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Women’s Firsts

Album Description

A look at historic perceptions from today’s perspective.

In our study of history we often celebrate or recognize individuals or groups who have had their civil rights denied and have overcome that discrimination by becoming one of the “firsts” in a role, job or achievement. 

Students can investigate how the roles and perceptions of women have changed in recent history.  They might start with the selected images below and then expand the investigation to additional primary resources researched in the Library of Congress. Often captions on pictures can also reveal perceptions and discrimination.  What do the words and images show? Ask students:

  • What questions do you have about the images and what they depict? 
  • Where can you find answers to those questions? 
  • How do the captions or titles represent perceptions of the time?

Let student choice drive which images they choose to research.  Although you might offer some prompt questions, also let student questions drive their research (which will increase engagement).  This research based challenge can easily be completed online if students are working from home or in a hybrid model.  

Students can collect additional resources individually or collaboratively and share their research via a number of online tools for reflection and analysis.

Please feel free to add additional resources to this album.

  Women   Suffrage   Civil Rights   bestof 

Secretary of Labor. Washington, D.C., Nov. 27. A new snapshot of Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins leaving the White House after a recent conference with President Roosevelt. 11/27/37

Teaching Notes

First Woman Presidential Cabinet Secretary.  Wonderful blog post on Francis Perkins in Custodia Legis Law Librarians of Congress 11/19/2020 Promoting the General Welfare: Frances Perkins.

 

Reference note

Contributor Names: Harris & Ewing, photographer
Created / Published: [19]37 November 27.
Subject Headings: -  United States--District of Columbia--Washington (D.C.)
Genre: Glass negatives
Notes: -  Title from unverified caption data received with the Harris & Ewing Collection.
-  Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955.
-  General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec
-  Temp. note: Batch five.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Digital Id: hec 23686 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.23686

Vice President of the United States Kamala D. Harris

Teaching Notes

Senate Photo from U.S. Senate Historical Office.

Reminders from the Ceiling Breakers - Recognize Women’s History throughout the Year

Teaching Notes

The posts, blogs and linked websites for Women’s History Month have been powerful and so informative. This Women’s Firsts Alube became a send off for a lesson idea to encourage students to keep Woman’s History learning at the forefront all year. Students can research create and share monthly postcards celebrating Women’s History with primary sources from the Library.  “Reminders from the Ceiling Breakers” is a sampler for “how to” and is uploaded to the Apple Book Store.

  Women’s History  

Vinnie Ream (Hoxie)

Teaching Notes

Vinnie Ream was the first female artist commissioned to create a statue for the United States government. She was only 18 years old when Congress selected her to design the Abraham Lincoln statue for the U.S. Capitol. She also designed the free-standing statue of Sequoyah, donated to the National Statuary Hall Collection in 1917.

What other female artists represented "firsts" in the fields of painting, sculpture, dance, film, political cartooning, composing music, and so on? Students can pick an art category of personal interest and research from there.

  sculpture    Art/Music  

Reference note

Created / Published: [ca. 1870]
Subject Headings: -  Ream, Vinnie,--1847-1914
Genre: Portrait photographs--1860-1880
Glass negatives--1860-1880
Notes: -  Title from unverified information on negative sleeve.
-  Annotation from negative, scratched into emulsion: Vinnie Rean Skulpeter [i.e. sculptor].
-  Sculptress of Lincoln Statue in U.S. Capitol.
-  Credit line: Brady-Handy photograph collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
-  Purchase; Alice H. Cox and Mary H. Evans; 1954.
-  General information about the Brady-Handy photograph collection is available at https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.brhc
-  Forms part of: Brady-Handy photograph collection (Library of Congress).
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA dcu

LOCKWOOD, MISS BELVA ANN BENNETT. LAWYER

Teaching Notes

Belva Lockwood  - the first woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court  - Wonderful history of her contributions can be found in the Custodia Legis Law Librarians of Congress blog “Belva Lockwood and the ‘Legal Disabilities’ of Early Women Lawyers”.

  Lawyer    Women  

 

Reference note

Contributor Names: Harris & Ewing, photographer
Created / Published: 1915.
Genre: Glass negatives
Notes: -  Title from unverified caption data received with the Harris & Ewing Collection.
-  Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955.
-  General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec
-  Temp. note: Batch one.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Digital Id: hec 04797 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.04797

Charlottte E Ray

Teaching Notes

Also referenced in the Custodia Legis Law Librarians of Congress blog “Belva Lockwood and the ‘Legal Disabilities’ of Early Women Lawyers”, Charlotte Ray was the “first Black American woman lawyer in the United States and the first woman admitted to the District of Columbia bar.”

Drawing of Charlotte E. Ray (January 13, 1850 – January 4, 1911), the first African American female lawyer in the United States. Public Domain.

