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Women's Creative Histories

This teaching collection explores women's contributions and experiences in fields including literature, politics, printmaking, photography, and theatre. Women historians, writers, activists, and publishers labored politically and philosophically as they struggled to live their lives as they wished, often fighting for suffrage or other legal rights while also bolstering their rights to equal personhood through displays of artistic and literary excellence. These sample teaching collections approach these histories through the understanding that women often completed creative work in ways different from those available to men. Women worked in doubled fashion: accounting for their own oppression while determining and drawing from its strengths and lessons. These four teaching collections cover two public spheres and two genres, and describe manuscripts and objects among the Ransom Center's collections that are appropriate for classes in politics, literature, performance, art and art history et cetera, in addition to Women's and Gender Studies.

  • Women and Autobiography

    Women-identifying artists, writers, photographers, among others, often used their own lives as inspiration. Some works, like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, were written for explicit political purposes like suffrage and emancipation. Other writers like Christine Brooke-Rose and Anne Sexton dove towards the poetic. Many autobiographical works were private exercises—like Sarah Bernhardt's scrapbook—but many served their author's careers. Elizabeth Olds's biographical sketch, for example, offered the American artist a chance to explain aesthetic, political, or theoretical principles or developments through describing those experiences that fed into the work.

    Item List


    Incidents in the life of a slave girl. Written by herself, edited by L. Maria Child, by Harriet Ann Jacobs. First edition. 1861.

    E 444 J17

    First edition of Harriet Ann Jacobs' account of her years under slavery, escape to freedom, and struggles to free her two children after her escape. Jacobs began writing her narrative in 1853 as a letter to The New York Tribune, signed "Fugitive;" she was responding to a defense of slavery penned by then-First Lady Julia Tyler. Published under the pseudonym Linda Brent, Jacobs shaped her slave narrative to show black female slaves as women and mothers with chastity and virtues equal to those of Northern middle-class white women, but who could not protect themselves or their families while enslaved.


    Sarah Bernhardt, scrapbook, ca. 1900-1906.

    Box 9 Sarah Bernhardt Collection

    Scrapbook in which Sarah Bernhardt pasted clippings, playbills, and photographs from various plays in which she performed, including her turn as Hamlet at the Garden Theater of Madison Square Garden in 1900.


    Box of Gertrude Stein's and Alice B. Toklas' personal effects, including an embroidered button, hand towel, stationary dies, sealing wax set, stationery, wallpaper samples, eyeglasses [...]. ca. 1913-ca. 1937.

    Boxes 1-2 Gertrude Stein Personal Effects

    Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas continued Stein's famous line "... a rose is a rose is a rose … " across many of the items with which they decorated their home. A button (also decorated with Stein's rose line) relates to Stein's famous book Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, Rooms (1914), an important work in the history of modernist experimental literary form and everyday consciousness. A first edition of Tender Buttons is among the Ransom Center's holdings as well. (PS 3537 T323 T4 1914).


    Nella Larsen, clippings, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. biography form [for publicity purposes] and Larsen's two publicity biographies (one handwritten, one typed), 1926.

    Box 1393.9 Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records

    Biography written to accompany Passing (1929), a story of a woman with black ancestry who passes for white. In these publicity materials Nella Larsen forefronts her own mixed ancestry as well as her education.


    Laurette Taylor, "Stars that Crossed Mine." autobiographical manuscript, typed, never published.

    Box 397 J-1 Theater Biography Collection

    Laurette Taylor's performance in Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie on Broadway in the 1940s is considered one of the twentieth century's most influential stage appearances for its luminous naturalism. Taylor burned most of her papers following the death of her husband, playwright J. Hartley Manners, in 1928, and this drafted autobiography is one of the few extant texts in which Taylor considers her life. She centered each chapter around a person influential to her, such as her mother, Hartley Manners, and Sarah Bernhardt. The Ransom Center's Performing Arts Collection also contains a number of photographs and clippings pertaining to Taylor's life.


    Una Vincenzo Troubridge, holograph notebooks for Biography of Radclyffe Hall, c. 1960. 2 vol.

    Box 34.2-3 Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge Papers

    Handwritten notebooks that comprise the first draft of Una Troubridge's biography of her longtime partner Radclyffe Hall, famous for her book The Well of Loneliness (1928).


    Allanah Harper, draft of All Trivial Fond Records, manuscript with handwritten emendations; Echanges nos. 1-3 (1929-30).

    Box 3.4-5 Allanah Harper Papers

    Draft of Allanah Harper's autobiography, All Trivial Fond Records (published 1950, CT 788 H317 A3 1950), in which Harper discusses founding and editing the quarterly review Echanges (1929-31), which introduced French writers to English ones and vice versa. Harper recounts attending varied Parisian salons in the hope of drumming up interest (financial or otherwise)—Echanges was largely funded by Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah, the third Aga Khan—as well as her involvement with a political group interested in uniting Europe economically (presaging the European Union).


