women

WOMEN IN PANTS: MANLY MAIDENS, COWGIRLS AND OTHER RENEGADES
Cynthia Greig and Catherine Smith
Hardcover, Harry N. Abrams, New York, NY, 2003
184 pp., 150 color and black-and-white illustrations, 7-1/4 x 10-1/4 inches
ISBN-10: 0810945711

Inspired in part by the title character of Greig's installation, New Eden: The Life and Work of Isabelle Raymond, the book chronicles some of the real women—both celebrated and ordinary—who broke from society's expectations not only in the way they dressed, but the way they lived their lives. Recognized by the Amelia Bloomer Book List Award for Non-Fiction in 2004. The editor's synopsis and review excerpts below:

SYNOPSIS

Despite what most people may think, American women have always worn pants. Featuring an unusual collection of vintage photographs from the 1850s to the 1920s, Women in Pants documents an almost forgotten revolution in clothing. Defying convention, Victorian dress reformers as well as farmers, laborers, miners, cowgirls, and sportswomen openly wore trousers, while other women disguised themselves in men's attire to get good jobs, go to combat, engage in relationships with other women, or experiment with gender identity.

Candid, often humorous quotes from contemporary newspapers and magazines complement the photographs and enhance our understanding of the culture and time in which these women lived. For some, wearing pants was a necessity; for others, it was an act of defiance; for still others, it was just fun.

SELECTED REVIEWS

[T]he book works as an enthralling casual read, and it works especially well as a teaching tool. Smith and Greig have contributed a worthwhile addition to the fields of women's history, photographic history, and popular and material culture.
—Rhonda Jenkins Armstrong, Women Writers: A Zine, January 1, 2004

This beautiful book…allows a part of history unknown to many of us to come alive…[It’s] hard to put down.
—Melody Ballard, The Library Journal, June 1, 2003

This beautiful volume... brings to life a hidden history: women who traded their dresses for clothes that "made the man."
—Diane Ellen Hamer, The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, January 1, 2004

Women in Pants gives the entire stereotypical image of Victorian femininity a good dusting.....If nothing else [the book] shows more dirt on more women than any other photo-based book I can recall." Peter Goddard, Toronto Star , May, 3,2003

A significant contribution to the scholarship on the history of... women’s rights, which included a "fight for our clothes."
—Joy Sperling, The Journal of American Culture, June 2004

Since photography is a primary interest of the authors of this fascinating book, it is not surprising that it largely consists of a collection of historical photographs. This is not a negative aspect though, as these fascinating photos (150 in all) show women of the past as we've never seen them before.…The women profiled here paved the way for women's rights in many areas of life. This book should be included in Women's Studies courses, but deserves to be read by, and delight, a much wider audience.
—Kathie Oliver, The Textile Museum of Canada Book Reviews, August 7, 2008

Authors Catherine Smith (Assoc. Prof., Mott Comm. College, Flint, MI) and Cynthia Greig (fine-art photographer and independent curator) have compiled a superb collection of photographs and quotes for Women in Pants: Manly maidens, cowgirls, and other renegades. The book gives us a glimpse into an unexplored aspect of the Victorian/Edwardian female world. Some of the anecdotes are gutsy and funny, while others, like those about the dangers of women's dress, are tragically sad. The best part about the photographs is the women's faces. Some of the women shyly avoid the camera's gaze, while others giggle at the fun of having their picture taken in slacks. But my favorite are those women who stare directly at the lens, shoulders back and chins held high, as if challenging the viewer to protest."
—Margaret Perry, Book review, May 24, 2013