On January 12, 2021, we launched our new virtual series, “ExhiBits,” which has allowed us opportunities to take short but informative dives into aspects of our newest digital exhibition, “We Want More and We Will Have It: Women Running Rochester.” Each ExhiBit will take place on the second Tuesday of the month, from 3:30-4:00 pm EST (LIVE), and will be recorded and shared via this blog afterward. The blog post will include responses to questions we receive via Zoom chat during the talk, and after via email and social media.
“Here’s Some More: A Virtual Tour of the digital exhibit, “We Want More and We Will Have It: Women Running Rochester" was an opportunity for us to introduce the ExhiBits concept, and to orient viewers to our collections, work, and services. The exhibition started as a “physical” one, meaning it was on display in the department, and was scheduled to open on March 16, 2020, right at the very start of the COVID-19 lockdown. We then took that physical exhibition that was never seen and re-imagined it for a digital space, using Omeka, to make it accessible virtually.
Miranda Mims, the Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation opened the program, welcoming the audience and sharing her thoughts on the exhibition, as well as a brief insight into the cases she curated for the show. Autumn Haag, the Assistant Director and primary curator for the show, shared key information about the department, our suffrage collections, how we approached the various areas of the exhibit, and the reasons we took on this topic of “women running Rochester” in 2020. 2020 was both the 200th anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony, as well as the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Autumn shared her insights and then posed a key question to RBSCP Section Supervisor Melinda Wallington, who reflected on a photograph from the exhibit case she curated on Women and Work. The photo featured an image from 1931 of a woman who worked for Eastman Kodak, seated at her lavishly decorated desk on the day her colleagues gave her a wedding shower, marking the transition to a new period of her life.
Following Melinda’s comments, Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Exhibitions and Special Projects Manager, spoke about the design inspiration behind the exhibition, focusing on three major areas where she drew inspiration for the look and feel of the show. The first was the 1960s and 1970s board games, “What Shall I Be?” which explores career options for girls by asking a question that has morphed over time, based on feminist, women’s rights, and other movements. Second was the “pussy power hat” – the “sea of pink” hats we saw in the January 2017 protests across the United States. One of these hats is part of our collection, knit by the designer of the hat herself (Kat Coyle). Third was the work of Michael Osadciw, whose portraits allowed us to highlight four women from our collections – Susan B. Anthony, Ruth Scott, Midge Costanza, and Louise Slaughter. In addition to seeing these in our exhibition, there is a wonderful University of Rochester website that features 25 women with a UR connection portrayed in this style. If you are in Rochester, you can drive or walk around the River Campus and the medical campus and see these banners “in the wild.”
To register for each free live event, visit https://forms.gle/g6QCKhxzy3AZp1tw8.
The events will be recorded and made accessible here just before the next live event in the series.
• February 9, 2021, 3:30-4:00 PM. “Women Giving Back: Three Generations of Rochester Giving in the Sibley Family” with special guest Marjorie Searl.
• March 9, 2021, 3:30-4:00 PM. “It’s Earlier Than You Think: Women at the University of Rochester, 1875-1925,” with Melissa Mead, John M. and Barbara Keil University Archivist and Rochester Collections Librarian.
• April 13, 2021, 3:30-4:00 PM. “Voices for Today and Tomorrow: The Murals of Brittany Williams” with special guest, artist, and activist, Brittany Williams.
• May 11, 2021, 3:30-4:00 PM. “Organize, Agitate, Participate: Meet Ruth Scott through her Papers”, with special guest, author, politician, and activist, Ruth Scott.
• June 8, 2021, 3:30-4:00 PM. “A Single Item Tells a Story: Creating a Stir with Suffrage Cookbooks,” with Autumn Haag.