    Anne Sexton, holograph manuscripts and typescripts for The Death Notebooks (1974), 1970-1973, 124pp.

    Box 3.5 Anne Sexton Papers

    Handwritten drafts of Anne Sexton's poems for The Death Notebooks, in which the self-confessional poet describes her struggles with depression, suicide attempts, and thoughts. Drawings in the margin attest to Sexton's painting and drawing as part of her therapy as well (these paintings can be found in the Ransom Center's Anne Sexton Art Collection).


    Elizabeth Olds, "In-Depth Biographical Sketch," November 1980.

    Box 5.6 Emmett Hudspeth Collection of Elizabeth Olds

    Painter, printmaker, author and illustrator of books for children, Elizabeth Olds wrote this biographical sketch when she was 84 years old. Olds describes her early studies with American artist George Luks and her travels abroad during the latter half of the 1920s. Her return to the U.S. during the Depression fueled her growing interest in the visual arts' social role; Olds's discussion of this time presages her later critique of the rise of post-war American abstraction and its market. Also of note are Olds's references to her interests in animals.


    Anne Noggle, "Tucson, Flying." Contact sheet.

    Temp 1 Anne Noggle Papers and Photography Collection

    Front and back of this contact sheet display a portion of Anne Noggle's artistic process while creating the self portrait Myself as a Pilot (1982), also in the Center's Photography Collection. Noggle joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) at the age of 21; she flew in World War II and the Korean War. After retiring from the Air Force in 1959 she studied and became a photographer. Much of her work explores women's aging processes, including her own.


    Julia Alvarez, teaching files for George Washington University Ethnic autobiography course, folders for individual authors or works, photocopy articles and notes, 1984-1985.

    Box 200.2-4 Julia Alvarez Papers

    Syllabus and notes for a class that Julia Alvarez taught while in residence as the Jenny McKean Moore Visiting Writer in George Washington University's English Department from 1984-85. Titled "English 182: Growing Up As A Minority," Alvarez's class materials contain reproductions of varied memoirs used for class readings, as well as lecture notes on autobiographical methods.


    Christine Brooke-Rose, original holograph manuscript for Remaking (1996), and new holograph manuscripts "(NR)" for Remaking, 3 spiral bound notebooks. 1992-93. 1993.

    Box 1.1-3 Christine Brooke-Rose Papers (Addition), gift no. 10692 [uncatalogued accession]

    Three notebooks of Christine Brooke-Rose's drafts, one full of "rewritten bits" for her autobiography Remaking (1996) that attest to the writer's experimentation with self-expression. In an article written for PN Review 23 no. 3 (January - February 1997), also among the author's papers at the Ransom Center, Brooke-Rose discusses these experiments such as scrapping personal pronouns.


    Doris Lessing, first draft of Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of my Autobiography, 1949-1962, n.d. Typescript with holograph edits; and correspondence and research materials with Elizabeth Murray, research assistant for Walking in the Shade.

    Box 62 Doris Lessing Papers

    First draft and research notes and correspondence into dates, names, places that occurred during Doris Lessing's life between 1949 and 1962; these document in depth Lessing's methods of tracing her life in relation to political and artistic movements in post-war London. Walking in the Shade covers the years 1949-62, from Lessing's arrival in London with her son Peter and her first novel's manuscript—The Grass is Singing (1950)—until the publication of her most famous work of fiction: The Golden Notebook (1962).


    Adrienne Kennedy, account of writing Funnyhouse of a Negro (1964), 1 page; and letter to Cathy Henderson, 3 pages. 1996-1997.

    Box 3 Adrienne Kennedy Papers, reg no. 13448 [uncatalogued accession]

    Adrienne Kennedy, People who led to my plays (New York: Knopf, 1987).

    PS 3561 E4252 P4 1987

    Adrienne Kennedy's description of her travels through Europe and Ghana, her hair, impending childbirth, her parents' divorce and how all these events condensed into her first written play: Funnyhouse for a Negro. Included with a letter to Ransom Center librarian Cathy Henderson, in which Kennedy explains why she wanted her papers at the Center. Kennedy describes her fear of losing her manuscripts while writing the autobiography People who led to my plays, which consists of short notes on people that she met or knew over the course of her life as well as her creative influences.


    LaToya Ruby Frazier, Self-Portrait Lying on a Pile of Rubble, 2007; and Fifth Street Tavern and U.P.M.C. Braddock Hospital on Braddock Avenue, 2011. Both gelatin silver prints.

    2015:0032:0001 and 2015:0033:0001 Photography Collection

    Two photographs in which LaToya Ruby Frazier connects herself to her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, which explore the effect of industrial pollution and economic exploitation on the city's black residents, as well as the ways in which Frazier, her family, and her neighbors sustained themselves and their community.

