Friday, December 14, 2012

1800s American Woman's Work - Tending the Fire

Platt Powell Ryder (American painter, 1821-1896) By the Hearth 1881

Enoch Wood Perry (American painter, 1831-1913) Saturday Afternoon.

Platt Powell Ryder (American painter, 1821-1896) Fireside Companion

Platt Powell Ryder (American painter, 1821-1896) The Grandmother

Platt Powell Ryder (American painter, 1821-1896) Fireside Chat

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An early 1900s college text on The Art of Doing Laundry + a few paintings by American artists

Lilly Martin Spencer (American artist, 1822 –1902) The Jolly Washerwoman

By 1914. the art of the laundry had become a subject taught in one of  America's finest universities.  Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston, who was an Instructor of Laundering, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, was included in the series Lippencott's Home Manuals.

Charles Frederic Ulrich (American painter, 1858-1908) Washerwomen

"The earliest known method of washing depended entirely on the action of the running water of streams. If the water was not running, the primitive peoples quite naturally used twisting, shaking, flopping, slapping and pounding. They were dependent on the solvent power of water for many kinds of soil, but if any stain was not soluble in water, there was no way to take it out. We find it stated that in B. C. 2000 Egyptians on the Nile stamped their clothes with the feet, beat them with white clay, and wrung them by twisting and turning, one end being held between the feet. Homer in the "Odyssey" tells of the early wash days in Greece."  Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston in 1914

Anna Elizabeth Klumpke (American painter, 1856–1942) In the Wash House

"The story is told that a collar in London in 1832 drew attention to the question of sterilizing the clothes; as a result a poor woman set up a wash-boiler, soap kettle, and other appliances, and so we have the first public wash-house. Here washwomen paid a penny for the privilege of its use, and in 1842 a public laundry was established in Liverpool.Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston in 1914

Charles Courtney Curran (American painter, 1861-1942) Hanging Out Linen

"Sunshine is the simplest method of bleaching and is also the safest. To bleach with sunshine, the garment should be washed clean, then spread while wet in the sun. The sun, together with the oxygen of the water, is most effective in its work. This method requires the least knowledge and the most-time, but no destruction of fiber results. Often the garments are spread in the dew. This dew takes the place of sprinkling the clothes. With either process we are dependent upon the oxygen supplied by the moisture.Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston in 1914

Charles Courtney Curran (American painter, 1861-1942) A Breezy Day 1887

"A washing solution must be established to suit different kinds of water. Some of the hard waters will require more soda in the soap solution than others. The water should be measured, the soap weighed, and the two heated at a low temperature in the soap tank until all soap is dissolved and the liquor is amber color. The weighed quantity of soda is sprinkled in, and the solution simmered another ten minutes. For a general idea of proportion one may use, if water is hard:   5 lbs. of soap. 10 lbs. of soda. 25 gallons of water."  Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston in 1914

Martha Walter (American artist, 1875–1976) Washday

"Water has solvent power. The early laundress washed her clothes in the running brook and the water dissolved out the dirt. To hasten its work the laundress often pounded the clothes with a paddle or stone or trod them. This process was slow, and as time became a consideration it seemed wise to find some cleansing agent that would add its power to that of the water.  The alkaline nature of urine was learned, and it was the custom to have urine collected in large urns in central places in the village. This became the public source of supply for the first chemical aid in washing. Even in our mother's early memory urine was used in dyeing the yarn."  Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston in 1914

Charles Courtney Curran (American painter, 1861-1942) Shadows

"Later wood ashes were taken from the housewife's fire, covered with water and the pearlash or potash was dissolved—"leached." The clothes were soaked in this, and the pearl-ash or lye aided in the cleaning process, but it was destructive to the clothing. An illustration of this method is found in the Italian caldron, where the clothes are placed, the finest in the center, covered with canvas, ashes placed on top and water poured over.  To deaden the potash, later it was mixed with kitchen grease, thus making a kind of soap. This soap was of irregular composition, with the potash usually in excess. This potash "broke" the hardness of the water, and the suds acted as a carrier of dirt, thus making a double cleansing agent."  Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston in 1914

John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Red Kimono on the Roof 1912

"Finally in this present period (1914), in the domestic laundry, wash-boards and other primitive equipment are giving way to the various mechanical devices which are great labor savers, and time savers, and often indeed fabric savers. Washing machines driven by motors, special washing devices for clothes, boilers and wash-tubs, wringers (even motor driven), and steam drying rooms, are making the work less of a drudgery.  Even the irons are no longer heated with smoking hot coals and dragged over the garment, but by gas or electricity giving off heat with evenness of temperature and continued action."  Laundering written by Lydia Ray Balderston in 1914

John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Backyards, Greenwich Village 1914

William Merritt Chase (American painter, 1849-1916) Wash Day Back Yard Reminiscence of Brooklyn 1886

John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Woman's Work 1912

Robert Spencer (American painter, 1879-1931) Washer Woman 1919

Robert Frederick Blum (American artist, 1857–1903) In the Laundry

William Aiken Walker (American painter, 1839-1921) Autumn Scene in North Carolina with Cabin, Wash Line, and Cornfield 1908

