Tag Archives: society

Cycling, Walking, and Health Conscious Fashion

As May is National Bicycle Month, we thought we would offer some drop-in lesson ideas that included the bicycle!

Just as bloomers earlier in the century caused a ruckus, so to did the riding costumes of the bicycle era. Explore changes to women’s attire and how that corresponded to other movements such as the women’s rights movement, technological advancements, and efforts to improve health and wellness.  Check out these historical Fashion Magazines from the Library of Congress.

Ad for Sear’s Catalogue, Women’s bicycle suits, 1897.


Ad for Eureka Health Corset, 1880.


“Road Queen”


Leisure Time and Entertainment

As May is National Bicycle Month, we thought we would offer some drop-in lesson ideas that included the bicycle!

Wild West Shows, circus acts, and spectator sports such as baseballfootball, and tennis filled leisure time at the end of the nineteenth century. The Barnum & Bailey Shows even began to highlight cycling in their acts.

Try this lesson plan from EDSITEment! for ideas on “Having Fun” nineteenth century style. Or this issue of “Central Illinois Teaching With Primary Sources Newsletter” all about the circus.

National Bicycle Exhibition, Madison Square Garden, 1895.


Poster: Professional cycling, 1905.


Cartoon: Tennis and women in the 1870s.


Poster for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, “Annie Oakley and Johnnie Baker” 1898


Bike Your Way Through May

National Bike Month is halfway over, but there is still time to join in!  This week we bring you ideas for “drop-in” lessons or ways to incorporate this fun and approachable topic into your classroom.

Engage students in a discussion of technological advancements of the 19th century. With the communication and transportation revolution coupled with the emergence of the factory and more sophisticated farming equipment, how did these changes transform life for ordinary citizens? See this lesson from EDSITment! for suggestions on activities and documents. For more primary sources on the early bicycle visit “Gearing Up for Bike Month with Primary Sources” from the Library of Congress.

Saturday Evening Post ad for National Bicycle Week, “This is happiness week” 1921

Ad for Columbia Bicycle Co., Hi-Wheeler, 1886.

“Washington Meet of the League of American Wheelmen” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 1884.




Women's Rights Movement

Women’s Rights Movement Series, part 1

The first week of our Women’s History Series focuses on the Women’s Rights Movement from 1848-1920.

Cartoon: “The Discord,” 1865, a marriage dispute over who wears the pants.
Husband: “Rather die! than let my wife have my pants. A man ought to always be the ruler.”
Wife: “Sam’y help me! Woman is born to rule and not to obey those contemptible creatures called men!”


Beginning with the Seneca Falls convention of 1848 and culminating in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, women fought publicly for increased rights in the public and private sphere. Abigail Adams foreshadowed the beginning of the movement in 1776 in a  letter to her husband John Adams serving in the Continental Congress,

Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

72 years later at Seneca Falls, NY, a coalition of women gathered to craft the “Declaration of Sentiments.” This document proclaimed that “all men and women are equal.”  The 18 “repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman” listed by the authors of the Declaration began by highlighting the lack of civic participation and ended with accusations that “He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.”  This document clearly defines the demands of women’s rights advocates and highlights the areas they would come to fight for well into the twentieth century: voting rights, marriage equality, employment opportunities, access to education, and ability to lead an independent life.

Stay turned the rest of this week for more documents, cartoons, and images to help students understand the early Women’s Rights Movement.

An excellent source for women’s history in the US is Ellen DuBois and Lynn Dumenil’s Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents.

Through Women’s Eyes by Ellen DuBois and Lynn Dumnel

Check out the remainder of the posts in this series:

Bloomers” part 2

Anti-Suffrage Cartoons” part 3

The 19th Amendment” part 4

Teaching the Women’s Rights Movement” part 5

Let's Go Shopping…19th Century Style!

As the holiday season gets into full swing, engage student’s shopping preoccupation with nineteenth century department store ads and photographs.  The Marchand Archive holds dozens of intriguing posters that will get students thinking about the differences between department stores then and now.

Take for example this 1885 ad for Hill Brothers Millinery Goods storeroom.  Perhaps students notice how well dress the shoppers are.  Maybe they recognize that all the sales associates are men.  Or even, notice the differences and similarities with today’s stores layout of goods.  No matter what draws them in, they will soon forget they are engaging in a historical conversation!

Ad poster for Hill Brothers Millinery Goods salesroom interior, New York City, 1885

Search here for more examples!