  • Women and Other Worlds

    Genres such as fantasy, science fiction, myth, or utopian fiction offered writers like Charlotte Perkins Gilman a place for thought-experiments of more equitable societies (or at least different ones). For several other women writers, particularly those who lived later in history such as Doris Lessing and James Tiptree Jr. (the pen name of Alice B. Sheldon), imagining other worlds offered conceptual freedom to explore alternative forms in fiction, but also human life and relationships.

    Item List


    Philosophical letters: or, Modest reflections upon some opinions in natural philosophy, maintained by several famous and learned authors of this age, expressed by way of letters: by the thrice noble, illustrious, and excellent princess, the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle, by Margaret Cavendish. London, Printed in the Year 1664.

    Aj N431 +664p

    In 1666, Margaret Cavendish penned an early utopian fiction called A Description of a New World Called the Blazing World, in which a superhuman woman rises to absolute power as a matter of course. The fiction illustrated then-current growths in natural and experimental philosophy at the time for women, as Cavendish noted in its introduction ("Dedication" in The Blazing World, 1668):

    by reason most Ladies take no delight in Philosophical Arguments, I separated some from the mentioned Observations, and caused them to go out by themselves, that I might express my Respects, in presenting to Them such Fancies as my Contemplations did afford.

    Many of the arguments and observations underpinning The Blazing World can be studied in the Ransom Center's copy of Philosophical Letters.


    [The Last Day], by Joseph Prescott. Inscribed on the verso: "March 4th 1803, 14 B 113 pa, Book 15 page 6." Watercolor on white paper laid on gauze with edges bound, 55.7 x 42.4 cm.

    Uncatalogued. 80.39.5 Joanna Southcott Collection of Watercolors by Joseph Prescott

    Joseph Prescott's depiction of the Last Day of Judgment was germane to followers of prophetess Joanna Southcott, who around 1792 announced herself as the Woman of the Apocalypse spoken of in Revelation 12:1-6 (KJV), who would give birth to the new Messiah. Prescott was a follower of Southcott who illustrated both her visions and his own, without professing any skill or training in drawing or painting.


    Sara Coleridge, Map of Phantasmion, handdrawn manuscript, 1 page, undated.

    Box 1.5 Sara Coleridge Collection

    Sara Coleridge, Phantasmion (London: William Pickering, 1837). Copy presented to Hartley Coleridge by the author, with armorial bookplate of Derwent Coleridge; ms. index to lyrics at end; ms markings. From the Coleridge Library.

    PR 4489 C2 P48

    Hastily-drafted map of the imaginary land in which editor, translator, and writer Sara Coleridge set her fairy tale Phantasmion. While the spatial relationships between Fairyland's six countries echo that of England's Lake District—location of the Coleridge family seat Greta Hall—the characteristics of each area seem part of an imaginative game that Coleridge played with her son Herbert. The 'towering palm-trees' of Palmland and the wild tigers of Tigridia echo Herbert's fascination with the exciting landscapes denoted on maps of India, Sumatra, and similar.


    Illustrations to Tennyson's Idylls of the King, and Other Poems. Photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron. London: Henry S. King., 1875.

    F PR 5577 C264 HRC-P

    In 1874, Alfred Lord Tennyson approached Julia Margaret Cameron to make photographic illustrations for a new edition of his adaptation of Arthurian legends, titled Idylls of the King. Cameron took some 200 photographs, but to her disappointment the publisher chose only two to reproduce as wood engravings. Cameron went on to produce her own version with albumen silver prints interspersed by texts from Tennyson's narrative poems. This edition was collected by Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, two of photography's earliest historians.


    Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman with an introduction by Ann J. Lane. New York: Pantheon Books, 1979. First published as a serial in The Forerunner, ed. Gilman (November 1909 - December 1916).

    PS 1744 G57 H474

    Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "Studies in Ethics" [Gilman's notes on her course schedule], n.d.

    Box 1.1 Charlotte Perkins Gilman Collection

    First edition of socialist and suffragette Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1909-16 serial Herland, which describes a utopia comprised entirely of women. The book playfully reasons against cultural norms of masculinity and femininity, sexuality, motherhood, and civic leadership, seeking to show the degrading effect of patriarchy on human consciousness. Herland's first publication in book form in 1979 followed a string of science fiction novels written by feminists, such as Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) and Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed (1974).


    The Last Man, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. London: Henry Colburn, 1826. First edition.

    WOLFF 6281

    29First edition of Mary Shelley's The Last Man, a science fiction novel set after an apocalypse by plague in which a group of elite survivors slowly but ultimately perish, save one. An allegorical lament for the loss of Shelley's circle—the Last Man is an autobiographical figure—the book also questions the individualistic ideals of Romanticism and the Enlightenment, as the group is corroded from within by flaws in human nature rather than plague. Though reviewers roundly castigated The Last Man for the cruel deaths of almost all its characters, Shelley later spoke of the novel as one of her favorite works.


