Women in our Digital Collections

Not every person represented in our collection is “famous”. Many items in our collection capture seemingly insignificant pinpoints in time, letters and notes and photographs of people just living their lives. Sometimes the items can be sad, confusing, or even silly!

Sometimes I think about how archives will look hundreds of years from now, when snippets from our lives are in archives. The letters of yesterday have become the texts and emails of today. Texts we send to one another and photos that we put on our favorite social media sites may be removed from their context and put in an archive, where people can look back and see how we lived.

On the last post of Women’s History Month, I decided to flip through some photographs of women in our digital collection.

This first photos are from the Perry Douglas Erwin WW1 Letters. Erwin was a Lieutenant stationed at Ft. Sill during the war and his wife, Vivian, wrote him nearly every day. The photo was tucked into a letter and it is believed to be Vivian, but we don’t know for sure.

Black and white photograph of a woman holding a rifle and aiming it to the right while she stands on a set of stairs

Woman with a rifle

That photograph and this one were included in the same letter to Erwin dated May 3 1918 and I really wish I knew more about the women in the picture. The title of the photograph is “2 women playing leapfrog”. They have cigarettes hanging out of their mouths while they play!

Black and white photograph of two women in overalls jumping over one another with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths

2 Women Playing Leapfrog

This next photo is from the same time period. From the William Hurtford Hutchins archive, made up of a diary, photo album, and some memorabilia. I can feel and hear this photograph, and with the weather warming up I definitely wish I was in that field with lambs!

Black and white photograph of a woman in a dress with five lambs at her feet

Woman and her lambs

This final photograph is not of . A part of the Roger Blais collection of Sious Uprising of 1862 Photographs, which are photographs of people who may have been involved in the Dakota War of 1862. It’s a portrait of Azayamankawin, also known as “Old Bets”, a Dakotan woman who was known among Minnesotans for her bravery and kindness.

Sepia portrait of an elderly woman looking at the camera

Portrait of Azayamankawn

These little slices of history and many others can be found as digital materials right on our website. If you would like to learn more about them or other items in our collections, don’t hesitate to email us at speccoll@utulsa.edu. We are still closed to the public, but TU students and affiliates can come and see us with an appointment.

About Kelsey Hildebrand

Kelsey is GA in the Special Collections department currently pursuing a Master's in Museum Science and Management.
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