Draft Riots of 1863 Reveal Class Tensions & Opposition to War

Luci Petlack, graduate student in the History department at U.C. Davis, shares her thoughts about “Draft Riots on Lexington Avenue, New York City,” from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newsletter.

This image depicts a scene during the July 1863 New York City Draft Riots where white rioters attacked the homes of abolitionists, set fire to the Colored Orphan Asylum and brutally assaulted black individuals. These rioters targeted symbols of Republican Party rule who they viewed as the instigators of the war. Numbers vary, but scholars estimate about 500 deaths (mostly rioters) and well over $1 million property damage.

Two years into a war that Americans, North and South, thought would end in a few months, the Union government turned to the draft to enlist more men in their army. The Conscription Act that began the draft allowed individuals to pay a $300 bounty for a replacement. For members of the working class, $300 was about one year’s salary making the bounty out of their reach. The draft itself upset many people, but riots exploded in the summer of 1863 because of the class tensions the bounty exacerbated. Workers, many of them immigrants, felt the rich men of the North, namely Republicans, were using the lives of the poor to fight the war. Newspapers around the country covered these draft riots with the same interest as many of the battles during the war.

This image is great for learning and teaching about the American Civil War for a few reasons. The Civil War immediately brings battlefields and generals to mind. This image shows the oft-neglected home front. Interestingly, it wasn’t just on the fields of Gettysburg and Vicksburg that violence emerged because of the war. By this point in the war, violence had become the norm, regardless of an individual’s status as soldier or civilian. The whole country was truly involved. Second, this image shows that there were northerners opposed to the war. Oftentimes students create a dichotomy between the slave-owning South and the abolitionist North – a split that never existed. It is important for students and teachers to understand the complicated tapestry of sentiments during the war.

Further Reading:

  • Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990). Bernstein argues that the riots were an effort of working-class individuals to assert their power against their competition (black laborers) and against members of the higher classes.
  • Adrian Cook, The Armies of the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots of 1863, (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1974). Cook portrays the insurrection as an outburst by the lower classes against government control.
  • James McCague. The Second Rebellion: The Story of the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. (New York: Dial Press, 1968). McCague believes that Irish struck out at rich whites and blacks with a comparable hatred, expressing their dissatisfaction with labor opportunities and chances for success.
  • Jack Tager, Boston Riots: Three Centuries of Social Violence (Northeastern University Press, 2001), 133-139. This short section provides details of the draft riots in Boston.

Luci Petlack is a doctoral candidate in the History Department at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests include black American history, race relations and the American Civil War. Her dissertation, “A Dilemma of Civil Liberties: Blacks under Union Military Control, 1861-1866,” looks at the effects of military occupation and martial law on black communities during the Civil War in Baltimore, Maryland; New Orleans, Louisiana and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Religion and Noble Families in Late Medieval Society

We are pleased to bring you another post from Shennan Hutton, author of Women and Economic Activities in Late Medieval Ghent, on the Book of Hours of Catherine of Clèves:

About the image: This beautiful example of late medieval manuscript illumination is the front page of the Book of Hours made for Catherine of Clèves, the Duchess of Guelders and Countess of Zutphen.  All of these small territories are now in the nation of The Netherlands, but in the 15th century, when this book of hours was prepared, they were semi-independent principalities under the loose rule of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Shennan’s Insights: I like to use this image in teaching to highlight two themes about late medieval religion and society.  The first theme relates to late medieval religion.  This book was produced around 1440, which is approximately 80 years before Martin Luther wrote the Ninety-Five Theses and set off the Reformation (1517).  In addition to anti-clericalism and dislike for the abuses of the church, such as indulgences, one of the major precursors of the Reformation was the laicization of spirituality.  This awkward nominalization – laicization – means that lay people (that is, not clergy) were practicing spirituality outside of church activities.  They were making their spiritual lives more personal and private, and integrating spiritual objects and practices into their daily lives.  This front page illustrates the laicization of spirituality.  Catherine owned this book which included prayers for different hours of day, and for different days of the year.  The book made it possible for her to worship in her room, and not only in the chapel of her castle.  She could worship by herself, without the intervention of clergy.  In the illumination, Catherine is “entering” the space surrounding the Virgin and the Child.  It is an intimate setting of worship.

