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Archive for the ‘Humanities & Social Sciences’ Category

Unknown; Young women holding a sign which reads, 'Self Supporting Women.' Several other women grouped near the banner are holding balls; 1914. This image has been made available by the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Unknown; Young women holding a sign which reads, ‘Self Supporting Women.’ Several other women grouped near the banner are holding balls; 1914. This image has been made available by the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating women who shaped the political and social landscape of America with a tour of an expansive photographic archive documenting their experiences.

The Schlesinger History of Women in America collection contains 36,000 images from the archives of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library at Harvard University. The Schlesinger Library’s collections encompass women’s rights and feminism, health and sexuality, work and family life, education and the professions, and culinary history and etiquette. It documents women’s experiences in America between the 1840s and 1990s and is sourced from donations made to the library, including the papers of many prominent female activists, politicians, and leaders. In making the stories of women’s lives available to all, the library combats assumptions that women’s roles have been tangential in the course of American history.

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Frederic Edwin Church, The Icebergs, 1861. Image and original data provided by the Dallas Museum of Art

Frederic Edwin Church, The Icebergs, 1861. Image and original data provided by the Dallas Museum of Art

The search for the Northwest passage, an arctic maritime route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, drove European exploration of the North for hundreds of years. The search was exceedingly treacherous–pack ice, the floating ice covering the sea, made arctic waters impassable throughout most of the year and explorers perished in harsh conditions–but the danger and beauty of the unknown North enchanted an adventure-hungry public. Artists were similarly enamored, creating resplendent paintings that represented a sublime view of an Arctic that has gradually crumbled (or more accurately, melted) over the past century as global warming wreaks havoc on the icy seas.

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Sample lesson plansHearing the call from Artstor teachers for sample lesson plans, we revisited some favorite lessons from our teaching days and borrowed from JSTOR Daily and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s School and Teacher Program. The results, covering a variety of subject areas and grade levels, can be found in Artstor’s Teaching Resources.

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Roger Fenton, Hardships in the Camp, 1855. Image courtesy of George Eastman House www.eastmanhouse.org

Roger Fenton, Hardships in the Camp, 1855. Image courtesy of George Eastman House www.eastmanhouse.org

When it comes to modern warfare, we’ve seen so much through photographs: mass graves, explosions, the faces of soldiers the instant they’re shot. And we’ve also seen the aftermath of war–devastated landscapes, soldiers carrying their dead, and returning home to their families. We’ve become accustomed to a depth of visual coverage that has brought deep familiarity with the realities of war from start to finish, a stark contrast to the experience of civilian audiences prior to the advent of photography. (more…)

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Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956

Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956. Cornell University Library, Rare & Manuscript Collections, Susan H. Douglas Political Americana Collection

Take a deep breath, the presidential debates are finally over. But brace yourselves, we still have a couple of weeks of campaigning left until the actual elections. Why the negative tone? Well, the Washington Post reported that “59 percent of Americans are sick and tired of the election”–and that was way back in July! And we’re not just sick and tired, we’re also stressed: in a more recent poll by the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults said the upcoming election is a significant source of stress.

Can we interest you in a tour of more innocent days from Cornell University’s Political Americana Collection in Shared Shelf Commons? Days in which campaigns featured such lighthearted items as songs like “Grant is the Man,” promoting Ulysses S. Grant, or “Let’s O-K, I-K-E,” about Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.

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Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company; The Ghost in the stereoscope; 1856 - 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl

Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company. The Ghost in the stereoscope, 1856 – 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: http://www.rijksmuseum.nl

In 1862, amateur photographer William H. Mumler of Boston took a self-portrait in his studio, unaware of a ghostly apparition lurking directly behind him. It wasn’t until he viewed the resulting image of a pellucid arm draped casually across his shoulder that he realized the camera must have exposed the lingering spirit of his deceased cousin. With this eerie, novel image, Mumler, a jewelry engraver by trade, became the first of many photographers to claim having photographed a spirit. Photographs like Mumler’s provided timely evidence that spirits of the deceased freely interacted with the world of the living–a discovery he would milk for profit within the framework of the Spiritualist movement.

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 Southworth & Hawes, Early Operation Using Ether for Anesthesia, late spring 1847. Image and original data provided by The J. Paul Getty Museum

Southworth & Hawes, Early Operation Using Ether for Anesthesia, late spring 1847. Image and original data provided by The J. Paul Getty Museum

In 1846, dentist William T. G. Morton assembled a group of doctors in the operating theater at Massachusetts General Hospital, a sky-lit dome located on the hospital’s top floor. As the doctors watched from the dome’s stadium seating, Morton waved a sponge soaked in a mysterious substance called Letheon inches from his patient’s face. The patient quickly lost consciousness and remained completely still as a surgeon removed a tumor from his neck. Upon waking, the patient declared to his astonished audience that he had felt no pain. This surgery marked the first time the effective and safe use of anesthesia was demonstrated publicly, ending centuries of agonizing pain during surgery. It would also quickly spiral into a dramatic controversy surrounding Letheon’s discovery.

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