    Orlando: A Biography, by Virginia Woolf. London: Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1928. Unbound proof copy.

    PR 6045 O72 O7 1928 MOR

    Proof copy of the first edition of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, the biography of a man born during the reign of Elizabeth I who wakes up one day as a woman, lives for centuries, and meets the key figures of English literary history. The eponymous hero was based on Woolf's friend and lover Vita Sackville-West.


    Ursula K. Le Guin and Alfred A. Knopf, Correspondence, 1955-56.

    Box 1000.3 Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records

    Correspondence between science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin—now an exemplar of the genre—and Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Le Guin tried to have her first two novels published by Knopf, and also sought advice on her writing. Though Knopf rejected both manuscripts, it seems he believed in Le Guin's talents since he offered extensive suggestions and criticisms. Le Guin later recounted in a short memoir for The Paris Review, "A rejection like that from a man like that is enough to keep a young writer going. I never sent the manuscript out again. I knew Knopf was right, it was a crazy damn thing." ("My Motherland" theparisreview.org, 2016).


    Gloria Swanson, UFO research. 1954-1968.

    Box 329.4-5 Gloria Swanson Papers

    Two folders of Gloria Swanson's collection of UFO-related studies. The folders include several images of Swanson posing with a flying saucer, as well as a poster, newsletters from UFO-investigating entities (such as the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) and a booklet of the proceedings of the Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects held before the Committee on Science and Aeronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives.


    Christine Brooke-Rose, Notes on astrophysics and and early manuscript for Such (London: M. Joseph, 1966), 4 notebooks, undated.

    Box 5.4-6 Christine Brooke-Rose Papers

    Notes and drafts for Brooke-Rose's novel Such, which tells of an astronomer's after-death insights regarding the nature of stars. Brooke-Rose's extensive research into astrophysics led to her interest in physical laws as metaphor: "For instance if you take a scientific law and use it literally, it becomes a metaphor," Brooke-Rose later recalled in an interview, "If the teacher says, 'Weight consists of the attraction between two bodies,' everybody giggles. But if you take it further and use more complicated astrophysical laws about bouncing signals on the moon, for instance, to express the distance between people, then it becomes a very active metaphor. [...] So this sort of thing, you see, isn't a conscious decision, it's a discovery." ("A Conversation with Christine Brooke-Rose, The Review of Contemporary Fiction 9 no. 3 (Fall 1989))


    Fifth Stone, Sixth Stone, by Lee Bontecou [artist], and Tony Towle [poet]. West Islip, New York, United Limited Art Editions, 1968.

    -f- NE 2012 B658 A455 1968

    Limited-edition artist's book with aquatint etchings made by Lee Bontecou at United Limited Art Editions, a famous art-printmaking shop run by Russian-born emigre Tatyana Grosman and her husband. Bontecou's etchings used the dark ovals characteristic of her metal wall-reliefs with their protruding holes. These voids reflected Bontecou's interest in a form that might represent the unknowns of both outer space and the inner self, and in doing so express the relations between this world and other worlds.


    Diane di Prima, "The Planet Eaters," typed manuscript, undated but circa 1970.

    Little Alphabet UNCAT Diane di Prima, "The Planet Eaters."

    An short story in which post-Beat poet Diane di Prima imagines the forces of colonialism and capitalism as alien powers, referred to as "Paper People," who are bent on straightening and streamlining the human world's messy organicity. On the back of each page is a long-haired man's head, printed in grassy green.


    Alice Bradley Sheldon, also known as James Tiptree Jr., Correspondence with literary agent and editor Robert Park Mills, 1971-73.

    Box 69.6-7 Robert Park Mills Collection

    Alice Bradley Sheldon, Warm Worlds and Otherwise (New York: Ballantine Books, 1975), with an introduction by Robert Silverburg.

    PS 3570 I66 W37

    In 1977, popular science fiction author James Tiptree Jr. revealed their identity as a middle age psychologist, former-counterintelligence officer, and artist Alice B. Sheldon. Sheldon's correspondence with literary agent Robert Park Mills is extensive and intimate; yet does not reveal gender. Still Tiptree's identity came under debate, enough so that Robert Silverburg's 1975 introduction to Warm Worlds and Otherwise demonstrates a preoccupation with the author's gender. Silverburg insists that Tiptree is a man, calling one tale in the book, "a profoundly feminist story told in an entirely masculine manner."


    Notes, production documents, promotional material, printed programs, reviews, clippings, and photographs for the opera The Making of the Representative of Planet 8. Libretto by Doris Lessing, music by Philip Glass. 1988-89.

