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Woman Challenging Expectations

Conference Schedule Below

Free Virtual Conference: March 18 and 19, 2021

Ephemera 40 Virtual Ephemera Fair: March 20-22, 2021

Saturday, March 20, 2021 12:00 PM (eastern) through Monday, March 22, 2021 until 8:00 PM (eastern)

Ephemera Society of America MEMBERS ONLY 4:30 PM FRIDAY March 19th



All times are listed in Eastern Standard Time

Thursday, March 18th

12:00 pm Welcome and Introduction

12:05 pm Hoop Makers to Layers Out of the Dead: A Few Centuries of Working Women • Lisa Baskin

The notion that women have not worked outside their homes except in the traditional roles assigned to them, such as teaching or nursing, is challenged by the physical evidence that exists chronicling the breadth of their participation in vocations that we assume were closed to them. Often documented by a single ephemeral bit of evidence, we now understand that women participated in myriad vocations and made significant contributions throughout the centuries.

1:15 pm Sylvia Beach: 1920’s Paris Publisher and Bookseller • Caroline Preston

Sylvia Beach is a feminist icon in modern literary history who supported struggling expat writers in her Paris bookshop in the 1920s and who dared to publish James Joyce’s banned novel, Ulysses. Shakespeare and Company became an informal salon for the American writers who were flocking to Paris after WWI—including Ernest Hemingway, John dos Passos, Ezra Pound, E.E. Cummings, and Gertrude Stein. Beach was a childhood friend of the presenter’s grandmother, who bequeathed personal ephemera about Joyce and the bookshop. The Sylvia Beach Collection at Princeton University more broadly reveals café literary life in 1920s Paris.

2:15 pm Lucy Lippard and Political Art Documentation and Distribution • Jennie Waldow

The critic, writer, and curator Lucy Lippard is known for organizing seminal contemporary art exhibitions of the 1960s and 1970s and for her involvement in the Art Workers Coalition, an artists’ group that advocated for museum reforms. In 1979, she became a founding member of Political Art Documentation and Distribution (PAD/D), a publisher and artist collective based in Manhattan that, through 1988, published and collected posters, pamphlets, and other forms of ephemera by a wide range of visual and performance artists. Lippard’s feminist curatorial practice influenced the structure of the group, its events and exhibitions, and the type of ephemera it collected.

3:15 pm Votes & Petticoats: Collecting Suffrage Ephemera for Student Enrichment • Heidi Herr and students

2020 was the centenary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving the majority of women in America the right to vote. Ephemera created by advocacy groups for the American and English women’s suffrage movement was crucial in raising awareness for the cause and answering objections to it in powerful and colorful ways. The women’s suffrage collection at Johns Hopkins University highlights how suffragists made ephemera that, even in today’s oversaturated visual culture, would ‘go viral.’

Friday, March 19th

12:00pm Welcome and Introduction

12:05pm Inside the Madam C. J. Walker Family Archives • A’Lelia Bundles

A’Lelia Bundles — whose biography On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker was the inspiration for Self Made, the 2020 Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer – will share items from her Madam Walker Family Archives. Among her earliest childhood memories is exploring a dresser drawer that included mother-of-pearl opera glasses and miniature mummy charms from Egypt that had belonged to her great-grandmother, A’Lelia Walker, the daughter of Madam Walker. Nearly 70 years later, she has created the largest private collection of Walker ephemera. Her fifth book, The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, will be published by Scribner in 2021.

1:15pm Australian Activist – Doris Blackburn • Amanda Bede

Doris Blackburn (1889-1970) was an activist in Australian political and social life — in electoral reform, anti-conscription, peace, education, women’s rights, and First People’s rights. In 1913, she was secretary for a leading suffragette standing for federal parliament; in 1916-17 she campaigned against conscription to boost Australian forces in WW1; in the 1920s, she was president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and also supported educational innovations. She was elected to parliament for one term as an independent in 1946, her key policies being family support, housing welfare and opposition to guided missiles. She was co-founder of the Aborigines Advancement League.

2:15pm Evidence of Genius: Barbara McClintock’s Scientific Ephemera • Susan Anderson Laquer

The maize geneticist Barbara McClintock (1902-1992) is credited with the discovery of “jumping genes,” or how chromosomes are able to “cross over” and translocate along the DNA strand. She received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983. Her career can be understood through her papers – particularly her research notes – preserved at the American Philosophical Society.

3:15pm Three Women in West Texas • Virginia Noelke

Frontier conditions in the American West helped to liberate women from 19th century cultural expectations. Johanna Wilhelm, who came to Texas from Germany in 1868 and was widowed in 1890, became the “Sheep Queen of Texas” for the quality of her livestock at her 40,000 acre ranch. Annie Tankersley migrated from Mississippi to Texas in 1859 to raise cattle among the Kickapoo and other tribal groups. After divorce, she ran a hotel and became famous for physically protecting a fellow citizen from an angry mob of soldiers intent on killing him. The presenter is the title’s third woman to find West Texas a liberating environment.