Our project looks at illustrations and images of masculinity that circulated in early twentieth-century pro- and anti-suffrage postcards and utilizes a range of digital tools including Omeka, ImagePlot, Gephi, Tableau Public, and Iconclass to explore how feminist digital humanities practices engender new visual historical narratives of masculinity.
The images we are primarily concerned with were published between 1909 and 1919, the decade leading up to the ratification of the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Much work has been done on visual representations of women in suffrage postcards and cartoons more generally. Broadly speaking, scholars discuss how the strictures of white heteronormative femininity and the expectations of motherhood were important tropes in suffrage imagery. Much less, however, has been said about how depictions of masculinity, manhood, and fatherhood operated in suffrage postcards.
The preliminary results from this digital humanities approach have revealed the degree to which representations of masculinity were central to the construction of both the pro- and anti-suffrage debate. As we move forward, we will consider the tension between men and women, motherhood and fatherhood, the family, and the family of the nation that was central to suffrage postcards.
Since our project is interdisciplinary in scope, crossing both history and literary studies, we consider how these images influenced and interacted both with political discourse and women’s writing of the period.
One of the goals of the Suffrage Postcard Project is to create a searchable, easy-to-use digital archive of suffrage postcards for research and teaching purposes. We hope that you will find our site useful for such purposes and ask that the site is credited by citation or hyperlink in any research or teaching.
The Suffrage Postcard Project can be followed on Twitter (@Suff_Postcards).