    Box 46.8-47.5 Doris Lessing Papers

    Assorted materials documenting various productions of the opera version of Doris Lessing's 1982 novel The Making of the Representative of Planet 8, which relates the fate of a planet plunged into an ice age. When the benevolent galactic empire Canopus cannot rescue them, the people of Planet 8 eventually evolve into a collective soul, the "Representative," that carries Planet 8's collective memories.


    Margaret Atwood, Early manuscript draft of "Lusus Naturae" for McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, ed. Michael Chabon (New York: Vintage, 2004).

    Box 95.7 McSweeney's Records

    A short story told from the viewpoint of a lusus naturae (Latin for "freak of nature"). This young girl develops a condition in which she grows fangs, her eyes turn yellow, and her fingernails go red. One day she mistakes two lovers for fellow lusus naturae, as their love-making produced growls, mewls, "little screams." Trying to join, she alerts local townspeople to her existence and seals her fate.

  • Women in Politics

    Women found ways to participate in governance and civil rights struggles, sometimes directly as leaders and activists, as in Frene Ginwala's case. Others like Louise Dupin, Jessica Mitford, and Sanora Babb commented on varied public affairs. Still other women simply found themselves caught up within a political struggle, as Mary W. Dennett and Pat Nixon did.

    Item List


    Louise Marie Madeline Fontaine Dupin, "De l'origine de gouvernement," article 25, Ouvrage sur les Femmes, unpublished drafts, c. 1745-50.

    Box 2.11 Ouvrage sur les Femmes Collection

    In the mid-1740s, Louise Marie Madeline Fontaine Dupin brought several artists and writers, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, to her chateau at her Chenonceaux, intending to write a history of women. After working on the project until 1750, Dupin shelved the work. Arguably, much of Dupin's work on women inspired Rousseau's later Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract; though this matter requires further study. The lecture notes, chapter drafts, and other fragments form an argument for women's equality that presages those made by Simone de Beauvoir two centuries later in The Second Sex.


    Carlota of Mexico [or Charlotte of Belgium], Consort of Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico. Letters, manuscripts, seating plans, clippings, 1864-1866.

    Box 2.16-3.3 Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico Collection

    During her husband's contested and short-lived reign as Emperor of Mexico—from his coronation in 1864 until his execution by Benito Juárez's forces in 1867—Carlota took imperial obligations seriously. She traveled around the Mexican countryside and returned to Europe in 1866 in an attempt to garner support and assistance for Maximilian's faltering regime. The folder includes eighty-nine letters to Maximilian, written in Spanish and German, as well as speech drafts, seating plans, and the occasional newspaper clipping.


    Correspondence between Elizabeth Robins and Christabel Pankhurst, 1906-13.

    Box 1.1, 1.12-2.1 Elizabeth Robins Collection

    Both board members of the Women's Social and Political Union—a militant suffrage organization in the United Kingdom—Elizabeth Robins and Cristabel Pankhurst corresponded often during some of the WSPU's most active years.


    Christina Livingston Broom, documentary photographs of women's suffrage demonstrations and women during World War 1, 1906-1925.

    Women, 1906-1925 Christina Livingston Broom Photography Collection (Gernsheim Collection)

    21 gelatin silver prints that include a photograph of British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, the first Women Police, and women volunteering as nurses and army cooks during the First World War.


    Alice Corbin Henderson, research and strategy notes against the Bursom Bill, c. 1922-31.

    Box 27.5, 27.8 Alice Corbin Henderson Collection

    After writer Alice Corbin Henderson moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico for health reasons in 1917, she and her family dedicated themselves to the arts and civil rights of the region's Native Americans. A Trustee of the Indian Arts Fund, Henderson worked with other artists and writers of the area to fight the Bursom Bill, which would have authorized the white New Mexicans' acquisition of Native American land. Henderson's papers include notes, clippings, telegrams and so forth on U.S. legislation—particularly land and water rights—in the region, as well as meeting notes from the All-Pueblo Councils convened to fight the Bursom Bill.


    Court exhibits in United States v. Mary W. Dennett re The Sex Side of Life, 1929-30; Bound volume containing briefs, memoranda, and transcripts, 1929-30.

    Boxes 358.7-8 and 364.1 Morris Leopold Ernst Papers

    Collection of informational sexual health pamphlets contemporary to Mary W. Dennett's The Sex Side of Life: An Explanation for Young People (also included in the folder). Dennett was tried on obscenity charges for her frank discussions of human sexuality and sexual health. These are the copies of other sexual health pamphlets that Ernst used to prove that Dennett's contribution to the field was both informational and sorely needed. These books attest to conceptions of masculinity and sexual development in 1920s America.


    Sanora Babb, eviction notice, field notes, ideas, letters from migrants, songs, FSA publications, circa 1936-1940.

