Please join us on Wednesday, March 29, from 12-1:30 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Speakers’ Corner for a workshop titled, “A Womanist Path to Ending White Christian America” featuring Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart.
Please join us on Wednesday, March 29, from 12-1:30 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Speakers’ Corner for a workshop titled, “A Womanist Path to Ending White Christian America” featuring Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart.
Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week.
Happy Friday and Happy Women’s History Month, Wildcats! Over the past century, Hollywood has earned some well-warranted criticisms for its portrayals of women (among a host of other minority groups with lackluster representations, to put it incredibly lightly). While some films are outright sexist and misogynistic, others, whether intentional or not, center women’s stories around male characters and story arcs.
The Bechdel test, named after comic artist and writer Alison Bechdel, is a way to assess movies, on a pass-fail basis, for their bare-minimum portrayal of women. Passing the Bechdel test only has 3 rules: the film must feature (1) two named female characters (2) that talk with each other (3) about anything other than a man/men. These exchanges between female characters do not have to be long (or even positive).
With such a low-bar, it would seem nearly impossible to not pass the Bechdel test, and yet, movies, new and old, still manage to fail. In celebration of Women’s History Month, this weekend’s recs dive into the Bechdel test and shares some of my personal favorite Bechdel-passing content.
If you have 12 seconds…and need some humor in your day, watch the TikTok poking fun at how easy passing the Bechdel test is.
If you have 1 minute and 30 seconds…and want a surprising list of stereotypical “film bro” movies that pass the test (and why they pass), watch this TikTok.
If you have 1 minute and 45 seconds…and want a first-hand look at how silly the test can sometimes get, especially when filmmakers are purposely adding in dialogue simply to pass the test, watch this Rick and Morty clip.
If you have 12 minutes…and don’t know much about the Bechdel test, read this Backstage article. This article gives the basic rundown of the Bechdel Test and its limitations (and even explains some similar tests to score your favorite films on).
If you have 16 minutes…watch this video essay on why the Bechdel Test isn’t solving sexism in film.
If you have 1 hour and 38 minutes…and need to decompress from midterms with a good laugh, go see 80 for Brady in theaters. The film is a surprisingly funny film about a group of four women in their 80s (composed of some of the most iconic women in Hollywood, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Lily Tomlin), who embark on a journey to get tickets to the Super Bowl. Although it features some pretty heavy Tom-Brady-centric conversations, at its core, it is a heartwarming narrative about female friendships and growing older.
If you have 1 hour and 54 minutes…and like campy, colorful action flicks, watch Gunpowder Milkshake. Featuring actresses such as Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, and Angela Bassett, Gunpowder Milkshake is a visually stunning, female-led film perfect for those who like ridiculous action.
Bonus: If you prefer more traditional action movies, watch Black Widow. Although it is an MCU film, Black Widow can act as a stand-alone film that centers the story of two sisters who set out to topple an empire of corrupt men in power.
If you have 2 hours and 5 minutes…and want to watch a biopic about one of the bravest women in American history, watch Harriet. A perfect bridge from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, as she was absolutely pivotal to both, this film follows Harriet Tubman’s fight for her freedom and the freedom of hundreds of other Black people in the South. Harriet boasts an amazing performance from Cynthia Erivo (and, as with every film she’s in, Janelle Monae) and beautiful cinematography.
Bonus: If historical action-dramas are your thing, watch The Woman King. Starring the astounding Viola Davis, this based-on-a-true-story film follows General Nanisca, leader of the Agojie, an all-female group of warriors in the West African kingdom of Dahomey.
If you have 2 hours and 8 minutes…and haven’t seen this absolute classic yet, watch A League of Their Own, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. Set during World War II, this film follows a team of female baseball players as they set out to boost morale during the war through an American past time while combating sexism.
If you have 11 hours…and prefer books to movies (and love period pieces), read Little Women, available at Falvey. Written by Louisa May Alcott, this absolute coming-of-age classic follows the story of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth, living during the Civil War. Although the novel contains its fair share of romance, at its heart, the story is of the March sisters and their (sometimes very chaotic) love for each other.
Bonus: If you haven’t already seen it, watch Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation, a film that centers complex (albeit white) female characters that feel real. (Plus, it features some outstanding women in Hollywood including Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Eliza Scanlen, Meryl Streep, and Emma Watson).
Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.
Flowers, rain, and signs of spring mark March as Women’s History Month! Today’s TBT features coloring pages dating from 1881-1917, depicting various women doing what were once considered “men-only” activities: climbing trees, rowing boats, and voting. In modern terms, these women were definitely girlbosses, and we love to see it!