Robert Spencer (American painter, 1879-1931) Woman Hanging Out Clothes 1917

Edward Potthast (American painter, 1857-1927) The Washerwomen

John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Sun and Wind on the Roof 1915

John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Women Drying Their Hair 1912

 Will Hicok Low (American Painter, 1853-1932) Montlery Sur Long

Sunday, November 18, 2012

American Women by George Catlin 1796-1872

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Portrait of a Woman

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Mary Catlin

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Mrs. George Catlin (Clara Bartlett Gregory)

George Catlin (American artist, 1796-1872) Mrs. Putnam Catlin (Mary Polly Sutton)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Portraits by American artist John Trumbull 1756–1843

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Martha Washington. 1793

John Trumbull 1756–1843, American painter, was the son of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut. He served in the Continental Army early in the Revolution as an aide to Washington. He resigned his commission in 1777, to devote himself to painting. In 1780, he went to London to study under Benjamin West. There he was imprisoned on suspicion of treason and finally deported. In 1784, he returned to London, where, at the suggestion of West and with the encouragement of Thomas Jefferson, he began his paintings of national history. Trumbull excelled in small-scale painting, especially of oil miniatures, the best of which were done in the United States between 1789 & 1793. In the latter year, he returned to London as secretary to John Jay & remained for 10 years as one of the commissioners to carry out provisions of the Jay Treaty. He returned to the United States in 1804, where he painted portraits, panoramas, and landscapes, & designed the meetinghouse in Lebanon, Conn.  In London from 1808 to 1816, he tried unsuccessfully to establish himself as a portraitist. Returning to New York in 1816, he secured a commission from Congress to decorate the Capitol rotunda.  In 1831, he founded the Trumbull Gallery at Yale, one of the earliest art museums in the English-speaking colonies, depositing much of his work there in exchange for an annuity.

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Governor Jonathan Trumbull Sr and Mrs Trumbull (Faith Robinson) 1783

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Five Miniatures Framed Together, 1791-93

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Mr. And Mrs. Thomas Russell 1793

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Mrs George Codwise (Anna Maria)

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Mrs. John Barker Church (Angelica Schuyler), Son Philip and Servant

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Mrs. Isaac Bronson (Anna Olcott)

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Misses Mary and Hannah Murray.

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Mrs. John Trumbull (Sarah Hope Harvey, 1774-1824), 1820-1823

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Sarah Trumbull with a Spaniel

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Elizabeth Ball Hughes

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Mrs. John Murray

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Mrs Charles Carroll Jr. (Harriet Chew)

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Sarah Elizsabeth Rogers Hopkins

John Trumbull (American artist, 1756 – 1843) Sarah Trumbull on her Deathbed

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today in Women's History - 1862, Ida B. Wells born in Mississippi

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, an African American journalist, newspaper editor, & early leader in the civil rights movement, born in  early in the Civil War in1862.

 Ida B. Wells-Barnett, anti-lynching crusader, suffragist, women’s rights advocate, journalist, & speaker, was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, to James & Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bell (Warrenton) Wells, the daughter of a Native American father & slave mother.  She died in Chicago, Illinois 1931, at the age of 69.

After emancipation, Lizzie & James continued to work for their former owners as a cook & carpenter respectively. When Ida was only 14, a tragic epidemic of Yellow Fever swept through Holly Springs killing her parents & youngest sibling.

The oldest in a family of 4 boys & 4 girls, Ida acquired from her parents a love of self-sufficiency that characterized her life. She kept the family together by securing a job teaching by passing the Mississippi teachers' exam & teaching  briefly in Holly Springs.

 She managed to continue her education by attending near-by Rust College. She attended Shaw University (later Rust College) in Holly Springs, &, after her move to Memphis,Tennessee, she attended summer sessions at Nashville's Fisk University.

In the early 1880s, she moved to Memphis & taught in the rural schools of Shelby County while preparing for the teachers' exam for the Negro public schools of Memphis. She lived with her aunt who helped raise her youngest sisters.

It was in Memphis, where she first began to fight (literally) for racial & gender justice. In 1884, she was asked by the conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a white man & ordered her into the smoking or “Jim Crow” car, which was already crowded with other passengers. Despite the 1875 Civil Rights Act banning discrimination on the basis of race, creed, or color, in theaters, hotels, transports, & other public accommodations, several railroad companies defied this congressional mandate & racially segregated its passengers. It is important to realize that her defiant act was before Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the fallacious doctrine of “separate but equal,” which constitutionalized racial segregation.

Wells wrote in her autobiography: "I refused, saying that the forward car [closest to the locomotive] was a smoker, & as I was in the ladies’ car, I proposed to stay. . . [The conductor] tried to drag me out of the seat, but the moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand. I had braced my feet against the seat in front & was holding to the back, & as he had already been badly bitten he didn’t try it again by himself. He went forward & got the baggageman & another man to help him & of course they succeeded in dragging me out.