    Box 18.6 Sanora Babb Papers

    Documents collected by Sanora Babb while working as the assistant to Tom Collins, manager of the Kern County migrant camp in central California, during the Dust Bowl migrations. Publications from various migrant camps and letters from farm workers appear in Babb's research papers, as well as the eviction notice to unknown inhabitants, which inspired the title of Babb's novel Whose Names Are Unknown. Babb's sister Dorothy often accompanied her to these camps, taking photographs; the Ransom Center holds these as well.


    Lulie Abu'l Huda, letters to Freya Stark, 1942-1958; Bulletins of the Ikhwan al Hurriyah ("Brotherhood of Freedom"), c. 1943-47; Expense sheet for "Miss Stark's Oral Propaganda" (Cairo and Iraq), undated.

    Box 8.9 and 24.10 Freya Stark Collection

    During World War II, travel writer Freya Stark worked to counter Axis propaganda in the Middle East by founding the Ikhwan al Hurriyah (Arabic for "Brotherhood of Freedom," but in an outdated Anglicization). Stark and her assistants Lulie Abu'l Huda and Pamela Hore-Ruthven built pro-British networks out of Cairo, leading discussion groups, publishing a weekly bulletin, and organizing social events.


    Nancy Cunard, letter to Ezra Pound, June 11, 1946.

    Box 10.6 Nancy Cunard Collection

    Letter in which Cunard excoriates her former friend and lover Ezra Pound for his Nazi sympathies and general xenophobia. "I have been wanting to write you this for some times—for some years—but I could not do so because you were with the enemy in Rome, you were the enemy," she began, "[...] Williams has called you 'misguided.' I do not agree. The correct word for a Fascist is 'scoundrel.'"


    Press photographs of Egyptian suffragette Doria Shafik, 1949-1957.

    Box 2650 New York Journal-American Photographic Morgue

    Poet and editor Doria Shafik was a dedicated advocate and activist organizer for women's rights in Egypt. Among other efforts, she undertook hunger strikes and led the Bint al-Nil ("Daughter of the Nile") feminist political party, which pushed for women's suffrage in Egypt (granted in 1956). The New York Journal-American's collection of press photographs of Shafik include news items affixed to the back of each image.


    Frene Ginwala, book proposal for The Development of Nationalism in Tanganyika, April 9, 1965.

    Box 11.6 The Transcription Centre Records

    A member of the anti-apartheid African National Congress, Indian South African journalist Frene Ginwala was instrumental in establishing escape routes for ANC leaders through Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), where she edited the journal Spearhead in the early 1960s. Ginwala first contacted Dennis Duerden of the Transcription Centre—which produced educational material about African culture—with a grant proposal for a book on the the development of nationalism in Tanganyika.


    Jessica Mitford, research notebook, clippings, and correspondence for "Women in Cages," a chapter of Kind and Usual Punishment (New York: Knopf, 1973).

    Box 24.1 Jessica Mitford Papers

    Jessica Mitford, Kind and Usual Punishment (New York: Knopf, 1973).

    HV 9471 M58 1973 HRC-TA

    Folder containing Mitford's research for a chapter on women's prisons in the 1970s, written for her searing account of the American penal system: Kind and Usual Punishment. The folder includes a notebook, correspondence as well as documents, fingerprints, and a photograph from Mitford's entrance into the Department of Corrections in the District of Columbia. News clippings demonstrate social attitudes about women in prisons.


    Bob Woodward, typed notes from an interview with Helen Smith, press secretary for Pat Nixon, November 4, 1974; photocopy of Pat Nixon's May-July 1974 schedule.

    Box 75.14 Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Watergate Papers

    Notes from an interview Bob Woodward held with Helen Smith, press secretary to Pat Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Smith details the family's responses to the release of transcripts from the Watergate tapes and Richard Nixon's resignation.


    Susan Meiselas, EL SALVADOR. El Mozote. 1982. The site of the massacre of Evangelicals. Photographs.

    Box 945 Magnum Photos, Inc. Photography Collection

    For two days in December 1981, the Atacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army shot, raped, and killed 900-1200 villagers who lived in El Mozote, a village in the department of Morazán, El Salvador. Freelance photojournalist Susan Meiselas entered the village with reporters Ray Bonner and Alma Guillermoprieto a month later. Her photographs recorded the rotting bodies of adult and child victims for The New York Times and The Washington Post. Both the U.S. and Salvadoran governments denied the reports as exaggerations for years. [Warning: these images are graphic and disturbing.]

  • Women in Publishing

    Many women shaped literary culture as editors, publishers, or shopowners, sometimes due to the unequal availability of opportunities for female writers. Some leveraged their positions to publish both their own work and that of other women. Editing little magazines, for example, gave Daisy Aldan and Kathleen Tankersley Young an opportunity to forge the literary conversations of their time in more inclusive forms. Or, for example, in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, editor Harriet Monroe stressed the magazine's openness to all sorts of submissions in order to remain open to change and experimentation, instead of aligning the magazine with any single literary tendency.

