Skip Navigation
Falvey Library
You are exploring: Home > Blogs

The Printed Image: The Red Rose Girls

This March installment of The Printed Image highlights works in the Digital Library and circulating collection by a trio of illustrators from the ‘Golden Age of Illustration’ who also have a personal connection to Villanova, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, and Jessie Willcox Smith each enjoyed enormous success and popularity in art and illustration, and resided at the Red Rose Inn from 1901 to 1906, a private residence off of Spring Mill Road that still stands to this day.

Left to right: Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, Jessie Wilcox Smith, and Henrietta Cozens (standing)
Photo from The Red Rose Girls, Harry N. Abrams, 2000.

Nicknamed ‘The Red Rose Girls’ by their mentor and teacher Howard Pyle, the trio met in Pyle’s illustration class at the Drexel Institute in 1897 and soon shared a studio space at 1523 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. After spending time in Bryn Mawr and finding city life an increasing distraction from their work, they soon leased the Red Rose Inn, joined by Henrietta Cozens, who would tend to the house and gardens of the estate. At a time when professional opportunities for women were narrowly defined, and which were expected to be abandoned once they were married, the Red Rose Girls’ arrangement was practically revolutionary, creating a space where they could thrive in their artistic and professional careers, outside of the bounds of the normative gender expectations of the day.

With the Red Rose Inn set to be sold in 1906, their lease expired and the group was forced to move to an estate in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, nicknamed ‘Cogslea’. Once marriage entered into the picture for Elizabeth Shippen Green in 1911, the living arrangements of the group would fluctuate, and while they would continue to remain close, the creative and personal alliance found at the Red Rose Inn would not remain the same. [1]

Elizabeth Shippen Green-Elliott – Cover for The Wissahickon

Included in both Special Collections and the Digital Library, this small volume about the Wissahickon Park in northwest Philadelphia includes a black-and-white cover by Green. The cover displays the lush, bucolic style found within many of Green’s paintings and illustrations, influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and Romantics.

As the publication year and signature on the cover may imply, this illustration was made after Green’s marriage to Huger Elliott, an architect and instructor who would work at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts. Contradicting the conventional wisdom of the day, Green was able to continue her illustration career after marrying Elliott, maintaining her contract with Harper’s and illustrating 19 books, all while attending to her domestic and social responsibilities as Mrs. Huger Elliott. [1, pg. 194]

Cover illustration by Elizabeth Shippen Green Elliott, 1922

Violet OakleyThe Public Ledger, February 5, 1928

Newly added to the Digital Library, this issue of the Public Ledger includes a photographic reproduction of a medal designed by Oakley for the Philadelphia Award, which was created and sponsored by author and editor Edward W. Bok.

This was not Oakley’s only public commission within Pennsylvania. Earlier in 1906, Oakley would debut one of her most high profile commissions, a set of murals recounting the history of William Penn for the Governor’s Reception Room at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, which are still on display to the public. The murals were critical to her career as a muralist and enjoyed enormous popularity, though they were not without their critics. These murals would  be followed by commissions for the State Senate and Supreme Court Chambers, completed in 1919 and 1927 respectively.  

Portrait of Edward W. Bok (left), design by Violet Oakley for the Philadelphia Award (right).
Public Ledger, v. 184, no. 134, page 31

Jessie Willcox SmithA Child’s Garden of Verses and The Children of Dickens

The eldest of the Red Rose Girls, Smith is represented in the library’s circulating collections in two books: A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1905) and The Children of Dickens by Samuel McChord Crothers (1925). Her illustrations for both works display her trademark styles; children as subjects, realistic environments, and detailed costuming. But there is also a sense of idealism within them, a style referred to as ‘romantic realism’ by professor Mark W. Sullivan [2], where the imaginative world of a child is given precedence and legitimacy.

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.
from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.
from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.
from The Children of Dickens

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.
from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Smith found enormous success in publishing, with clients such as Harper’s, Collier’s, Scribner’s, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and illustrations for over 60 books. In 1991, she was the third woman inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, followed by Green in 1994 and Oakley in 1996. Of the original Red Rose Girls, only Smith and Cozens would remain together as companions and partners, until Smith’s death in 1935. [3]

You can learn more about the works of Green, Oakley, and Smith in the book The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love by Alice A. Carter, as well as Carter’s interview with the Illustration Department podcast, and in an essay by Villanova professor Mark W. Sullivan for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.

Mike Sgier is a Distinctive Collections Coordinator at Falvey Library.


[1] Carter, Alice A. The Red Rose Girls : An Uncommon Story of Art and Love. New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000.

[2] Sullivan, Mark W. “Red Rose Girls.” The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, 2015,

[3] “Jessie Willcox Smith.” Wikipedia, 31 Oct. 2020,


Cat in the Stax: Reading Recs for Women’s History Month

As Falvey’s Cat in the Stax, Rebecca writes articles covering a broad range of topics, from academics to hobbies to random events. All the while highlighting how Falvey Library can enhance your Villanova experience!

Wishing you all a wonderful spring break! Take this time to relax, hang out with friends, spend time with family. You deserve a rest after all the hard work you’ve put into the semester so far.

