Women and Science
Bowman, Martie | Calendar for 1936 depicting pilot Martie Bowman in her WACO INF biplane.
A remarkable piece of early aviation ephemera, this calendar was produced as a Christmas greeting by the early female aviator Marguerite (Martie) Bowman (1901-1985) and her husband Leslie, also a pilot. It depicts Bowman flying in her WACO INF biplane, registration number NC625Y, in formation with two others, and includes portraits of Bowman, her husband, and their daughter Larnie Bowman Allen. We have learned from one of the Bowmans’ grandchildren that Larnie joined the family profession, becoming a wing-walker at eight and soloing at twelve.
The Bowmans established an aviation business together and, during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Martie Bowman ferried planes from factories and regularly participated in air races. She competed in the 1930 Women’s Dixie Air Derby from Washington D. C. to Chicago, and won the Women’s International Air Derby of 1934 and the two-day women’s championship Shell Trophy Cup at Long Beach, California. In her biography of fellow pilot Phoebie Omlie, Janann Sherman recounts that during the Dixie Derby Bowman selflessly assisted Omlie, who had an injury, by waking up each hour during the night to apply medicated drops to her eyes (Sherman, Walking on Air, p. 65).
The Bowman’s papers are held at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and as of 2001 two of Martie Bowman’s planes were still registered as flight-worthy with the FAA.
[Olympia, WA], 1935.
Silver gelatin composite photograph (250 x 200 mm) with small tear-off monthly calendar for 1936. Inscribed “Merry Christmas, The Bowmans”. A few minor nicks and spots at the edges. Excellent, unused condition.
Suryaninov, Ruben. Greenham Common — Peace
A stylish and uncommon Soviet agitprop poster celebrating the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp.
During the early 1980s, in response to Soviet arms stockpiling in Eastern Europe, NATO began siting nuclear-tipped American Cruise missiles in Western Europe. In turn, the Soviet Union supported and infiltrated the growing Western anti-nuke movements, and also regularly used peace propaganda at home which positioned the US and NATO as aggressors. This particular poster, depicting two women whose clasped hands smash the perimeter fence at Greenham Common, is a excellent example of the genre and in superb condition. It was designed by the noted poster artist Ruben Suryaninov, who graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia in 1956 and specialised in public health and social subjects.
The Greenham Common protest was established in September of 1981 by the Welsh group Women for Life on Earth, who were opposed to the deployment of nuclear tipped cruise missiles at the site. What was initially planned as a single march became a permanent protest camp, one of the most significant and longest lasting women’s protests of the 20th century. The Greenham Common camp had no hierarchy, and its nature defined by the thousands of individual women who visited when they could or lived permanently onsite for years. The activists engaged in non-violent resistance by disrupting movement in and out of the gates, cutting down portions of the fence, and trespassing on military property, and they endured frequent police raids, arrests, and evictions. A large number of the protesters were middle aged and older; they considered themselves ordinary mothers and working women, and made a point of the fact were opposed to nuclear weapons for deeply personal reasons. Their gender was crucial to their message: “a woman’s place was not in the home, but at a protest. Women could use their identity as carers and mothers to say, this is about the future safety of our children. We weaponised traditional notions of femininity” (Suzanne Moore, “How the Greenham Common Protest Changed Lives”, The Guardian, March 20th, 2017).
Moscow: “Poster”, October 1984.
Mechanically printed poster (480mm x 670mm). Professionally mounted, framed, and glazed using archival materials. Illustration in blue, black and white depicting two female activists. Light rubbing and a little minor creasing at the extremities. Excellent condition.
War Manpower Commission | Women in the War—We Can't Win Without Them
An original Second World War poster promoting women in the wartime workforce, produced in 1942 by the War Manpower Commission. At the time, “Women in the War” was one of the most widely distributed images of a woman labouring in war production, unlike the “We Can Do It” poster, which was produced only for Westinghouse plants during a few weeks in 1943 and did not become iconic until the 1980s.
“Among the many agencies President Roosevelt had created during the war was the War Manpower Commission, formed in April 1942 to oversee war labor issues in the military, industrial, and civilian sectors. And in June 1942, the Office of War Information was formed to manage the flows of news and propaganda about the war to the public. By 1943, when the labor shortage was most acute, the two agencies worked together in concerted campaigns, targeting employers to hire women and women to become ‘production soldiers’” (Yellin, Our Mothers’ War, p. 44). Women labouring in factories, even in the service of the war effort, was controversial, with only 30 percent of husbands giving unqualified support to the idea of their wives performing such jobs. “Despite the tide of public opinion against working wives, War Manpower Commission director Paul McNutt had a strategy for quelling opposition: ‘The money appeal will continue strong,’ he said in 1943, but we’ll concentrate on patriotism’. Sure enough, all across the country, the public was bombarded with spirited print and radio ads, magazine articles, and posters with slogans like ‘Do the Job He Left Behind’ or ‘Women in the War—We Can’t Win Without Them’ depicting noble, pretty but serious, female war workers on the job... The campaigns glamorized war work, always showing that women could maintain their femininity and still be useful” (Yellin, pp. 45-46).