    Item List


    Alice Corbin Henderson, Correspondence with Harriet Monroe; and Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 10, nos. 1-6 (1917).

    Box 6.4 Alice Corbin Henderson Collection

    Correspondence between Harriet Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson during their co-editorship of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse from 1912–1922. Henderson co-edited Poetry while living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and championed regional poets like Carl Sandburg in an attempt to explore intrinsically American forms. Poetry still runs as the Poetry Foundation, and continues to play an important role in American letters.


    Mary Mowbray-Clarke, "The Small Bookshop" (substance of a speech made at the class for Booksellers in the Public Library), January 27, 1922).

    Box 1.1 Mary Mowbray-Clarke Papers

    When Madge Jenison and Mary Mowbray-Clarke opened The Sunwise Turn in 1916 in Manhattan, New York, the two women envisioned a "bookshop of a different kind" that blended modern arts and crafts with literature. Seeking to create a space for readers, they sponsored readings and talks on varied subjects from abstraction to suffrage to Vedanta metaphysics, and prepared subject booklists for interested readers.


    Idella Purnell Stone, handwritten draft advertisement for Palms, not dated; Palms 1 no. 1-7 (1923-30).

    Box 1.3 Idella Purnell Stone Personal Papers and Records of Palms Magazine

    Drafted advertising copy for the little poetry magazine Palms, written by Idella Purnell Stone and edited by D.H. Lawrence. Purnell began publishing Palms out of Guadalajara, Mexico in 1923. She edited copy and content, wrote advertisements, managed circulation and pursued submissions while also working for the American Consulate and keeping house for her father. Purnell also enjoyed the assistance of D.H. Lawrence, who helped edit copy and suggested artists for the cover.


    Kathleen Tankersley Young, letters to Charles Henri Ford, 1929-30; Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms nos. 1-9 (1929-1930).

    Box 15.6 Charles Henri Ford Papers

    Letters from African American poet and editor Kathleen Tankersley Young to Charles Henri Ford, Blues' founding editor. Young played an important role in guiding Ford, introducing him to modernists such as William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein. Young went on to start her own imprint, Modern Editions Press, in 1932, which paired poets such as Kay Boyle and Laurence Vail with frontispieces by artists like Max Weber and Stuart Davis. Young died a year later in Mexico at the age of 30, shortly after her last letter to Ford.


    Allanah Harper, scrapbook, n.d.

    Box 50.1 Sybille Bedford Papers

    Scrapbook containing press clippings collected by Allanah Harper, a modernist writer and editor of the magazine Echanges (1929-1931).


    Nancy Cunard, notes and source materials, typescripts with corrections, map, and drawings, for Negro: An Anthology; letters regarding Negro: An Anthology and hate mail

    Boxes 7.2, 20.8, 20.10 Nancy Cunard Collection

    Nancy Cunard, Negro: An Anthology (London: Nancy Cunard at Wishart & Co., 1934). 854 pp with illustrations and a foldout map. Inscribed: "Nancy, own copy, April, 1934," with tipped in letter from James Ivy, page from bookseller's catalog with entry for this book.

    -q- E 185.5 C98 1934

    Nancy Cunard's notes and source materials for her anthology on the African diaspora, inspired by her disgust at the Scottsboro case—which she put into the broader perspective of the colonial oppression of black peoples on both sides of the Atlantic—as well as her romantic partnership with black musician Henry Crowder.


    We Moderns: Gotham Book Mart, 1920-1940, edited by Frances Steloff (New York: Gotham Book Mart, 1940).

    Z 999 G68 1940 LAK

    A twentieth-anniversary catalog from the Gotham Book Mart, founded in 1920 by Frances Steloff. Inspired by The Sunwise Turn bookstore, Steloff offered GBM as a meeting place for writers, artists, and readers, and We Moderns continued the bookstore's conversational bent. Steloff paired book lists of available works from a modern writer with commentaries and reminiscences penned by their peers. The format followed the format of GBM's 1938 catalogue The Book-collector's Odyssey, or "Travels in the Realms of Gold" (New York: Gotham Book Mart, 1938). Z 999 G684.


    Blanche Knopf and Elizabeth Bowen, correspondence, 1934 - 54; and Bowen's Court by Elizabeth Bowen (London: Longmans, Green and co., 1942). 340pp with illustrations.

    Box 685.14-15, 686.1 Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records

    Correspondence between Blanche Knopf—president of Alfred A. Knopf Inc. and editor—with novelist Elizabeth Bowen. The letters discuss professional matters such as book tours and royalties as well as personal exchanges. When her schedule permitted, Knopf enjoyed visiting the writer's family seat, Bowen's Court. Knopf, Inc. published the American edition of Bowen's history of the manor, Bowen's Court (1942); however Knopf herself owned the London edition, sent to her by the author.


