poster of Adam Forepaugh & Sells Brothers circus acts

Iron-Jawed Angels: Circus Suffragists and the Fight for the Vote

By Rebecca Hopman On Sunday, March 31, 1912, a group of women gathered in the animal menagerie at Madison Square Garden to inaugurate a new group: Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Women’s Equal Rights Society. These circus suffragists – among them aerialists, equestriennes, strongwomen, and tightrope walkers – had joined the fight for the vote. At the meeting, well-known bareback rider Josephine DeMott Robinson reminded attendees, … Continue reading Iron-Jawed Angels: Circus Suffragists and the Fight for the Vote

sepia photograph of two itinerant glassworkers behind a table of their goods

Stepping into the Spotlight: Women Itinerant Glassworkers

By Rebecca Hopman The orphans from the Home of the Friendless filed into the Metropolitan Rink in orderly rows, staring at the wonders displayed before them. Glass sparkled from every surface, shaped like ships and birds and little men and women. A steam engine made of colorful glass spun and whirred next to a model of a derrick bobbing for non-existent oil. In the center … Continue reading Stepping into the Spotlight: Women Itinerant Glassworkers

painting of pilgrims and indians sitting down to eat at the first Thanksgiving

Dismantling the Thanksgiving Myth with Children’s and YA Literature

By Rebecca Hopman It’s that time of year when many elementary school kids across the United States don capotains, buckle boots, headdresses, and moccasins to celebrate Thanksgiving. Cue the romanticized and often derogatory imagery of Native Americans, the tidy and tired story of the Pilgrims and Indians where “everyone gets along [and] everyone gets to eat.” [1] Earlier this month, Sidney Wegener wrote about “Why … Continue reading Dismantling the Thanksgiving Myth with Children’s and YA Literature

Black and white photograph of three women standing amongst bushes and trees

Lydia’s Diaries: Uncovering Women’s History in the Archives

By Rebecca Hopman “Topsy’s Journal. Strictly private!” So begins Lydia Olsson’s diary. Olsson was an early female student at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, and the five diaries now held by Augustana Special Collections document her life on campus. I encountered Olsson’s diaries in the archives nearly a decade ago, and reading them changed my path in life. In the summer of 2010, I … Continue reading Lydia’s Diaries: Uncovering Women’s History in the Archives