  Women    Lawyer  

CAMPBELL, MRS. PARMLEE [i.e. Permelia] WOMAN MAIL CARRIER. DELIVERING MAIL TO MRS. NELLIE McGRATH

Teaching Notes

The Library of Congress Flickr site is another way to discover images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/  If you follow the Library from your Flickr account you can get notifications when they upload new images to explore.  This one fits nicely into the Women First theme and perfect for discussing the post office and mail delivery.

Reference note

Creator(s): Harris & Ewing, photographer
Date Created/Published: 1917.
Summary: Photograph shows Mrs. Permelia S. Campbell delivering mail to Mrs. Nellie M. McGrath. Campbell and McGrath were the first women to deliver mail in a city in the United States and began work on November 6, 1917 in Washington, D.C. (Source: https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/women-carriers.pdf, "Women Mail Carriers", viewed 2021)
Call Number: LC-H261- 9732 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title from unverified caption data received with the Harris & Ewing Collection. Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955. General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec Temp. note: Batch two.

Female Santas

Teaching Notes

According to this Smithsonian Magazine article “In World War II America, Female Santas Took the Reins” (December 18, 2017).

The Volunteers of America, a charity whose Santa-suited bell ringers raised funds on city street corners, fielded seven female Santas in New York alone including one Mrs. Phoebe Seabrook, a 62-year-old grandmother, described as “five feet tall, weighing 123 pounds.”

Through Chronicling America, I was able to find this article "School for Santa Clauses is Conducted in New York" in the December 7, 1945 issue of the Monitor Leader (Mount Clemens, MI)

Happy Holidays!

"Come to Mother"

Teaching Notes

See blog Library of Congress Picture This Prints and Photos post: Jeannette Rankin: First Woman Elected to Cogress

 

Reference note

Creator(s): Allender, Nina, 1872-1957, artist
Date Created/Published: Mar/19/17 [19 March 1917]
Summary: Drawing for the Suffragist newspaper shows U.S. Representative Jeannette Rankin holding out her arms to a young girl labeled "Susan B. Anthony amendment" as two women look on and say "That child needs a woman to look after her."
Call Number: Unprocessed in PR 13 CN 2020:061, no. 4 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title transcribed from item. Notation on recto: "When Miss Rankin came to Congress." Published in: Suffragist. Washington, D.C. : Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, March 31, 1917, cover. Purchase; National Women's Party; 2020; (DLC/PP-2020:061). Accession box no. PR 13 CN 2020:061, no. 4 (B size)
Subjects: Rankin, Jeannette,--1880-1973. United States.--Constitution.--19th Amendment. Women--Civil rights--1910-1920. Women--Political activity--1910-1920. Legislators--Montana--1910-1920. Women's rights--1910-1920. Women's suffrage--1910-1920.

Amelia Earhart

Teaching Notes

Possible question guide for students:

How might have Amelia Earhart changed the historic perception of women?
 
What additional questions do you have about her role and her accomplishments?
 
What additional research is needed to find the answers to your questions?
 
What thesis statement can you make about Amelia Earhart and the changing perception about women’s roles or accomplishment over time?

  Amelia Earhart  

Reference note

Date Created/Published: c1928.
Summary: Portrait, head and shoulders, facing front.
Call Number: BIOG FILE - Earhart, Amelia [item] [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Notes: Copyright by Underwood and Underwood. This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.

First of fair sex to obtain motorcycle license in Capital. Washington, D.C., Sept. 15. Although she weights only 88 pounds--one-third of the machine she rides, Mrs. Sally Halterman is the first woman to be granted a license to operate a motorcycle in the District of Columbia. She is 27 years old and 4 feet, 11 inches tall. Immediately after receiving her permit, Mrs. Halterman was initiated into the D.C. Motorcycle Club - the only girl ever to be accorded this honor

Teaching Notes

Possible student questions:

What might have prevented women from obtaining a motorcycle license?
 
What additional questions do you have about women and drivers licenses?
 
What additional research is needed to find the answers to your questions?
 
What thesis statement can you make about the changing role or perception of women and motor licenses over time?”

Reference note

Creator(s): Harris & Ewing, photographer
Date Created/Published: [19]37 September 15.
Call Number: LC-H22- D-2354 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title from unverified caption data received with the Harris & Ewing Collection. Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955. General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec Temp. note: Batch five.
Subjects: United States--District of Columbia--Washington (D.C.)

Six members of fair sex now members of National House of Representatives. Washington, D.C., March 6. The election of Mrs. Frances P. Bolton, Ohio, to succeed her late husband, Rep. Chester Bolton, in the House of Representatives brings to a total of six the number of women now serving in that august body. The ladies are evenly divided on political sides, three Republicans and three Democrats. Here's the lineup, left to right: Rep. Frances P. Bolton, Republican of Ohio; Rep. Clara McMillian, Democrat of Tennessee; Rep. Mary T. Norton, Democrat of New Jersey; Rep. Caroline O'Day, Democrat of New York; Rep. Edith N. Rogers, Republican of Mass.; and Rep. Jessie Sumner, Republican of Illinois, 3-6-40

Reference note

Creator(s): Harris & Ewing, photographer
Date Created/Published: [19]40 March 6.
Call Number: LC-H22-D- 8564 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title from unverified caption data received with the Harris & Ewing Collection. Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955. General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec Temp. note: Batch five.
Subjects: United States--District of Columbia--Washington (D.C.).

