Philobiblon: Advertising women's efforts in 1898

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Advertising women's efforts in 1898

An advert in this week's London Review of Books took my fancy. It was for Transforming the Public Sphere: The Dutch National Exhibition of Women's Labor in 1898, by Maria Grever and Berteke Waaldijk.

From the blurb: "In 1898, the year Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was inaugurated, five hundred women organized an enormous public exhibition showcasing women's contributions to Dutch society as workers in a strikingly broad array of professions. The National Exhibition of Women's Labor, located in The Hague, was attended by more than ninety thousand visitors. Maria Grever and Berteke Waaldijk consider the exhibition in the international contexts of women's history, visual culture, and imperialism."

Antoinette Burton, from the introduction: “Despite the veritable explosion of historical work on exhibitionary culture in the last decade, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of women in organizing the transnational spectacles that dominated the culturescapes of imperial modernity . . . . Transforming the Public Sphere . . . offers an important corrective to this oversight."

So often we talk about women being excluded from the public sphere, yet here was a very public demonstration of their economic roles.

For once this is an "academic" book that is not ridiculously expensive - £18.50 on AmazonUK and $23.95 in the US.

More on the book here, and an essay by one of the book's authors on an aspect of the exhibition here. And another essay is here.

Wikipedia also tells me that: "The first scientific society for women was founded in Middleberg, a city in the south of the Dutch republic, in 1785." I couldn't find any more; anyone know a good general source (in English) for the Dutch women's movement?


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