Final Day

As far as an internship is concerned, my time at the Archives was a little bit different. I was more so researching topics to gain an understanding of how Gender and Women’s Studies can related to the field as well as using what I’ve learned and apply it to what I’ve been reading. I’m sure since this is the first time anyone has been an intern at the Archives that the future will hold more possibilities involving continuing in making a guide to certain documents that would be of interest to GWS students.

I enjoyed my time and would strongly recommend that anyone interested in researching and archiving to involve themselves in the Archives because it does require discipline and analysis of text, which could translate to doing work in college and beyond.

Awareness Week ’78

The Women’s League eventually changed its name into the Association for Women’s Students. They held an event called Awareness Week throughout that  focused on male and female relations on campus.

Warren Farrell, a prominent fixture in the women’s movement held a consciousness-raising weekend where the objective was to improve female/male and same sex communication. One activity that was available included diary writing, where participants could record their insights and fears relating to the observation of power relationships between men and women. I’ll post some pics below!

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Women’s League at Western

There were a ton of documents dedicated to the Women’s League (I’m talking boxes). I took a couple of weeks to look through it all and I feel as if I barely scratched the surface. The League originated in 1914, and the members were every woman on Western’s campus. The freshmen were given handbooks, possibly to ease the transition from home to school and make them feel welcome. There were a lot of rules, even a guide on what is appropriate to wear to certain campus events. It may be because of the time period that there were rules on how to dress, and that there were strict curfew rules.

It’s cool to see that this organization welcomed the freshmen ladies as soon as they stepped on campus. The smaller size of the college probably made the process easier. There are a few organizations on campus dedicated to groups of women coming together for fellowship, but it would be nice to possibly have a similar group on campus in the future offering some sort of initiation for women students from the GWS department.

Impressions

I recently read an article from a Kalamazoo newspaper published in the 1970s aimed toward women about how to prevent being raped. While some people may think we have progressed in feminist efforts to abolish rape culture, the article could have been in a magazine or newspaper published today. It ran along some of the same messages of “don’t go out late at night” “dress this way” “avoid drinking too much (or at all)”. These not so subtle messages that put blame on women were very blatant.

I wasn’t exactly surprised at the article, but more so by how I have come across similar comments from people in everyday conversation. It shows how this way of thinking has been passed down through the years.

How archival research relates to the present.

It’s my second official week with my internship at the WMU Archives and Regional History. It’s a bit deceiving at first, it just looks like a smaller version of Waldo Library. After taking a tour, the size was shocking. There is a back section with factory sized shelves full of boxes and file cabinets. I’ve been getting into the daily lives of women in Kalamazoo. On my first day I read a book with the minutes of the Ladies’ Library Association of Kalamazoo from the 1800s! It was all handwritten (in cursive), and it was awesome to see such an everyday item from so long ago.

Today I’m working with microfilm (I had a difficult time working the machine at first). I’m currently looking through some Kalamazoo newspapers from the 1960s-80s.

Sensitive Topics

One of the most controversial subjects discussed in this country is that of abortion. Although I came to think that most people were pretty liberal on the subject, a lot of the newspaper articles I’ve read say otherwise. I also had to remind myself that I was reading newspapers from the late 70s, not too long after Roe v. Wade. They make for an interesting read.

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Black Feminism

Focus News was a publication based in Kalamazoo that was made with the Black community in mind. Topics such as Black owned businesses, student life at WMU, and other subjects such as abortion were discussed.

I came across some cartoon strips and articles that I found interesting, with this first one I’m posting about standards of beauty. Black women’s features have been mocked for years, often being seen as too much. Big hair, lips, and darker skin is being heralded as enviable traits now, but among non-black races. It was interesting to come across this as it was published in the seventies and how relevant it is today when Kylie Jenner is given credit for her drawn on lips and we see hairstyles popular among Black women on white models in magazines and on the runway.

Cartoon strip