Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Bachelor" women

Brides are depicted as June flowers on this Puck cover illustration, 1905. Library of Congress.
We often think of women pursuing education and careers as a modern occurrence — since the 1950s or so. But even at the turn of the century, this phenomenon was happening at such a significant rate that many single women, dubbed "bachelor women," were beginning to view marriage as a choice, not their "only means of livelihood." Men did not always welcome the change:
"One would have thought that all potential husbands would have welcomed a change offering assurance that in the future their proposals would be accepted on their merits, but this is not so. Many men feel it as a slight upon their sex that women, once the pressure of hard necessity has been removed, should choose single blessedness. Such perverse action on their part runs counter to the cherished masculine belief that any and every woman would always prefer some sort of husband rather than none at all."The New York Times, June 4, 1911

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sexy Swimsuit Tights, 1890

Talk about figure-flattering swimwear. Who needs Lycra? (The Jenness Miller Magazine, July 1890)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hitting the Links, 1902

 Leonara Harward shows off her form, circa 1905. Library of Congress.
Courage! Pluck! Endurance! Golf promised all these things to a young woman back in 1902 — at least according to the über-popular Girls' Companion weekly magazine. In its "Girls Who Excel in Sports" column (May 10, 1902), the writer promises the world to girls who take up the game: 

"Golf offers a girl fun, plenty of exercise and fresh air, and the chance to conquer. Without realizing it, she walks miles over the breezy links, drawing in deep breaths of fresh, pure air, broadening her chest, exercising her whole body, bringing the rose tint to her cheeks, and the sparkle to her eyes. In grappling with the difficulties of the game, she develops her skill and ingenuity, qualities that count on the links, and win for her the respect of other players. And she gets a good training for after years, for if she has the right stuff in her, she gains endurance, pluck, courage, patience and steady resolve, with which to meet the 'hazards' of the bigger game called life."