Women’s History Month celebrates the achievements and triumphs women have contributed to the US throughout the course of history, while also acknowledging the struggles that they faced to claim these rights and skills. If you have some spare time, check out this archive for access to all the illustrations.
Pick one to color! Personally, I’d have to go with The Gentlewoman issue from July, 1917.
Isabel Choi ’26, is Communication & Marketing Assistant at Falvey Library.
During the early twentieth century, women working in textile factories were subject to terrible working conditions and inhumane treatment by employers. In addition to grueling hours and minuscule pay, workers were often locked in the factory to prevent them from taking breaks.
Clearly, this was a health and safety violation, as was tragically made clear during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, an industrial disaster that killed 146 garment workers, 123 of which were women and girls.
Such poor treatment led to years of strikes within the textile industry. The photo above shows three women garment workers on strike in New York City. These protests were essential to the establishment of unions and labor rights in the U.S.
In recognition of such contributions by brave women, the month of March is dedicated to celebrating women’s history, and the 31-day celebration begins today! Considering recent challenges to women’s reproductive rights, recognizing Women’s History Month is more important than ever.
March was chosen to be Women’s History Month because it coincides with International Women’s Day on Mar. 8. At first, Women’s History Month was only a week, the first of which occurred in 1978 as a local celebration in California.
Two years later, President Jimmy Carter declared the first National Women’s History Week to be the week of March 2-8, 1980. It was not until 1987 that March was officially declared Women’s History Month. Read more here!
Here at Falvey, there are countless resources that highlight women’s achievements. For example, the recent Art of War exhibit on the first floor of Falvey featured historical artifacts showing how women took part in the Second World War. Check out this blog to learn more!
Below are some more resources for Women’s History Month you can find right here at Falvey:
Ethan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.
By Merrill Stein
As we approach the end of March, Women’s History Month and look towards Earth Day in April, consider listening to this recent podcast from the OECD, Women, climate change and data: Why we need to better understand the environment-gender nexus.
Take a moment to consider these research guides and YouTube videos from the Library of Congress, Smithsonian and U.S. National Archives.
Examine the Woman in the Law (Peggy) resource in the HeinOnline database, a subscription courtesy of the Charles Widger School of Law Library. The “Peggy” collection features more than one million pages of contemporary and historical works related to women’s roles in society and the law.
Give thought to any possible gender gaps in common resources to which we interact with frequently, as indicated by this recent study from the University of Pennsylvania. Read about women in the digital world in the special issue of Information, Communication & Society, Volume 24, Issue 14 (2021).
Dig Deeper resources:
Merrill Stein is Political Science Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.
By Anamartha Hinojosa
Transcribing letters from archives can transport you to the not-so-distant past. Although society inevitably changes, the continuity of human experiences remains. I learned this while working with Spanish letters from the Barry-Hayes papers in Villanova’s Digital Library. As a native Spanish speaker, I jumped at the opportunity to translate nineteenth-century letters that had gone unnoticed. Together with Rebecca Oviedo, Distinctive Collections Librarian/ Archivist, and Micaela Miralles-Bianconi, a history graduate from the class of 2021, we were able to transcribe and translate letters received by Philadelphian Sarah Barry Hayes (1798-1821), who was the great-niece of Commodore John Barry (1745-1803). Most of the Spanish letters Sarah received were love letters written by Joseph Moran, who was from Cuba. The letters contained remarks of youthful affection, yearning caused by long distance, and even jealousy at times; all of which sound so relatable. This project shed light on both the Latinx presence in the Northeast and the development of an intercultural relationship, as well as the ordinary life of a young socialite in the 1800s.
Once the Spanish letters were finished, I was introduced to another important person in Sarah’s life, her dearest friend Harriet Cottringer (1799-1865). It appears that Harriet and Sarah became close friends in Philadelphia and remained friends after Harriet moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Bridget Cullen Cottringer (Harriet’s mother) decided to open a boarding school in Alexandria with her five daughters (Caroline, Harriet, Ann, Cornelia, and Betsy) after her husband, Garrett Cottringer (1759-1816), passed away. It was truly incredible to see these women take matters into their own hands and succeed on their own. In a letter to Sarah, Harriet wrote, “I would not exchange situations with the happiest bride in the world, and I am convinced I am happier than many of them although I labour for my daily bread” (vudl:161670).
The letters Harriet wrote to Sarah were my favorite to transcribe because it was like opening a chat between two best friends frozen in time. Although we only have one side of the conversation, its vivid content nevertheless provides a descriptive account of their friendship. Harriet and Sarah discuss what any twenty-year-old would with their best friend: their day-to-day, fun activities, meeting up with friends, attending parties, boys, gossip, and of course, how much they mean to each other.