Conductor Ray Tutle, veteran conductor, instructing women trainmen, a group of the first women employed by the Long Island Railroad to replace trainmen now serving in the nation's armed forces

Reference note

Date Created/Published: 1943.
Call Number: LC-USW3- 034171-C [P&P] LOT 751 (Location of corresponding print.) (corresponding photographic print)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsaowi Temp. note: owibatch5 Film copy on SIS roll 18, frame 1913.
Subjects: United States--New York--Long Island County.

First women chauffeurs of Japan

Reference note

Date Created/Published: c1911.
Summary: Woman in driver's seat of automobile.
Call Number: FOREIGN GEOG FILE - Japan [P&P]
Notes: J226452 U.S. Copyright Office.
Subjects: Firsts--Japan--1910-1920. Automobiles--Japanese--Japan--1910-1920. Chauffeurs--Japan--1910-1920. Women--Employment--Japan--1910-1920.

[Mrs. Bartlett Boder, one of first American women to drive an ambulance in European War, full-length portrait, standing, facing left]

Reference note

Date Created/Published: c1915.
Call Number: BIOG FILE - Boder, Mrs. Bartlett [P&P]
Notes: J207634 U.S. Copyright Office.
Subjects: Boder, Bartlett,--Mrs.

Woman becomes Senior Senator for first time. Washington D.C. July 26. For the first time in the history of the country a woman has become a Senior United States Senator. Through the death of Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson this honor falls to Senator Hattie W. Caraway, Democrat of Arkansas, who is shown in this new informal made at her office today. 7/26/37

Reference note

Creator(s): Harris & Ewing, photographer
Date Created/Published: [19]37 July 26.
Call Number: LC-H22- D-2010 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title from unverified caption data received with the Harris & Ewing Collection. Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955. General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec Temp. note: Batch four.
Subjects: United States--District of Columbia--Washington (D.C.)

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination

Reference note

Creator(s): O'Halloran, Thomas J., photographer
Date Created/Published: 1972 Jan. 25.
Summary: Photograph shows bust portrait of Representative Shirley Chisholm.
Call Number: LC-U9- 25383-33 [P&P] USN&WR COLL - Job no. 25383, frame 33 (corresponding contact sheet)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Notes: Title from contact sheet folder caption. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. Contact sheet available for reference purposes.
Subjects: Chisholm, Shirley,--1924-2005--Political activity. Presidential elections--Washington (D.C.)--1970-1980.

Women in industry. Tool production. Pioneers of the production line, these two young workers are among the first women ever to operate a centerless grinder, a machine requiring both the knowledge of precision measuring instruments, and considerable experience and skill in setting up. In this Midwest drill and tool plant, manned almost exclusively by women, centerless grinders have been efficiently operated by women for more than a year, and company production figures have continued to soar. Republic Drill and Tool Company, Chicago, Illinois

Reference note

Creator(s): Rosener, Ann, photographer
Date Created/Published: 1942 Aug.
Call Number: LC-USE6- D-005718 [P&P] LOT 1982 (corresponding photographic print)
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title and other information from caption card. Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944. More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsaowi Film copy on SIS roll 0, frame 0.
Subjects: United States--Illinois--Cook County--Chicago.

[High school girls learn the art of automobile mechanics. Left to right: Grace Hurd, Evelyn Harrison, and Corinna DiJiulian, with Grace Wagner (under car), at Central High, Wash. D.C.]

Reference note

Date Created/Published: [1927]
Call Number: LOT 12299, v. 1 [P&P]
Notes: National Photo Company Collection. Item in album: v. 1, p. 17, no. 41024.
Subjects: Girls--Washington (D.C.)--1920-1930. Students--Washington (D.C.)--1920-1930. Mechanics (Persons)--Washington (D.C.)--1920-1930. Vocational education--Washington (D.C.)--1920-1930.

First Lady Michelle Obama official portrait

Reference note

Creator(s): Boghosian, Joyce N., photographer
Date Created/Published: 2009 February 18.
Call Number: LC-DIG-ppbd- 00357 (ONLINE) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title and date from file header. Transfer; White House; 2010; (DLC/PP-2010:091)
Subjects: Obama, Michelle,--1964- Presidents' spouses--United States--2000-2010.

Elizabeth Blackwell, 1821-1910, oval bust, wearing wedding veil (Dr. Blackwell was first woman to receive medical degree in US)

Teaching Notes

Elizabeth Blackwell was a British physician, notable as the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.

  Elizabeth Blackwell    Women Physicians  

Reference note

Created / Published: ca. 1877.
Notes: -  Forms part of: Blackwell Family Papers, Manuscript Division.
-  No file print.
-  This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.
-  Caption card tracings: BI; Shelf.
Repository: Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id: cph 3b05666 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b05666