Women at Work: Venturing into the Public Sphere

Women have been working side by side with each other and with men – fathers, brothers, partners, husbands, sons – throughout human existence. The theme “women at work” should therefore cover millennia. Being not so ambitious, this exhibit seeks to illuminate women's professional roles in only a snippet of American history: the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

During this time, women of the Ohio Valley region – mostly upper-class whites – stepped outside their homes to seek new roles as professionals and advocates in business, art, education, and the club movement. They were predecessors, colleagues, compatriots, and sometimes opponents of their sisters agitating for women’s rights and women’s suffrage. Nevertheless, they all ventured into the public sphere, redefining the roles women were expected to play. Whether working to affect social change, realize their creative potential, or simply provide for their families, these pioneers changed what it meant to be a woman at work.

Credits

Maureen Lane, Jana Meyer, Jennie Cole, Emily Benken, Brooks Vessels, & Danielle Spalenka