Wells was forcefully removed from the train & the other passengers–all whites–applauded. When Wells returned to Memphis, she immediately hired an attorney to sue the railroad. She won her case in the local circuit courts, but the railroad company appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee, & it reversed the lower court’s ruling. This was the first of many struggles Wells engaged, & from that moment forward, she worked tirelessly & fearlessly to overturn injustices against women & people of color.

Her suit against the railroad company also sparked her career as a journalist. Many papers wanted to hear about the experiences of the 25-year-old school teacher who stood up against white supremacy. Her writing career blossomed in papers geared to African American & Christian audiences.

 In 1889, Wells became a partner in the newspaper Free Speech & Headlight. The paper was also owned by Rev. R. Nightingale– the pastor of Beale Street Baptist Church. He “counseled” his large congregation to subscribe to the paper, & it flourished, allowing her to leave her position as an educator.

In 1892, three of her friends were lynched. Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, & Henry Stewart. These three men were owners of People’s Grocery Company, & their small grocery had taken away customers from competing white businesses. A group of angry white men thought they would “eliminate” the competition so they attacked People’s grocery, but the owners fought back, shooting one of the attackers. The owners of People’s Grocery were arrested, but a lynch-mob broke into the jail, dragged them away from town, & brutally murdered all three.

Again, this atrocity galvanized her mettle. She wrote in The Free Speech:
"The city of Memphis has demonstrated that neither character nor standing avails the Negro if he dares to protect himself against the white man or become his rival. There is nothing we can do about the lynching now, as we are out-numbered & without arms. The white mob could help itself to ammunition without pay, but the order is rigidly enforced against the selling of guns to Negroes. There is therefore only one thing left to do; save our money & leave a town which will neither protect our lives & property, nor give us a fair trial in the courts, but takes us out & murders us in cold blood when accused by white persons."

Many people took the advice Wells penned in her paper & left town; other members of the Black community organized a boycott of white owned business to try to stem the terror of lynchings. Her newspaper office was destroyed as a result of the muckraking & investigative journalism she pursued after the killing of her three friends.

She could not return to Memphis, so she moved to Chicago. She however continued her blistering journalistic attacks on Southern injustices, being especially active in investigating & exposing the fraudulent “reasons” given to lynch Black men, which by now had become a common occurrence.

In Chicago, she helped develop numerous African American women & reform organizations, but she remained diligent in her anti-lynching crusade, writing Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.

She also became a tireless worker for women’s suffrage, & happened to march in the famous 1913 march for universal suffrage in Washington, D.C. Not able to tolerate injustice of any kind, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, along with Jane Addams, successfully blocked the establishment of segregated schools in Chicago.

Her crusade gaining momentum, Wells toured Great Britain in 1893 and 1894, speaking in packed churches & lecture halls. The "sweet-faced" orator spoke with "singular refinement, dignity and self-restraint," wrote a London observer. "Nor have I ever met any agitator so cautious and unimpassioned in speech. But by this marvelous self-restraint itself, she moved us all the more profoundly."

In 1895, Wells married the editor of one of Chicago’s early Black newspapers. In 1881, she accepted a better-paying teaching position in Woodstock, Tennessee, even as she dreamed of a more exciting career as a "journalist, physician or actress." She studied elocution and drama at Fisk University in Nashville-training that must have proved helpful when she later took to the lecture circuit.

She was 32 & already a noted journalist & activist, when she married.  Frederick Douglass had recruited Wells and Ferdinand Lee Barnett, a prosperous black attorney and publisher of The Conservator newspaper in Chicago, to help write a pamphlet protesting the exclusion of black participants from the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

Barnett, as militant as Wells, was once jailed for telling an audience that America was a "dirty rag" if it didn't protect all of its citizens. A widower with two sons, Barnett soon proposed to Wells, who eventually agreed to marry him. She persuaded Barnett, who was busy with his legal work, to sell The Conservator to her. Journalism, she later wrote in her autobiography, "was my first, and might be said, my only love." A few days after the wedding, Wells took charge of the newspaper.

Typically ahead of her time, the new bride adopted a hyphenated last name, Wells-Barnett. The couple had two daughters and two sons. For Wells, as for many career women, balancing work and family was a challenge. Her friend, suffrage leader (and spinster Susan B. Anthony, chided Wells that "since you have gotten married, agitation seems practically to have ceased."

She wrote: “I was married in the city of Chicago to Attorney F. L. Barnett, & retired to what I thought was the privacy of a home.” She did not stay retired long & continued writing & organizing. In 1906, she joined with William E.B. DuBois & others to further the Niagara Movement, & she was one of two African American women to sign “the call” to form the NAACP in 1909.

Although Ida B. Wells was one of the founding members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), she was also among the few Black leaders to explicitly oppose Booker T. Washington & his strategies. As a result, she was viewed as one the most radical of the so-called “radicals” who organized the NAACP & marginalized from positions within its leadership.

As late as 1930, she became disgusted by the nominees of the major parties to the state legislature, so Wells-Barnett decided to run for the Illinois State legislature, which made her one of the first Black women to run for public office in the United States. A year later, she passed away after a lifetime crusading for justice.

(Sources: &