My favorite part of transcribing letters is researching the people mentioned in them. Thankfully, Harriet talks about a lot of people in her letters to Sarah. Sometimes it is easy to identify the person – through a Google search or websites like Find a Grave – when Harriet writes details such as their full name, where they are from, or who are their acquaintances. It is also helpful that Harriet and Sarah associate with well-known families like the Lee’s (as in Robert E. Lee). Notably, Harriet and her sisters are mentioned several times in the diary of Charles Francis Adams, the son of President John Quincy Adams. However, sometimes we are not as lucky and cannot identify the individual when only a first name or last name is given; even more so when Harriet and Sarah began writing names in code. It seems that they came up with code names while they were visiting each other. The code names appear to be for men because they say, “Wax came to Exeter…we have seen him several times, he looks quite well,” “Chicken is also a constant visitor, he inquires constantly if we have heard from our friends in Philadelphia,” and “Sponge joined us…he has his right arm in a sling” (vudl:161775). Although it is frustrating that we may never know who they were talking about, I find it so amusing to visualize Harriet and Sarah laughing while using these code names.
It is evident through Harriet’s letters that Harriet and Sarah had a beautiful friendship. Their constant letters attest that they were each other’s best friend and confidant. In one letter Harriet wrote, “I cherish you in my heart and look forward to a happier day when we shall again be united in that friendship which has subsisted between us so long and which I hope will continue to the end of our lives. In your next letter I shall expect a minute detail of every thing relating to you and your family” (vudl:161540). They also deeply cared for one another. On one occasion there was a rumor going around in Philadelphia that Harriet was engaged to a Mr. Morgan, so Harriet wrote to Sarah, “I must employ you as a friend to contradict it most positively whenever you hear it mentioned, for I assure it is entirely false” (vudl:161660). Sadly, this friendship was cut short because Sarah died at the age of 23 in 1821. But her memory lived on because Harriet was married in 1824 and named one of her daughters Sarah Hayes Brent (1830-1862) in honor of her dear friend.
For more on the Spanish love letters, check out Rebecca Oviedo’s Archival Outlook article: https://mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=715946. The letters referenced above can all be found in Series VII: Sarah Barry Hayes in the Digital Library.
Anamartha Hinojosa is an M.A. student in History at Villanova University.
After a two-year hiatus, Falvey’s Curious Cat blog has returned! March is Women’s History Month, so Falvey’s Curious Cats, Elijah McDow and Ethan Shea, decided to ask some Falvey patrons to name a woman who inspires them. Ethan and Elijah received a total of eight responses from students around the Library. Here are their responses:
—Joe Evans ’25
—Emily Cavenagh ’24
“My high school teacher Diane Haleas.”
—Nicolette LaHood ’25
—Alyson Ludden ’25
—Eden Fernandez ’25
—Liam Maher ’25
—Harrison Farrell ’25
—Thomas Principe ’25
Elijah McDow is a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Student.
Ethan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.
Amanda Gorman is making history.
She became the youngest poet to perform at a presidential inauguration when she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the Harvard University graduate was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017 by Urban Word. The youth poet laureate of Los Angeles, Gorman also became the first poet commissioned to write a poem for the Super Bowl, which she performed at Super Bowl LV on Feb. 2, 2021.
Celebrating Women’s History Month, dig deeper and explore these resources highlighting Poet Amanda Gorman.
For help with your research, please contact the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian Jutta Seibert.
Looking for poems by a particular author? Visit the English subject guide.
Celebrate Women’s History Month by exploring transcripts of Emilie Davis’ diaries. Davis was an African American woman living in Philadelphia during the U.S. Civil War. In three of her pocket diaries (1863, 1864, and 1865) she “recounts black Philadelphians’ celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, nervous excitement during the battle of Gettysburg, and their collective mourning of President Lincoln.” Her diaries provide readers the opportunity to “experience the Civil War in real time as events unfolded for Americans.”
The original diaries, part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s (HSP) collections, were transcribed by Villanova students for The People’s Contest: A Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project. Working to advance scholarship on Pennsylvania during the Civil War era, the Richards Civil War Era Center, The Pennsylvania State University Libraries, Senator John Heinz History Center, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania curated The People’s Contest to highlight archives and special collections throughout the commonwealth.
Led by Judith Giesberg, PhD, Robert M. Birmingham Chair in the Humanities, Professor of History at Villanova University, Memorable Days: The Emilie Davis Diaries project features scans and transcriptions from Emilie’s pocket diaries. Support for the website project was provided by Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library, The Department of History, Department of Communication, and the Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning. Transcriptions and annotations were conduction by Villanova students. View the full list of contributors on the project webpage. Website development was provided by Michael Mafodda, MBA, and Samantha Viani ’14 CLAS.