    Caresse Crosby, ed. Portfolio: An Intercontinental Quarterly 1 nos. 3-6 (1945-48). From the Crosby Library.

    -Q- AP 1 P6

    The last three issues of Portfolio, Caresse Crosby's final publishing venture. Nos. 3 and 5 were printed out of Washington D.C. and featured American artists and writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Romare Bearden; no. 4 came out of Rome and focused on Italy's modern art and literature; no. 6 spotlighted Greece. Paper was in short supply around World War II's end, so writing and artwork appeared on paper stocks of differing colors, sizes, and grains, bound in a folder. The format later inspired Daisy Aldan.


    Fleur Cowles, ed. Flair nos. 1-12 (1950-51).

    q AP 2 F524 HRC

    Replica of Cowles' London office, established by Cowles' donation of her personal archive to the Harry Ransom Center in 2011.

    Recreation of Fleur Cowles' London office on the third floor of the Harry Ransom Center. Cowles published Flair magazine from 1950-51; it lasted 12 issues. Cowles aimed for "visual excitement," as she called it, and pushed magazine design conventions with unusual paper stock, die-cut covers, tipped-in booklets and other graphic luxuries.


    Marguerite Caetani, letter to Eugene Walter, July 17, c. 1948-60.

    Princess Marguerite Caetani Collection (uncatalogued), accessioned from the Gotham Book Mart.

    Botteghe Oscure 1-25 (1948-60).

    PN 6010 B6 HRC

    Letter from Marguerite Caetani to her editorial assistant Eugene Walter, concerning publication of an issue of Botteghe Oscure. Caetani found the famed biannual Botteghe Oscure in post-war Rome, and each issue contained poetry and short fiction from five countries: France, England, the United States, Italy, and (alternately), Germany and Spain.


    Daisy Aldan, ed. Paste-up with corrections and printer's marks for A New Folder: Americans: poems and drawings, with a foreword by Wallace Fowlie; and published copy (New York: Folder Editions, c. 1959). 116 pp with illustrations, signed presentation copy to Louise and Edgar Varèse from Daisy Aldan, May 1959; Folder nos. 1-4 (1953-56).

    Box 1.11 Daisy Aldan Papers

    Paste-up (for typesetting purposes) of A New Folder, a 1959 anthology of American poetry and the visual arts. A New Folder anthologized Daisy Aldan's little magazine Folder, which integrated prints from Abstract Expressionists such as Grace Hartigan with a diverse selection of poems from New York's post-Beat scene, left unbound in a literal folder. Aldan also published far more women poets (nearly one-third) in A New Folder, a proportion unprecedented in the 1950s. The era's famed The New American Poetry, edited by Donald Allen—in contrast—only contained four women poets (and one African American) out of 44.


    Margaret Randall, two letters from to Carol Berge, 9 and 11 December 1962; El Corno Emplumado / The Plumed Horn nos. 1-31 (1962-1969).

    Box 2.7 Carol Bergé Papers

    Letter from Margaret Randall, editor of the bilingual El corno emplumado / The Plumed Horn to poet Carol Bergé, in which Randall discusses cutting poems for financial and space considerations, among other matters. Randall and co-editor Sergio Mondragón collaborated between Mexico City and New York City to publish poetry, prose, and artwork from across the Americas. Bergé and Randall organized a reading and benefit at the famed Judson Church for the publication; these records are also among Bergé's papers.


    Margaret Cousins, meeting notes, correspondence, and some research material for Women of the World series, 1961-73.

    Box 24.9 Margaret Cousins Papers

    While an editor at Doubleday and Company in the 1960s, Margaret Cousins attempted to develop Women of the World, which was to be a series of biographies of famous women. The series never got off the ground. Cousins wrote in an explanatory note: "It proved difficult to locate figures of sufficient public interest and difficult to persuade good authors to write such biographies."


    Emma Tennant, ed. Original manuscripts with Tennant's notes to designer Julian Rothenstein for Bananas no. 2 (Summer 1975); Bananas nos. 1-26 (1975-1981).

    Box 1.1 Bananas Records

    Emma Tennant's notes on accepted manuscript submissions to Bananas, largely concerning design points such as margins and spacing. A literary magazine devoted to experimental fiction, Bananas was "not a magazine about fruit but returning always to the condition of BANANAS in our time," Tennant wrote in her editor's statement. Linking the "timeless" work of art directly to its era's vagaries (following Ezra Pound's maxim that "literature is news that stays news"), Tennant and designer Julian Rothenstein formatted the magazine as a tabloid newspaper.

Classroom Experiences Your Research Account Teaching Guides

This teaching guide was developed by Ariel Evans.