What Shall Women Wear? (1869)

by A. K. Gardner, M. D.

Women are born slaves. From their very birth they are fettered, and till they are laid in their coffin their limbs are never free. Petticoats float around their forms in airy fetters, which prohibit any free movement, which debars them from running, jumping, ascending hills or stairs, riding, active walking—in fact, of any prolonged movement requiring freedom of limb and unconstrained action. The only species of mankind that can be compared to her is the Turk, who fetters his limbs in almost an equal manner, but otherwise he is free.

Woman, additionally, however, restrains the use of her arms almost as much as her lower extremities. Often she envelops them with a flappy covering, which is constantly in the way, getting into one’s soup-plate, catching on every hook, nail, knot and projection. But if by chance of fashion it be tight and less obnoxious at a dinner party, the sleeve commences so low down upon the arm that it is impossible to elevate the hand even up to the head, far less to be able to reach to turn on the gas, to put a book on a shelf, to open a window, even to arrange a stray lock upon the head, and all hairdressing must be done before the garments are put on, or devolved upon an assistant waiting-maid.

As if this were not sufficient restraint, the fabrics from which her garments are made are of such flimsy material that they can ill suffer the slightest contact with the ordinary objects that surround them—a thorn, a splinter, or a nail brings desolation and incapacity; a drop of rain or a spark of fire are alike fearful, and the care and time necessary to safely pass a splash upon the sidewalk is only less than the difficulty man experiences in getting around the voluminous trains of the lady herself.

It would be useless to inquire “What shall women wear?” if the question had reference to the decrees of fashion, for, besides the fact stated already, that woman so dresses herself that she is rendered incapable of any active employment, she is also so completely under the thralldom of fashion, that it would be useless for me to make any attempt to interfere with or regulate the style of her external apparel.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.

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A Look at the Kinder Garten

The Kinder Garten was instituted in Germany about thirty years, ago. Its founder was Frederic Froebel. Its name implies what it is, a school for children. No books are used, but instruction is imparted by stories, games, objects, and some light physical labor, to which must be coupled the fact that each child has a little garden in the school grounds, appropriated to its sole use, where it can indulge in horticultural tastes to its fullest extent.

Friedrich Fröbel

Friedrich Fröbel

The institution, we are told, was for awhile looked upon as a Quixotism of the founder, but when it turned out to be but the inception of a grand educational plan, afterwards propounded, it quickly became popular, and is now almost inseparable from the German schools of higher grade. The design of the author was to separate the knowledge or thought of study from the early acquirements of youth.

The interior of one of these schools is described by visitors to them as a great curiosity In one at Bremen the children are arranged in classes, and have patterns before them for everything they do, the teacher superintending the labor, and every pains is taken to impart as much elementary instruction as possible. The moment the pupil shows signs of fatigue or uneasiness the employment is changed. All weariness is avoided. The room for exercises is very large, and neatly ornamented. The boys and girls all enter promiscuously and are ordered to assume some position corresponding to the story the teacher is about to tell. It may be that of a regiment, as the teacher narrates the incidents of a certain battle. First comes a battle song, in which all join. Then the battle commences in earnest. After the victory a peaceful tale is narrated in verse, all joining in the chant and all assuming attitudes to suit the different styles of narration and subjects. So the exercises are continually varied, and the child learns while amusing itself.

Certain doctors, more sensitive on such matters than sensible, think that religious instruction is too much neglected in these schools. They do not object to the training as far as it goes, nor the complete code of morals adopted for their control; but, oh! the infant should learn metaphysics, and the doctrine of Christianity, and many other such things which not only belong to mature years, but which, alas! are even then too deep for human comprehension.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Newspapers Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily, The Revolution, and the National Citizen and Ballot Box.

Source: The Revolution, July 16, 1868
Image Source: Mother’s songs, games and stories: Fröbel’s “Mutter-und Kose-Lieder” (1888)

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Anna: I Wish I Could Do Something

“Have you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin?” said a lady to her friend, a few days since. “Yes,” was the reply, “and O, how it makes me long to do something. Men ought to read it. All men ought to read it – they can do something.”

