Women's History Month

In honor of March being celebrated as Women's History Month, I'd like to share this wonderful article written by Mrs E. N. Lockwood for an 1873 issue of Photographic Mosaics. Photographic Mosaics was published from 1866-1901, and highlighted new innovations and events happening in the world of photography at the time. As Mrs. Lockwood's passionate entreaty reminds us, women were considerably less involved in photography than men were in the mid to late 19th century, and as Naomi Rosenblum discusses in A History of Women Photographers:

"In both Britain and the Untied States, photographic societies (the main organizations promoting photography as a recreational expression) were mixed in their acceptance of women. Some were completely open, others limited access to women to certain times and occasions, and still others denied them membership altogether. Excuses for such restrictions revolved around the unladylike atmosphere of the club meetings, where male members smoked and used unacceptable language" (p. 53).

However, Rosenblum goes on to note that by 1920, 20% of professional photographers were women (p. 59). Apparently, unacceptable language and an unladylike atmosphere were not enough to discourage these determined women. I wonder what Mrs. Lockwood would think about the many women photographers successfully working today, nearly 140 years after her article was published. I suspect that she would be impressed with the progress that has been made, but might still implore women everywhere to, "interest yourselves in an art which by its very principles and uses belongs to you as well as men."

Sources:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Edward L. Wilson, Photographic Mosaics (Philadelphia: Benerman & Wilson, 1873).

Naomi Rosenblum, A History of Women Photographers (New York: Abbeville Press, 1994).