Examples of this important poster are held at numerous institutions, including the Library of Congress, Imperial War Museum, MOMA, and the Pritzker Military Museum. Copies in such beautiful, unused condition are uncommon in commerce.
Washington D.C.: US Govt. Printing Office, 1942.
Colour poster (28 x 40 in). Professionally mounted, framed and glazed using archival materials. Original creases from folding, else bright and fresh. Excellent condition. Professionally mounted, glazed and framed using archival materials.
[Embrace the Base] Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp Invite Women to Take Part in an International Action
A rare poster advertising Embrace the Base, one of the key mass actions at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. We have been able to locate only two copies in institutional collections, at the LSE Women’s Library and the Glasgow Women’s Library.
The Greenham Common protest was established in September of 1981 by the Welsh group Women for Life on Earth, who were opposed to the deployment of nuclear tipped cruise missiles at the site. What was initially planned as a single march became a permanent protest camp, one of the most significant and longest lasting women’s protests of the 20th century. In February 1982, for political reasons, the camp was made women only, and the following month they engaged in their first blockade of the base. Embrace the Base was their next major action. Taking place on December 12th & 13th, 1982, it saw 30,000 women from across from across the UK—drawn by chain letter, word of mouth, and posters such as this one—join hands to surround the nine mile perimeter fence. This copy of the poster seems to have been used in Birmingham, and includes instructions for obtaining coach tickets at the “Peace Centre (opp New Street Station)”, as well as local activist contact details, in marker pen.
As well as being an early and rare example of Greenham Common ephemera, this poster is particularly interesting in that is features a spider web, “a frequently reoccurring symbol in Greenham women’s cultural imaginary” because of its mythological and symbolic associations. “The metaphor of ‘building a web’ and being connected to each other in a ‘web-like structure’ populated Greenham women’s speech and writing. Alison Young describes Greenham women’s reclamation of the spider as revolving primarily around the notion of the spider’s web. She writes that the web ‘shows connections between women or between ideas; it can be begun at any point or at any time; each single strand is weak and fragile, yet when interwoven it is strong, beautiful and efficient’ (1990, 38). In line with Young’s reading, Roseneil writes that, ‘the web was a symbol of women's collective power, seemingly fragile, but actually very strong’” (1999, 179, ft39)” (Feigenbaum, Tactics and Technology: Cultural Resistance at the Greenham Women’s Peace Camp, PhD thesis, McGill University, April 2008).
The Greenham Common camp had no hierarchy, and its nature was defined by the thousands of individual women who visited when they could or lived permanently onsite for years. The activists engaged in non-violent resistance by disrupting movement in and out of the gates, cutting down portions of the fence, and trespassing on military property, and they endured frequent police raids, arrests, and evictions. A large number of the protesters were middle aged and older; they considered themselves ordinary mothers and working women, and made a point of the fact were opposed to nuclear weapons for deeply personal reasons. Their gender was crucial to their message: “a woman’s place was not in the home, but at a protest. Women could use their identity as carers and mothers to say, this is about the future safety of our children. We weaponised traditional notions of femininity” (Suzanne Moore, “How the Greenham Common Protest Changed Lives, The Guardian, March 20th, 2017).
“Greenham was powerful. It taught my generation about collective action, about protest as spectacle, a way of life, incredibly hard but sometimes joyous. Still the image of resistance for me is not the famous photograph of a striking miner confronting a policeman at Orgreave, it is the picture of Greenham women dancing in 1982: witchy, unarmed women dancing on a missile silo. This magical, powerful image shows how the peace camp both played on traditional images of the feminine and then subverted them. Greenham created an alternative world of unstoppable women. It changed lives.” (Moore, 2017).
...to Stop the Siting of Cruise Missiles Anywhere in Europe. December 12th & 13th. Embrace the Base on Sunday. Close the Base on Monday.
Mechanically printed poster (420mm x 580mm). Professionally mounted, framed and glazed using archival materials. White text and illustration of a missile caught in a spider’s web superimposed over a grey and red photograph of the mushroom cloud over Nagasaki. Marker pen notes at the bottom of the poster give contact details and instructions for travelling to the camp by bus from Birmingham. Vertical and horizontal creases from folding, a little light rubbing. Very good condition.