Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Amanda Kozar

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in observance of the American civil rights leader’s birthday (January 15, 1929). Some celebrate Dr. King’s legacy through volunteering. Others take the opportunity to learn or teach about the civil rights movement and this particular leader’s efforts and philosophy.

As a historian, I would be remiss if I did not mention the resources available on the King Center’s website. Whether you are researching Dr. King specifically, the civil rights movement more generally, or specific people in Dr. King’s life (such as Mahalia Jackson or Dora McDonald [1]), you might check out the “Digital Archive” from the King Center. You’ll find digitized documents that give you a taste for what is available in the physical King Library and Archives in Atlanta, GA.

Check it out! Have you been to the King Center or the King Library and Archives? Have you researched the U.S. civil rights movement? Let us know if you have any insights to share!

 

[1] Use the search tool on the Archives webpage, as there are multiple documents available.

Using Government Docs for Women’s History

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Over the course of the last semester, I have spent my time researching the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Harmless, right? Well, a lot of people, particularly Phyllis Schlafly and STOP ERA, begged to differ.

Even so, before the U.S. Senate deliberated on this issue, many women and men had something to say about the Equal Rights Amendment and what it meant for them. Given that this debate happened most notably in the 1970s, it isn’t so easy to access first-person accounts or testimonials of the time about the ERA. So, I looked for the text of the legislative hearings. You can’t get that from the Library of Congress online. The earliest mention of the ERA in the C-SPAN video library is 1980, and that is past the height of the debate. Hearings were however printed in a book available in SLC’s Esther Rauschenbusch Library.

You may not have used it, but there is a vast collection of government documents in our library, which includes that book chronicling the ERA hearings. Our library is part of the Federal Depository Library Program. At SLC, we have several bookcases worth of material, in addition to online guides of digitized materials. So, if you are studying American history, these resources might be useful to you!

As women’s history students, we have been taught to read “’against the grain’” (Bartholomae and Petrosky) because history has often excluded women, girls, people of color, and other people who have been marginalized in multiple and intersecting ways. We have been taught to investigate what has been written about women, for example, and what hasn’t. Where do their stories appear and not appear?

Let’s put that to work with our government documents section. In some cases, we may use government documents for basic information to include in our writing. For instance, we may want to know the population of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1980, and we would look at the U.S. Census for that information. However, as historians, we might also want to question that data. What methods did the U.S. Census Bureau use to get its count? Would these methods have led to the exclusion of X or Y group of people? How would their exclusion from the Census count affect public policy and thus quality of life? What questions did the Census not ask that it should have?

Do yourself a favor and visit the government documents section in the basement of our library. A browsing visit may lead you to documents about which you will raise questions, and you may be inspired to find the answers! Perhaps, those answers will become your master’s thesis!

In addition to bound hearings and reports, you’ll also find maps, videos, discs, and other resources! There’s content that covers substance abuse, NASA, foreign affairs, and the nuclear issue, among other things. Check out some of these interesting finds in the stacks!

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Plant and agricultural reference books, such as Silvics of North America, Volume 1 Conifers and Virus Diseases of Small Fruits

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Federal employment reports, like the Study of Employment of Women in the Federal Government: 1967 and Minority Group Employment in the Federal Government: November 1971.

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Videos from events at the Clinton White House, including Millennium Evenings at the White House: Women as Citizens.

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Copies of the Federal Budget galore!

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Foreign Relations of the United States: Paris Peace Conference, 1919.

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Public Papers of the Presidents: Barack Obama. Read the speeches and remarks of our current president, as printed in these volumes.

 

Get Your Women’s History Podcasts…

By Amanda Kozar

If you’re like me, you are still excited to learn about women’s history even when you’re not in school. If you are stuck on a long car ride or flight, it’s always helpful to have a few podcasts loaded onto your cell phone or tablet.*

These podcasts don’t necessarily have a common theme other than “women’s history,” but I think that you might find something of interest to you here.

Do you have any podcast recommendations? Let us know!

“We Real Cool: The Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks” (The Documentary, 9/30/15)

“Words, Not Swords: Iranian Women and the Freedom Movement” (Farzaneh Milani, Hamid & Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, Stanford University, 5/29/12)

“Conversation with Dorothy Cotton” (American civil rights activist) (Morehouse King Collection Office, 3/18/13)

“The Exemplary Life of Germaine Tillion” (French Resistance activist) (Tzvetan Todorov, Stanford Humanities Center, 7/23/10)

“Lady Liberty” (Latino USA, NPR, 6/19/15)

“Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story” (PBS) (Originally, I heard about Noor Inayat Khan on a podcast, but apparently, it isn’t available anymore!)

*You may need to download the iTunesU app to listen to some of these recordings! Check the instructions for your device.

Planning Any Winter Break Travel?

While you’re on your winter break (if you’re a current student), you might have some free time to travel or just to visit a museum in town. I started making a list of some interesting things to see in the New York area over the break, but I soon wanted to expand it to include other interesting places!

I found quite a few art exhibitions that explore gender and other identit(y)(ies) and/or are created by artists (who happen to be women) that have something interesting to say. I have also included some “permanent” sites that offer perspectives of women’s history.

These sites are all located in the U.S., but I recognize that they may not be close to where you live. If you know of any interesting sites near you, please share them with us in the comments! You might also submit an essay about your experience at a historic site or museum related to gender (email revisionist [at] gm [dot] slc [dot] edu).

I haven’t visited these sites yet, but if you have, give us a shout!

 

The NEW National Museum of African American History & Culture

Where: 1400 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.