The second theme relates to noble families.  In addition to private devotion, Catherine would have likely prominently displayed this book to noble visitors.  Everyone knew that it had been enormously expensive, which would add to Catherine’s prestige, and that of her husband, Arnold, Duke of Guelders.  On the bottom in the center are Catherine’s coat of arms combined with that of her husband.  In the four corners (and the four corners of the next page) are the coats of arms of her great-grandfathers.  Noble families displayed their honor through expensive clothing and objects, and their “noble blood” by coats of arms.

Shennan Hutton is a Program Coordinator for the California History Social Science Project. She taught world history in high school for 15 years, before entering the graduate program at UC Davis.  She earned a Ph.D. in medieval European history in 2006.  She teaches medieval, European and world history at various colleges and universities, as well as promoting K-16 collaboration at the California History-Social Science Project. You can read more from Shennan at Blueprint for History Education.

What does it mean to "Keep within compass?"

Keep within Compass

Title:  “Keep within compass,” 1785-1805

About the image: Contemporary English print advising women to “Keep within compass.”

Suggestions for Using this Image in the Classroom:

This image could spur a class discussion about how society viewed women at the turn of the eighteenth century.  After having students engage in a close observation of it lead the class in a discussion of the following:

  • What do you see outside of the circle? What stands out to you?
  • What is a compass, what is it used for, and what does it mean to “Keep within Compass?”
  • What does this image suggest about societal expectations of women in the late 1700s and early 1800s?
  • Expand the discussion by looking at similar images that include men found here or by finding other examples of the use of the proverb “Keep within compass.”
  • Compare the image with ones from later time periods and discuss what has changed in the way society defines the roles of it’s members.
  • Ask students to create a drawing interpreting their modern day compass.

For more on women’s roles in society during the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century see the resources in the National Humanities Center Toolbox Library .

Related Topics/Themed Collections: Eighteenth Century, Women in the Revolution

Related Lessons in the Marchand Collection:

  • Women Outside the Compass 1880-1922 by Sarah Scheeline, ONLINE – AVAILABLE ON THE HISTORY PROJECT WEBSITE
  • The Lowell Mills & the Women Who Worked There by Pamela Tindall, IN PRINT – AVAILABLE ONLY IN THE MARCHAND LIBRARY
  • Northern Reform Communities’ Town Hall Meeting by Jeff Pollard, IN PRINT – AVAILABLE ONLY IN THE MARCHAND LIBRARY

Related  Resources Available in the Marchand Collection:

  • Nancy Woloch, Women and the American Experience
  • Miriam Gurko, The Ladies of Seneca Falls: The Birth of the Woman’s Rights Movement

Share your ideas! How would you use this image? Let us know here.

Deconstructing "The Mystery of 1920"

A well-dressed young woman enters “Voting Booth No. 1.”

A well-dressed young woman enters “Voting Booth No. 1.”

Title:  “The Mystery of 1920,” Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, cover, September 11, 1920.

About the image: A well-dressed young woman enters “Voting Booth No. 1.”

Why does Natomas Charter School Teacher Jeff Pollard find this image interesting?

I use this image as part of my introduction to a primary source investigation about the New Woman of the 1920s using Marchand Archive resources. I think it is a fantastic image because it gets students’ attention, and the increased status for women in the 1920s is so clear. The image itself does a lot of work for me as a teacher by setting up my investigation. The title of the image is “The Mystery of 1920.” So I ask students, “What is the mystery?” Students clearly can see that this New Woman was confident, stylish, and even a bit egotistical in her glance. Through analyzing the image students come to the conclusion that the mystery of 1920 is the question: How will America be changed as women step into voting and toward political equality?  It is a great example of how images can be used to set up investigations, get students’ attention, and link a concept to an image. I come back to this image later in the year when I review for the the standardized test required by California. I show this image again and ask students the following questions: What was the mystery? Why 1920? What amendment granted women suffrage? The students remember the image and remember the content associated with it as well.” 

Related Topics/Themed Collections: Twenties, 20’s pop culture, women

Lessons in the Marchand Collection:

  • The “New Woman” of the 1920s by Jeff Pollard, CHSS 11.5.4, 11.5.7, IN PRINT – AVAILABLE ONLY IN THE MARCHAND ROOM
  • Slang in the 1920s by Kevin Williams, CHSS 11.5, IN PRINT – AVAILABLE ONLY IN THE MARCHAND ROOM

Resources Available in the Marchand Collection:

  • Roland Marchand, Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Share your ideas! How would you use this image?  Let us know here.