Photo courtesy of University of Iowa

March doesn’t just signify the arrival of spring break (and the coming of spring), it also marks the beginning of Women’s History Month, which runs from Mar. 1-Mar. 31. This observance first began in California in 1978 as a week-long celebration. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter made the first Presidential Proclamation declaring a week in March as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress passed legislation that designated March as Women’s History Month. Since then, this month has been a time to remember and celebrate the achievements of women throughout American history.

Whether you’re traveling or chilling at home over break, if you have some free time, check out some of these books to read in celebration of Women’s History Month. For your convenience, all these texts are available online through Falvey:

Happy reading! Enjoy the rest of the break, and I’ll see you all next week.

Rebecca Amrick

Rebecca Amrick is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Weekend Recs: Women Directors

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. 

Today marks the beginning of March, which means that it is officially Women’s History Month, a month dedicated to remembering and celebrating remarkable women in history. With midterms ending and Spring Break right around the corner, I think we all need a bit of a break from thick books and trying to cram your brain with knowledge. So, here are some recs from women directors, filmmakers, and writers to help you take a break and celebrate Women’s History Month.

If you have 10 minutes…and want the highlights reel of some of the most successful female filmmakers at the present, read this article.

If you have 14 minutes and 18 seconds…and want to watch something (a little) educational, watch this TED Talk about female directors from film writer, critic, and reporter Alicia Malone.

If you have 43 minutes and 4 seconds…and are an avid podcast listener, listen to “Hollywood’s First Female Directors” episode of the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

If you have 1 hour and 50 minutes…and like biopics, watch Sofia Coppola’s latest film Priscilla, available to stream on Max. This film will definitely give you a much different perspective on Priscilla’s relationship with Elvis Presley than Elvis (2022).

If you have 1 hour and 53 minutes…and like dark movies, watch Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, available to stream online through Falvey. I know it only came out in 2020 (and maybe the buzz from Saltburn is skewing my perspective), but I think it’s earned its place as a “classic.”

Bonus: although the satire sometimes gets lost in translation, if you like dark films, American Psycho, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection, was also directed by a woman.

If you have 2 hours and 11 minutes…and like queer cinema (or just like period pieces), watch Portrait of a Lady on Fire, available to stream online through Falvey. Per most lesbian period pieces, it’s a slow burn romance (in French), and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Bonus: I’ve recommended it before, but I believe it’s a must watch. If you like 90s queer cinema, watch The Watermelon Woman, directed by Cheryl Dunye, available to stream online through Falvey. It’s the perfect transition from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, as it deals with the unique history of Black queer women through a mockumentary style.

If you have 3 hours and 58 minutes…and want to watch a double feature from a Black female director, watch Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Love and Basketball (available to stream on Paramount+) and The Secret Life of Bees (available to stream on Hulu and Paramount+). Gina Prince-Bythewood, who you may recognize most recently for The Woman King, is consistently a strong director for female-driven stories that center women of color.

Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant in Falvey Library.

1 People Like This Post

Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart on “A Womanist Path to Ending White Christian America” on 3/29

A Womanist Path to Ending White Christian America Poster

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. 

The recent murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Daunte Wright, and Patrick Lyoya, and others are only the latest episodes in a brutal history of racial violence in this country — racial violence that is the consequence of a white supremacist system. A troubling part of that reality is that white supremacy is grounded in Christian history, texts, ideas, and institutions. Is Christian faith possible apart from anti-Blackness? In this session, we will explore this question as we contemplate the meaning of the end of “White Christian America.” We will study the liberative possibilities found in womanist theology, a discourse developed by Black women.
This session will be facilitated by Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart. Reverend Naomi is an ordained minister, justice advocate, public administrator, and adjunct professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University.
This ACS-approved event, co-sponsored by Falvey Library, Center for Peace and Justice Education, and Theology and Religious Studies, is free and open to the public. A light lunch will be served.



Weekend Recs: The Bechdel Test

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 minuteswatch 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.

Photo by cottonbro studio

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.



TBT: Color Our Collections—Women’s History Month

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.





Cat in the Stax: Women’s History Month

By Ethan Shea

"Photo from garment strike in New York City (1913)"

Photo from garment strike in New York City, courtesy of Library of Congress (1913)

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.

"Military Mapping Maidens (3Ms) case in Falvey Library"

Military Mapping Maidens (3Ms) in Falvey Library

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:

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Dig Deeper: Women, Climate Change, Law and Data

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.

1 People Like This Post

Women’s History Month – Transcribing 19th-Century Friendship Letters

By Anamartha Hinojosa 

Letter, To: “My Dear Sarah,” June 29, 1818.

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: 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. 




1 People Like This Post

Curious Cat: Women’s History Month

By Elijah McDow and Ethan Shea

"Curious Cat Banner"

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"

“My sister.”
—Joe Evans ’25


"Emily Cavenagh"

“My grandma.”
—Emily Cavenagh ’24


"Group of students interviewed for Curious Cat"

“My high school teacher Diane Haleas.”
—Nicolette LaHood ’25

“Mother Teresa.”
—Alyson Ludden ’25

“Blake Lively.”
—Eden Fernandez ’25

"Students interviewed for Curious Cat in Falvey"

“My mom.”
—Liam Maher ’25

“Rosa Parks.”
—Harrison Farrell ’25

“My grandmother.”
—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.

Headshot of Ethan Shea



Next Page »


Last Modified: March 11, 2022

Ask Us: Live Chat
Back to Top