New Digital Exhibit Focuses on Bryn Mawr’s Summer School for Women Workers

Posted November 7th, 2013 at 11:55 am.

summer school

Courtesy of Bryn Mawr College Special Collections

“Here I have found a place for myself. I feel I am not just a part of a piece of machinery.”

~ Unidentified Summer School for Women Workers student

In 1921, a time when many worried that modern manufacturing methods were dehumanizing the U.S. labor force, Bryn Mawr College created “The Summer School for Women Workers in Industry,” a program designed to give working women the chance to experience a sampling of the sort of education that remained mostly a luxury for the upper class at the time.

The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education recently posted a digital exhibit devoted to the Summer School and the larger movement it spawned, titled “The Summer School for Women Workers: Diversity, Class, and Education.”

Created by Jennifer Redmond, former director of The Greenfield Digital Center, with editorial assistance from Assistant Director Evan McGonagill ’10, the exhibit draws mainly on materials found in Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections, and from the autobiography of Hilda Worthington Smith, a Bryn Mawr graduate and dean who largely developed the Summer School and was its director for 13 years. The exhibit features more than 30 period photos and original documents from the school and its students.

The Summer School for Women was in place from 1921 to 1938 (except 1935) and similar schools were later developed at Barnard College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in North Carolina.

For more on The Summer School for Women Workers and the students who attended, visit the exhibition.

Funded by The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation in Philadelphia, The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education aims to foster scholarship and dialogue on the history of women’s education by providing a digital space for inquiry and research into these diverse histories. While drawing on the abundant archival material held at Bryn Mawr College, The Greenfield Digital Center aims to reach out to a global audience, forging important linkages with libraries, archives, and universities interested in the history of women’s education.


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