But cannot woman do something? True she cannot nor does she wish to go to the ballot-box, but lies there not a power back of this? Was not Hannibal ever an enemy in the Roman name? When only nine years old, his father made him take a solemn oath never to be at peace with Rome. Is not slavery a far greater foe to our country than was Rome to the Carthaginian nation? And O mothers, as we wish our country free of her greatest enemy, as we wish our children to enjoy the blessings of life, liberty, and happiness, temporal and eternal, let us follow the example of Hamilcar, and early and perseveringly teach our sons how vile, how dreadful a thing slavery is, let us teach them eternal hostility to slavery.

In the spirit of kindness let us show them the guilt and awful responsibility of those who, in any way, sustain this withering, blighting, heart-rending, soul-destroying curse of American Slavery. And O, as we value all the sacred endearments of home, as we love our husbands, as we cherish our babes and watch with jealous care lest some insidious foe tear them from our bosoms, let us feel for those mothers, with affections as deep, as strong, as holy as ours, whose little ones are snatched from them, not only by the tyrant Death, but by a more cruel, more dreadful tyrant Slavery, sustained by the laws of our free country. “O, these are noble laws – just laws – most equitable laws.”

How solemn the thought that from thousands of souls enslaved, is daily going up into the ear of Avenging Justice the cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our cause?” Why did Queen Mary “fear the prayers of John Knox more than an army of her enemies?” Can we not do something? Has the Christian power to prevail with God? Let our cry ascend before “the God of the earth,” not for judgment on the oppressor, but that God would give him a better heart, that he would “let the oppressed go free.”

From the Independent

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Source: Frederick Douglass’ Paper, July 9, 1852
Image Source: Uncle Tom’s cabin

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The New Fourth of July (1915)

Enough powder is being consumed on the other side of the water without wasting any here on a Fourth of July celebration. Thanks to the spread of the Safe and Sane Fourth idea the past few years, the old-fashioned celebration with the indiscriminate use of fire-crackers and other explosives entailing scores of deaths and hundreds of injuries is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The country is now prepared to go a step further and make the birthday of the nation the occasion to instruct the immigrant in the principles of liberty and democracy for which America stands. Some of the European nations have the idea that this country is a vast conglomerate of people from all corners of the earth and that we lack, therefore, national ideals, national unity, national loyalty.

Dr. Sidney L. Gulick proposes that the most fitting celebration of the Fourth of July as the Nation’s Birthday is to make it also the Citizen’s Birthday, that on this day citizenship be given to aliens, and that those born in this country be formally admitted to citizenship on the Fourth nearest their twenty-first birthday. Properly carried out, this would call for processions, orations welcoming to citizenship, responses and oaths of allegiance to the Stars and Stripes in every community. In a modified form more than fifty cities have planned to carry out this idea.

They will call the day Americanization Day, and will make it an occasion of welcome to all those within their gates who have come from other lands with different ideals of liberty. America opens its doors of opportunity to the peoples of all nations. Is it too much to ask that those who enjoy the benefits that America offers should drop the hyphen and give undivided loyalty to the land of their adoption?

Frank Leslies Weekly 1915-07-01

Frank Leslies Weekly 1915-07-01

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.

Source: Frank Leslies Weekly, July 1, 1915

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New Arkansas and Arizona Titles Online

As part of the ongoing expansion of our American County Histories collections, we are constantly bringing new materials online.  Initially we bring the page images online while our text processors work to create the first full text searchable materials.  In June alone, we brought online the images for 168 new titles in Illinois and Minnesota.

After our text folks finish, we add the text to the title so subscribers can toggle back and forth between the text and an image of the book’s page.

In just the last week we have brought the text online for these four volumes in our American County Histories collection.

New in Arkansas


New in Arizona

  • WHO’S WHO IN ARIZONA – VOLUME I – 1913. (Browse)

Note: The Browse links above are for visitors with institutional access to Accessible Archives only. Personal subscribers must login here and then browse to the Arkansas or Arizona titles.


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