s History, for a conversation about her own practice and the intersection of art and history.
Women You Wish You’d Heard About: Labor Rights and Activism
Monday, March 25, 6:30 pm
On the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, learn about activist women who fought for safety and equality in the workplace. Through strikes, unionization, and lawsuits these fierce women helped protect workers in a changing America. This program includes a visit to the special installation Ladies’ Garments, Women’s Work, Women’s Activism. Plus, make your own buttons for equality! This program is part of our Back in Class series. At each session, led by a museum educator, dive deep into riveting topics in American history through exhibition tours, original documents from our archive, and illuminating discussions with fellow classmates. (The best part—no tests or grades!)
What the History?!: Deviant Female Dining
Thursday, March 28, 7 – 8:30pm
Explore the role of Chinese restaurants as a site of rebellion and self-expression for the women of New York with New-York Historical Society Fellow Heather Lee. Discover the social history of Chinese restaurants in New York and how they provided a space of freedom and possibility for women. A Q&A session will follow. Ages 21 and up. Wine included with ticket.
Ladies’ Garments, Women’s Work, Women’s Activism: Garment Work and Women’s Organizing in New York City
Friday, March 29, 6:30 pm
$15 ($12 Members)
The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) was once the largest union of women in the world, with tens of thousands of members in New York City alone. Generations of women workers and organizers in New York fought for recognition and protection for workers on the job, and reimagined what unions could do beyond the factories. In honor of women’s history month, and the Triangle Fire anniversary, the Center for Women’s History welcomes Janette Gayle of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Margaret M. Chin of Hunter College, and Alice Kessler-Harris, chair of the Center’s Scholarly Advisory Board to discuss the ILGWU’s impact on the labor movement and women’s movements. This program is moderated by Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoal Fellow Nick Juravich and presented in combination with the special installation Ladies’ Garments, Women’s Work, Women’s Activism, now on view in the Jean Dubinsky Appleton Women and Labor Exhibition Case. Refreshments will be served.
Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean Docent-Led Gallery Tour
Wednesday, March 13, 3 pm – 4 pm
Adult $26, Senior $21, Member $5: Includes Museum Admission
A key figure in the Black Arts Movement and the feminist art movement of the 1960–70s, contemporary artist Betye Saar has shaped the development of assemblage art in the United States, using her distinct vision to harmonize the personal and the political. Recycling and reclaiming derogatory images such as Aunt Jemimas, Uncle Toms, sambos, and mammies, Saar confronts the continued racism in American society and creates representations of strength and perseverance. On this docent-led tour, discover the washboard as a symbol of the unresolved legacy of slavery and the subsequent oppressive systems facing black Americans today, particularly black women. Ticket includes Museum Admission.
Living History: Founding Black Harlem
Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3, 12 pm – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
This weekend, visit early 20th-century Harlem and chat with its leading residents! In conjunction with Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, meet Living Historians portraying Madam C.J. Walker, the women she trained in her salon school, and other movers and shakers, like soldiers from the 369th Regiment, who came to be known as the Harlem Hellfighters in the First World War. Learn about Walker’s life as a successful businesswoman selling hair products and creating hair styles (she became a millionaire from it!) and explore the life of Vertner W. Tandy, who served with the Harlem Hellfighters and became New York’s first black registered architect!
Living History: Meet Harriet Tubman
Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, 12 pm – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
In celebration of the opening of Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean and in conjunction with our exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, meet Living Historians who portray Harriet Tubman and other self-liberated people of African descent who, like those depicted by Betye Saar, strongly defied racial oppression in the 19th century. Learn more about Tubman’s accomplishments before, during, and after the American Civil War and Reconstruction, ask questions about how she and her associates used the Underground Railroad to free themselves, and discover the tales, tools, and techniques of how Tubman and many emancipated people evaded capture and found their way north.
Reading into History Family Book Club: Zora & Me
Sunday, March 10, 2 pm – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
Recommended for ages 9–12
Celebrate Women’s History Month with our Reading into History Family Book Club! Coretta Scott King Award-winning authors Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon join us to discuss their fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood, Zora & Me. After discussion and Q&A with the authors, we’ll tour our exhibition Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean, on view in our Center for Women’s History.
Living History: Votes for Women!
Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17, 12 pm – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
Join us to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment—passed by Congress in 1919! Meet Living Historians portraying suffragists from the early 20th century who helped win the right to vote for women across the nation. Listen to stories about their contributions to the battle for the ballot, take a close look at their 1900s wardrobe and special parade accessories, and discover what it was like to canvass the city for voters. You’ll even make a pin-on suffrage cockade to show your support!
Living History: Meet Madam C.J. Walker
Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24, 12 pm – 4 pm
Free with Museum Admission
Visit early 20th-century Harlem and chat with one of its leading residents, Madam C.J. Walker! Ask her questions and meet Living Historians portraying the African American women she trained at her Harlem brownstone to open their own salons. Take an up-close look at the hair products Walker sold, get hands-on with turn-of-the-century styling tools, and discover how Madam C.J. Walker became a millionaire.