Victorian-era lacemakers

How the Victorians Politicized Lace

The Victorian era involved a lot of lace. In the face of encroaching industrialism, handmade lace enjoyed a frilly revival—and masked fears about the commodification of female labor.
Women moonshiners bootleggers

How Prohibition Encouraged Women to Drink

During Prohibition, American women “made, sold, and drank liquor in unprecedented fashion,” writes historian Mary Murphy.
Candice Bergen Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown, Motherhood, and “Family Values”

Murphy Brown represented a threat to “family values”—a position that inherently placed her on the side of the families of color whose single family structures supposedly threatened the white, middle-class status quo of the 1990s.
18th century hoop skirt

Why Hoop Petticoats Were Scandalous

In the 18th century a new trend in women's underwear sparked public scandal: the hoop petticoat. How the world became obsessed with what was under women’s skirts.
Lady Loinette

The Feminist Evolution of the Iowa Porkettes

In Iowa, between 1964 and 1991, groups of women—the wives of pork farmers—boosted the supposed benefits of pork-heavy diets. They were the Iowa Porkettes.
women in a reading room at Smith College in 1898

The Reading Rooms Designed to Protect Women from “Library Loafers”

In the late 1800s, American women began to move more freely in public. In response, public libraries created sex-segregated reading rooms, intended to keep women in their proper place.
supermarket illustration

Sex and the Supermarket

Supermarkets represented a major innovation in food distribution—a gendered innovation that encouraged women to find sexual pleasure in subordination.
Winter Shack Landscape

A Feminist Reading of The Long Winter

In The Long Winter, often praised as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s greatest novel, the villain may be not the snow, but oppressive gender roles.
Christmas banquet

How Victorians’ Fear of Starvation Created Our Christmas Lore

One scholar sees more in the Christmas food of authors like Charles Dickens—English national identity and class.
Compleat Housewife frontispiece

What Amateur Cookbooks Reveal About History

Remember those spiral-bound cookbooks from your church group or your mom’s favorite charity? Those amateur recipe collections are history books, too.