The New Woman
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell
In 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female doctor in the U.S. after earning her M.D. from the Medical Institution of Geneva, N.Y.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman doctor in the U.S. in 1864.
Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler, M.D.











Mother and Child
"I consider women writers, lawyers and politicians as monsters and nothing but five-legged calves. The woman artist is merely ridiculous, but I am in favor of the female singer and dancer." - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Women Bathing
Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, c. 1905.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Bathers, 1887.











By 1893 a new female heroine emerged in the popular imagination called "The New Woman"
She rejects convention by:
Reading and pursuing an education
Having a healthy, athletic lifestyle
Dressing in comfortable clothes that allow free movement
Deciding when, whom and if to marry
Deciding how to earn money and how to spend it
James Van der Zee, c. 1920s











Frances Benjamin Johnston

Judge Magazine
Frances Benjamin Johnson, Self-Portrait, c. 1896.
John Held Jr.  Judge Magazine cover, 1925.




















Maria Buszek Bluestocking
Bluestocking = a disparaging term, no longer in common use, for an educated, intellectual woman
"A bluestocking is the scourge of her husband, children, friends, servants, and everyone." - Jean Jacques Rousseau
Nicole Cawlfield, Maria Buszek Bluestocking, 2002.











Camille Claudel
Camille Claudel, The Age of Maturity or Destiny, 1902.











The Waltz

Artist, student, studio assistant, model, and lover of sculptor Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel represents the emerging New Woman and the difficulties she encountered in her demand for equality and feedom from domesticity. 

During her career, Claudel received significant comissions and accolades.   But after a difficult breakup with Rodin, she began to exhibit signs of mental instability.  When her father (who supported her career as an artist) died, her mother and brother immediately had her committed to an insane asylum.  Despite repeated recommendations by Camille's doctors for her release, the family refused.  Camille remained in the asylum for 30 years until her death in 1943.

Museum Devoted to Camille Claudel Opens
Camille Claudel, The Waltz, 1895.











In the transition from the old guard to the avant-garde, women artists played active roles as they challenged the limits of tradition


The Abandoned Doll

Suzanne Valadon, The Abandoned Doll, 1921.











Characteristics of 20th century art are
the characteristics of the century itself:


Rapid change
Several broad tendencies mark modern art:
  • Tendency towards abstraction
  • Tendency to emphasize physical process involved in creation of the work
  • Continual questioning of the nature of art
Gabriele Münter, Boating, 1910.











Historical Context

First Miss America

Freud publishes "The Interpretation of Dreams"
Wright brother's first flight
Einstein formulates theory of relativity

Swimmer Annette Kellerman is arrested for indecent exposure while trying to popularize a one-piece swimsuit worn with tights rather than bloomers

Titanic sinks
Henry Ford's Model-T plant opens
Eighteenth Amendment makes sale, manufacture, and transportation of intoxicating liquors illegal
Nineteenth Amendment gives women gain the right to vote in the United States

First Miss America pageant

Norma Smallwood, Miss America 1926, makes $100,000 in appearance fees, an income higher than either Babe Ruth or the president of the United States.
Margaret Gorman, the First Miss America