Read Davis’ diaries here. For additional resources visit the links below:
Explore more Women’s History Month resources in this blog by Susan Turkel, Social Sciences Librarian, and this resource list by Merrill Stein, Political Science Librarian. For help with your research, please contact the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian Jutta Seibert.
In 1987, the U.S. Congress declared March to be National Women’s History Month. Coordinated by the National Women’s History Alliance, this annual celebration seeks to recognize “the diverse and significant historical accomplishments of women.”
This year’s theme is Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
Want to read about women’s suffrage? Historian Susan Ware recommends these five books:
3. All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900 by Martha S. Jones (e-book or print book at Falvey)
5. The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States by Alexander Keyssar (e-book or print book at Falvey)
Are you doing research on a gender-related topic? Falvey has you covered! We have everything you need: journals, books, search engines for finding resources, and databases containing primary source materials to answer all of your gender and women’s studies questions! Visit the our Subject Guide on Gender & Women’s Studies, and be sure to check out these resources:
We subscribe to all of the top journals in the field, including:
Great interdisciplinary databases to help you find journal articles, books, news, and more:
GenderWatch includes indexing, abstracts, and full text of scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, books, conference proceedings, dissertations, and reports in many disciplines on topics relevant to gender studies. This database is particularly strong in its coverage of dissertations and non-mainstream magazines and newspapers.
Gender Studies Database provides indexing and abstracts for academic and professional journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, discussion and working papers, theses & dissertations and other sources. GSD combines Women’s Studies International and Men’s Studies databases with the coverage of sexual diversity issues, and is very strong in its coverage of health sciences journals as well as other academic journals.
Primary sources and historical documents:
Digital Transgender Archive (Free to all users)
This resource provides “an online hub for digitized historical materials, born-digital materials, and information on archival holdings throughout the world” related to transgender history. The project is based at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and is searchable and browsable by map, institution, collection, topic, and genre. The contents of the collection focus on materials created before 2000.
This database provides access to primary sources documenting the changing representations and lived experiences of gender roles and relations from the nineteenth century to the present. Offers sources for the study of women’s suffrage, the feminist movement, the men’s movement, employment, education, the body, the family, and government and politics. Falvey licenses this resource from Adam Matthew Digital.
The Gerritsen Collection features digital copies of more than 4000 books and pamphlets and complete runs of more than 200 periodicals related to women’s history in general and the movement for women’s rights in particular. It includes materials addressing both the pro-feminist and anti-feminist case, as well as other materials that provide an objective look at the condition of women in a given time of place. Its coverage is international, and extends from the middle of the 15th century to the middle of the 20th century. Each of the books, pamphlets, and periodical titles has its own listing in Falvey’s library catalog.
The Duke Gender Studies e-book collection includes “essential titles and field-defining scholarship in queer theory, gay and lesbian studies, transgender studies, feminist theory, and women’s studies.” This collection is comprised of more than 500 titles published between 1990 and the present. Each book is fully downloadable and printable (chapter by chapter), and is accessible by an unlimited number of VU community members at once.
Offers digital copies of writings by early modern women (1500-1700). The name of the collection, derived from the Latin word for “lost,” alludes to the ephemeral nature of women’s writings which were rarely published and widely shared. Genres represented in the collection range from poetry and religious writings to letters, recipes, and account books. Includes manuscript descriptions with partial transcriptions and detailed annotations where available. The collection is part of the Perdita Project. The manuscripts are held by libraries and archives in the US and UK. Includes pdf files for all manuscripts. Licensed from Adam Matthew Digital.
Film and Video:
Academic Video Online, or AVON, offers more than 70,000 films and documentary TV episodes from distributors including PBS, the BBC, Bullfrog Films, Ro*Co Films, California Newsreel, and many others. Most films include searchable full text transcripts. Here are some subcollections focused on women’s history:
Data and statistics:
WomanStats Project (Free to all users)
The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world with qualitative and quantitative information on over 260 indicators of women’s status in 174 countries. To view the data, you first need to create a free account.
Women, Peace and Security Index (Free to all users)
Statista is a user-friendly data portal offering tables, graphs, reports, and more on over 80,000 topics from more than 18,000 sources. Women- and gender-related data points covered include information on health, employment and career, consumer behavior, women’s portrayal in media, political behavior, demographics, and public opinion.
For help with your research in Gender and Women’s Studies, please contact the GWS Librarian Jutta Seibert.
Susan Turkel, MA, MLS is a Social Sciences Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.