 

In Conversation: The Photographs of Alice Austen and Christine Osinski

When: Now – December 23, 2016

Where: Alice Austen House

2 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY

 

Vinok – An Exhibition by Ola Rondiak

When: Now – December 31, 2016

Where: Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago

2249 W. Superior St., Chicago, IL

 

Maria De Los Angeles Exhibition

When: Now-January 6, 2017

Where: El Museo Del Barrio

1230 5th Avenue, New York, NY

 

NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection

When: Now – January 8, 2017

Where: National Museum of Women in the Arts

1250 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

 

Protests in Print

When: Now-January 18, 2017

Where: NYPL – Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

476 5th Avenue, New York, NY

 

Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting

When: Now – March 26, 2017

Where: Asian Art Museum

200 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA

 

A Matter of Fact: Toyin Ojih Odutola – Art Exhibition

When: Now – April 2, 2017

Where: Museum of the African Diaspora

685 Mission St., San Francisco, CA

 

Unconscious Thoughts Animate the World – Art Exhibition

When: Now – May 7, 2017

Where: Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami

1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables, FL

 

Harriet Tubman Home

When: By appointment

Where: 182 South St., Auburn, NY

 

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

Where: 144 Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, D.C.

 

Confluence Project Sites (designed by Maya Lin)

Where: Across Washington and Oregon states

 

Consult the web page of each site for information about cost of admission and open hours and days of the week!

Thinking About Your Options

Once you’re finished with your conference projects and presentations and are headed home for some R&R, maybe you will take some time to think about your future. Perhaps you already have plans for work after you graduate. Maybe you have been efficiently working both to apply for law school or a PhD program while keeping up with this fall’s work. Maybe you’re a first year MA student and are trying to find a summer internship or tossing about thesis topics. Or you could be heading to an archives for some primary source research…

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Visiting the archives.

While you’re thinking about it, I found this interesting post on AHA Today. As MA students, we may be a few years off from this stage of the game, but Caroline Séquin of the University of Chicago tells us how she put her graduate work to use at a feminist journal:

Historians in Training: Interning at an Academic Journal (11/7/2016, AHA Today)
*Image from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (http://ow.ly/BY9I3074mrN)
“TSLAC Behind the Scenes: THF Tours the Texas State Archives 1.17.14”
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode
No changes were made to this image.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt and More…

If you are a current student at SLC, you probably received an email about a part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt that is on campus. You should take the time to check it out before you go on winter break. The lobby of the Performing Arts Center (part of the building closest to Westlands) exhibits it through Tuesday, December 14th.

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AIDS Ribbon on the White House

…And while I have your attention, I wanted to share some links that may be of interest.

Women and HIV/AIDS in the United States (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Grief Knows No Color: Adding Diversity to the AIDS Quilt by Rebecca Gross (NEA Arts Magazine)

Call My Name Workshop Program (The AIDS Quilt)

Mark your calendar: March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

*Photo by White House photographer Chuck Kennedy. (http://ow.ly/phIa3071Wia)

From IIP Archive. Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

No changes were made to the image.

An Appreciation of Gwen Ifill (1955-2016)

I am no journalist, but as someone passionate about government and politics, I considered Gwen Ifill, who died a week ago on Monday, a role model and inspirational figure. This reporter and anchor for the PBS NewsHour impressed upon me the seriousness of each story she told.

In 2008, Gwen Ifill moderated the vice presidential debate between then-Senator Joe Biden and then-Governor Sarah Palin. I knew of her before then, but I don’t consciously remember any particular news stories she had reported. Perhaps that’s a testament to her ability to keep our attention on her subject, not herself. I could put a name with a face though. After that debate, her spirit of skepticism (with a healthy dose of comedy) was immortalized by Queen Latifah in an SNL sketch that is still on a repeating loop in my head.

Ifill hosted Washington Week, a Friday program that wrapped up the week in national politics. By the end of my week, when I wanted to decompress and had access to a TV, I could rely on that show to give me a dose of politics – and not the five pundits yelling at each other kind – that I wanted as a political science student.

I thought it was awesome when Ifill and fellow journalist Judy Woodruff became co-anchors of the NewsHour in 2013. Women taking over the news! Ifill and Woodruff were co-managing editors and decision makers for each night’s newscast! As a woman of color and daughter of immigrants, Ifill remains a role model who shows the importance of determination and hard work in journalism, broadcasting, and writing. This is something that Gwen Ifill took to heart. In an interview with civil rights leader Julian Bond, she said: “…and to this day, when people approach me and tell me that they’re glad to see me on television because they have daughters who see me… that makes my day. That’s what I want to know. The sense of possibility.”

In her acceptance speech for the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award in 2015, Ifill shared some of her beliefs about journalism: “At our best, we are all truth-tellers, although sometimes imperfect ones. At our best, we reject bias and understand that the most dangerous bias is found in the stories we do not tell.” Gwen Ifill helped viewers learn new things and adjust our own lenses when she selected the coverage through her own unique worldview.

In the most basic way, Ifill is important to women’s history by the fact she accomplished a “first.” More importantly, she helped change the symbols of the newscast and anchor. Ifill spoke to this in her interview with Bond. She said she saw herself as “exploding myths about who we are….My presence explodes a lot of notions… about what limitations are.”

For historians, her work matters. In a time when TV news can be loud, theatrical, ideological, and sometimes incendiary, we must be wary of our sources. When we look back on the early 21st century, I hope we’ll view Gwen Ifill’s journalism as a credible, reliable source. As scholars seeking answers, we’ll know that she wasn’t a reporter pitching softball questions to our leaders, and we’ll thank her for asking the questions she did.

Thank you, Gwen Ifill, for your service.

 

Related Links:

PBS NewsHour full episode Nov. 14, 2016

AMERICA AFTER CHARLESTON – Full Program

In WorldCat: The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama

PODCAST: Guest Lectures at Agnes Scott College: “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama”