International Women’s Day: Tuesday 8 March

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day with these epic books from our collection, featuring stories of courageous, creative, bold, brave, smart, successful, athletic and generally awesome women from Aotearoa and around the world.

Kia pai tāu pānui! Happy reading!

Nuku : stories of 100 indigenous women / Matata-Sipu, Qiane
“The power of storytelling is evident in our earliest pūrākau. Stories can change the world. It is how our tūpuna passed on their knowledge, the blueprint for living well, for generations. Through telling their stories, the women in this book seek to influence the world around them. The youngest is 14 and the eldest is in her mid-70s. They are wāhine Māori, Moriori, Pasifika, Melanesian, Wijadjuri, Himalayan and Mexican”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

 

Bookish broads : women who wrote themselves into history / Marino, Lauren
“Women have written some of our most extraordinary literary works while living in societies and cultures that tried to silence them. These women dared to put pen to paper to express the multifaceted female experience. In Bookish Broads, Lauren Marino celebrates fierce, trailblazing female writers, reworking the literary canon that has long failed to recognize the immense contributions of women. Featuring more than 50 brilliant bookish broads, Marino cleverly illuminates the lives of the greats as well as the literary talents history has wrongfully overlooked.” (adapted from catalogue)

Ngā Mōrehu = The survivors : the life histories of eight Māori women
“In eight remarkable oral histories, NGA MOREHU brings alive the experience of Maori women from in the mid-twentieth century. The title, ‘the survivors’, refects the women’s connection with the visionary leader Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki and his followers, who adopted the name ‘Nga Morehu’ during the wars of the 1860s. But these women are not only survivors: they are also the chosen ones, the leaders of their society. They speak here of richly diverse lives – of arranged marriages and whangai adoption traditions, of working in both Maori and Pakeha communities. They pay testimony to their strong sense of a shared identity created by religious and community teachings.” (adapted from catalogue)

Women in sports : 50 fearless athletes who played to win / Ignotofsky, Rachel
“Illustrated profiles of fifty pioneering female athletes, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Women in Science. A charmingly illustrated and inspiring book, Women in Sports highlights the achievements and stories of fifty notable women athletes. Covering more than forty sports, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about notable women’s teams throughout history, pay and media statistics for female athletes, and muscle anatomy. Women in Sports celebrates the success of the tough, bold, and fearless women who paved the way for the next generation of athletes” (adapted from catalogue)

But I changed all that : ‘first’ New Zealand women / Tolerton, Jane
“But I Changed All That is a collection of New Zealand women ‘firsts’, from Kate Sheppard in 1893 to Kristine Bartlett, Katie Milne and Jacinda Ardern in 2018. The 76-page book contains portraits of New Zealand women who broke new ground, with extended captions, including a quote from each subject.” (Catalogue)

 

Bad girls throughout history : 100 remarkable women who changed the world / Shen, Ann
“The 100 revolutionary women featured in this illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for those who followed. From ancient times through present day, from pirates to artists, scientists to spies, these courageous women achieved unprecedented feats and left a permanent mark on human history.”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Pasifika women : our stories in New Zealand / Kailahi, Sandra
“Sandra Kailahi has interviewed 20 Pacific women that have worked tirelessly within the New Zealand community to better the lives of their peoples. Included are politicians, artists, writers, church representatives, sportswomen, community leaders and many more. The interviews cover early lives to the present, and showcase the strengths and depths of knowledge the women contribute to New Zealand society every day. Each biography is accompanied by Eimi Tamua’s beautifully shot portrait, as well as imagery from the contributors’ private collections of photographs.” (Catalogue)

Little leaders : bold women in black history / Harrison, Vashti
“Based on her popular Instagram posts, debut author/illustrator Vashti Harrison shares the stories of 40 bold African American women who shaped history.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Women artists A to Z / LaBarge, Melanie
“From household names like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe, to French-born Australian artist Mirka Mora, to underrepresented creators such as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Xenobia Bailey, this empowering alphabet picture book features a variety of genres – painting, drawing, sculpture, and more. Each lushly illustrated spread summarises the artist’s work in one word, such as ‘D is for Dots’ (Yayoi Kusama) and ‘N is for Nature’ (Maya Lin), and gives the essential information to know about the creator.” (adapted from catalogue)

We should all be feminists / Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
“What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. With humour and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century – one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviours that marginalise women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics.” (adapted from catalogue)

On this day she : putting women back into history, one day at a time / Bell, Jo
“An inspiring collection that shines a light on incredible women who were never given the acknowledgement they deserved. Here are the women whom time has forgotten; those who didn’t make it into the history books and those whom society failed to uphold as significant figures in their own right. Finally, we shall know their stories.” (Catalogue)

Women in science : 50 fearless pioneers who changed the world / Ignotofsky, Rachel
“The New York Times bestseller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world.” (Catalogue)

A Body Positive booklist for the New Year

It’s January and that means we’re being bombarded from all angles with diet ads, fitness challenges, and the endless “New Year, New Me” messages.  It can be hard keeping these negative body messages at bay, especially after the Christmas/New Year period when we’ve all been enjoying the celebratory kai and chilling out over summer.

Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent books available to help you get back to loving your body and feeling good about yourself.  Here are a few we have in our collection:


Body positive power : how learning to love yourself will save your life / Crabbe, Megan Jayne
“We’ve been convinced that happiness is something that only comes once we hit that goal weight, get those washboard abs, shrink ourselves down and change every part of ourselves. We believe that our bodies are the problem, but this is not true. It’s how we’ve been taught to see our bodies that’s the problem… It’s time for us all to stop believing the lies we’ve been fed about what it means to be beautiful, and take our power back. Megan’s body image issues began when she was five years old. She spent her childhood chasing thinness, and at fourteen found herself spiralling into anorexia. After recovery she spent years dieting, binging, losing and gaining weight. But then she found body positivity, quit dieting, and finally escaped the cult of thin. Now she’s determined to let as many people as possible know the truth: that we are all good enough as we are.” (Catalogue)

The body is not an apology : the power of radical self-love / Taylor, Sonya Renee
“Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies. The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world–for us all” (Catalogue)

Size sexy : how to look good, feel good, and be happy – at any size / Ellis, Stella
“”I like to say that my hourglass figure is more like an hour and a half”–Stella, as quoted in O Magazine. To become a “muse” to Jean-Paul Gaultier, you have to be someone special, and Stella Ellis filled that role when she rocked the modeling world.” (Catalogue)

More than a body : your body is an instrument, not an ornament / Kite, Lexie
“Positive body image isn’t believing your body looks good; it is knowing your body is good, regardless of how it looks. How do you feel about your body? Have you ever stayed home from a social activity or other opportunity because of concern about how you looked? Have you ever passed judgment on someone because of how they looked or dressed? Have you ever had difficulty concentrating on a task because you were self-conscious about your appearance? Our beauty-obsessed world perpetuates the idea that happiness, health, and ability to be loved are dependent on how we look, but authors Lindsay and Lexie Kite offer an alternative vision.” (Catalogue)

Embrace yourself / Brumfitt, Taryn
“Body positivity from the maker of documentary Embrace – how to love the skin you’re in and embrace yourself.” (Catalogue)

Screw inner beauty : lessons from the fat-o-sphere / Harding, Kate
“A sassy, sexy, no-holds-barred book for everyone – fat or thin – who’s tired of being told they are too big, thin, tall, short, wrinkly.” (Catalogue)

Fattily ever after / Yeboah, Stephanie
“Twenty-nine-year-old plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah has experienced racism and fat-phobia throughout her life. From being bullied at school to being objectified and humiliated in her dating life, Stephanie’s response to discrimination has always been to change the narrative around body-image and what we see as beautiful. In her debut book, Fattily Ever After, Stephanie Yeboah speaks openly and courageously about her own experience on navigating life as a black, plus-sized woman telling it how it really is and how she has managed to find self-acceptance in a world where judgment and discrimination are rife.” (Catalogue)

Happy fat / Hagen, Sofie
“‘I am a fat person and I love my body. I feel lucky to be able to say that – it has taken a lot of work and a lot of time. I want to tell you what I have learned and how I got here.’ In Happy Fat, comedian Sofie Hagen shares how she removed fatphobic influences from her daily life and found self-acceptance in a world where judgement and discrimination are rife. Part memoir, part social commentary, Happy Fat is a funny, angry and impassioned look at how taking up space in a culture that is desperate to reduce you can be radical, emboldening and life-changing.” (Catalogue)

And a few titles for kids:


Bodies are cool / Feder, Tyler
“Illustrations and easy-to-read, rhyming text celebrate bodies of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors, with different kinds of hair, eyes, spots, scars, and more.” (Catalogue)

All bodies are good bodies / Barkla, Charlotte
“Bold and beautiful, loud and proud, All Bodies are Good Bodies is an uplifting book about different body features and types. Through playful rhyme, it promotes the development of body acceptance and celebrates inclusivity and individuality.” (Catalogue)

Beautifully me / Noor, Nabela
“Zubi, a happy Bangladeshi girl, is excited about her first day of school, but at breakfast she is puzzled by her mother and older sister worrying about being “too big,” and even at school she hears other people criticizing each other’s bodies, and she starts to worry that maybe something is wrong with how she looks–until her declaration at dinner that she is on a diet makes her family realize what they have been doing wrong.” (Catalogue)

Hot and Bothered – Navigating Perimenopause for Generation X

In the media and entertainment, we’re always hearing about what’s happening with the Millennial, Boomer and now Generation Z women, but in that we seem to have lost most traces of the Heathers, Clueless Chers, Riot Grrrls and Mallrats of Generation X.  At this point in time, many Gen X women find themselves sandwiched between Zoomer kids and Boomer parents, still in the thick of the careers we fought so hard for and realising that when we tried to have it all, we realised we probably didn’t really want it all.

Let’s not forget that we’re also smack bang in mid-life right as the world is in a global pandemic.

Of course the looming reality for most Generation X women is menopause.  If we’re not already well on our way to it, it’s on the horizon in the next few years.  Unfortunately it’s still a subject that is considered taboo and is not often discussed – our mothers and grandmothers whispered about “the change” and generally swept all that was happening to them aside.  Of course the younger generation of women is definitely not interested, because who wants to think about getting older?  But there is plenty of information available through your local library, for you to go boldly forth into your future and to stimulate discussion with your peers.

Try a few of these out:

Hormone repair manual : every woman’s guide to healthy hormones after 40 / Briden, Lara
“The Hormone Repair Manual is a must-have guide to understanding and overcoming the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Naturopath Lara Briden, author of the international bestseller Period Repair Manual, has more than 20 years’ experience in women’s health. The Hormone Repair Manual is backed by evidence-based research and case studies and is a reassuring guide to soothing, nourishing and strengthening your body, mind and spirit during this time of change.” (adapted from catalogue)

The complete guide to the menopause : your toolkit to take control and achieve life-long health / Mukherjee, Annice
“Dr Annice Mukherjee went through the menopause at just 41 following a breast cancer diagnosis, and she is also a top UK hormone specialist with nearly 30 years of experience. In this book she combines her medical expertise and personal experience to develop an essential menopause toolkit offering balanced, practical and comprehensive advice designed for our modern world. The author has used her unique holistic system to help thousands of women look better, feel younger and enjoy an improved quality of life in the long term.” (Catalogue)

The menopause manifesto : own your health with facts and feminism / Gunter, Jen
“The only thing predictable about menopause is its unpredictability. Factor in widespread misinformation, a lack of research, and the culture of shame around women’s bodies, and it’s no wonder women are unsure what to expect during the menopause transition and beyond. Knowing what is happening, why, and what to do about it is both empowering and reassuring. Filled with practical, reassuring information, this essential guide will revolutionize how women experience menopause–including how their lives can be even better for it!” (adapted from catalogue)

Our hormones, our health : how to understand your hormones and transform your life / Esche-Belke, Susanne
“A handbook for women who want to understand their hormones and transform their lives for the better. Written by two doctors from their experience as practitioners and as women, and full of pioneering knowledge from epigenetics, stress medicine, nutritional medicine, and modern hormone replacement therapy, Our Hormones, Our Health aims to show women how to live with good health, good humour, and much happiness — no matter what their stage of life.” (adapted from catalogue) eBook version here

Perimenopause power : navigating your hormones on the journey to menopause / Hill, Maisie
“Perimenopause Power is a handbook that exudes calm positivity and makes sense of complex physiological processes in an easy-to-understand manner, helping women to understand what the hell’s going on with them and provide instruction on what can be done to improve their experience of the dreaded “change.” Maisie Hill, the celebrated author of Period Power, delves into the science of menopause in an accessible way and provides a whole slew of tips to see women through the challenge of wildly fluctuating hormones.” (adapted from catalogue) eBook version here

What fresh hell is this? : perimenopause, menopause, other indignities, and you / Corinna, Heather
“Heather Corinna tells you what can happen and what you can do to take care of yourself, all the while busting pernicious myths, offering real self-care tips – the kind that won’t break the bank or your soul – and running the gamut from hot flashes to hormone therapy. With practical, clear information and support, inclusive of those with disabilities, queer, transgender, nonbinary and other gender-diverse people, people of colour, working class and others who have long been left out of the discussion, What Fresh Hell Is This? is the cooling pillow and empathetic best friend to help you through the fire.” (adapted from catalogue)

The M word : how to thrive in menopause / Mansberg, Ginni
“The time is ripe for a book that lifts negative connotations around the experience of peri-menopause/menopause and Dr Mansberg is perfectly placed to do just that. A practicing GP and mother who has just turned 50 herself, Ginni has written a solution-focused book for understanding, embracing and (even) enjoying this stage in a woman’s life. She outlines medical science, explaining what happens at a cellular level in the body once key hormones begin to diminish; she details symptoms and experience; then explores pros and cons of treatment options, as well as home remedies.” (adapted from catalogue) eBook version here

The new hot : navigating the menopause with attitude and style / Mathews, Meg
“When Meg Mathews hit menopause she was shocked at the lack of awareness, understanding and support shown to women – and also found the information available far too dreary. After getting her symptoms under control she became determined to help other women avoid an experience like hers. The New Hot is her no-holds-barred guide to menopause designed to entertain and empower women in equal measure. It’s full of Meg’s personal insights as well as the latest information and advice from a wide range of menopause and lifestyle experts.” (Adapted from Catalogue) eBook version here

Older and wider : a survivor’s guide to the menopause / Eclair, Jenny
“Older and Wider is Jenny Eclair’s hilarious, irreverent and refreshingly honest compendium of the menopause. From C for Carb-loading and G for Getting Your Shit Together to I for Invisibility and V for Vaginas, Jenny’s whistle-stop tour of the menopause in all its glory will make you realise that it really isn’t just you. Jenny will share the surprising lessons she has learnt along the way as well as her hard-won tips on the joy of cardigans, dealing with the empty nest (get a lodger) and keeping the lid on the pressure cooker of your temper (count to twenty, ten is never enough).” (adapted from catalogue)

Perimenopower / Wilk, Katarina
“We hear a lot these days about the menopause, but there may be up to fifteen years of hormonal changes in a woman’s body before she reaches the point where her periods stop. These years can be turbulent both emotionally and physically – with panic attacks, insomnia, acne, hot flashes, weight gain and low moods. As our hormones fluctuate from our mid-thirties, so do the needs of our bodies. With the right lifestyle and dietary changes, you can turn the perimenopause into a powerful life transition towards a stronger, healthier and happier you.” (adapted from catalogue)

Special mention, just for entertainment value…

Turns out, I’m fine / Lucy, Judith
“Judith Lucy was just Great! Sure, the last remaining member of her immediate family had died, she was menopausal, she suspected her career was in the shitter and it seemed like the world was going to hell in a handbasket – but she was about to move in with the love of her life! Everything would work out because SHE HAD A MAN. Then, in the space of twenty-four hours, her relationship came apart and so did she. A broken heart became the catalyst for a complete existential melt down. She was nearly fifty, suddenly alone and unsure about every aspect of her life. How had this happened? Should she blame one of her four parents? What part had the comedy world played and was her disastrous history with men about more than just bad taste? In her most candid and insightful book yet, Judith figures out what went wrong and then turns her attention to finding out what her life might look like if it went right. She tries everything from dating a tree to getting a portrait of her vulva done to swimming with a whale shark. Thanks to a series of revelations and a slight drowning experience, Judith slowly starts to realise that her life is still full of possibilities and despite death, heartache and a dry vagina it turns out … she’s fine.” (Catalogue)

For many more titles on the topic, click here.

And don’t forget:

Ten Women Who Changed Science and other intriguing works

This month we bring amazing books in popular science. From Ten Women Who Changed Science to quantum physics, the importance of the Sun in our lives and even a book about how ancient foods feed our microbiome. Come with us in this amazing read!


Ten women who changed science, and the world / Whitlock, Catherine
Ten Women Who Changed Science tells the moving stories of the physicists, biologists, chemists, astronomers and doctors who helped to shape our world with their extraordinary breakthroughs and inventions, and outlines their remarkable achievements. (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Beyond weird : why everything you thought you knew about quantum physics is… different / Ball, Philip
“An exhilarating tour of the contemporary quantum landscape, Beyond Weird is a book about what quantum physics really means-and what it doesn’t.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Chasing the sun : how the science of sunlight shapes our bodies and minds / Geddes, Linda
“Our ancestors constructed vast monuments like Stonehenge and Pyramids of Egypt and Central America to keep track of the sun and celebrate the annual cycle of death and rebirth. The returning sun heralds new beginnings. This book asks us to rethink the significance of the sun in our lives and to exploit our relationship to improve our health, sleep and productivity.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The cosmic mystery tour : a high-speed journey through space & time / Mee, Nicholas
“How did the universe begin? What are gravitational waves all about? Will we find life on other planets? The Cosmic Mystery Tour is a brilliant, entertaining introduction to the discoveries of physics and astronomy. Stories, explanations, and illustrations open up the exciting frontiers of science to any beginner.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The cradle of humanity : how the changing landscape of Africa made us so smart / Maslin, Mark A.
“What drove the evolution of humans, with our uniquely big brains? The Cradle of Humanity presents fascinating and controversial new research which suggests that the geological and climatic history of East Africa’s Rift Valley are at the heart of the answer. Astronomy, geology, climate, and landscape all had a part to play in making East Africa the cradle of humanity and allowing us to dominate the planet.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Cultured : how ancient foods feed our microbiome / Courage, Katherine Harmon
“A revealing look at the 300 trillion microorganisms that keep us healthy–and the foods they need to thrive. These days, probiotic yogurt and other “gut-friendly” foods line supermarket shelves. But what’s the best way to feed our all-important microbiome–and what is a microbiome, anyway? In this engaging and eye-opening book, science journalist Katherine Harmon Courage investigates these questions, presenting a deep dive into the ancient food traditions and the latest research for maintaining a healthy gut.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Exact thinking in demented times : the Vienna Circle and the epic quest for the foundations of science / Sigmund, Karl
Exact Thinking in Demented Times is the first book to tell the often outrageous, sometimes tragic but always riveting stories of the men who shaped present-day scientific thought. A dazzling group biography, this landmark book will make clear the debt we owe to those who dared to reinvent knowledge from the ground up. — from dust jacket.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The space oracle : a guide to your stars / Hollings, Ken
“A radical retelling of our relationship with the cosmos, reinventing the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar. A carefully constructed text in sixty numbered sections, The Space Oracle reinvents the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Wellington Girls’ College and Suffrage

The Dux, the Photographer and the Principal


Schools are a focal point for the history of communities — the past and present are bound together by the educational institutions that transmit knowledge between generations. Schools often play important and formative roles in historical movements and in the lives of important New Zealanders. Wellington Girls’ College (known as Wellington Girls’ High School until 1905) is one such hub of activity in our Wellington community.

In the late 19th century, a number of individuals connected with Wellington Girls’ College signed the 1893 suffrage petition, which directly preceded women gaining the vote in New Zealand. Three of these women are profiled below in this article. Their passion for their chosen vocation, their skill and influence on those around them is plain to see. With Suffrage Day on September 19th it is crucial to remember those women and the taonga of life stories.

Wellington Girls' High School, pre-1905
Pre-1905 photo of Wellington Girls’ High School. Calvert, L (Mr), fl 1963 :Postcards. Ref: 1/2-049813-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22790013
Group portrait of Form VI girls at Wellington Girls High School 1887
Connolly & Herrmann (Firm). Connolly & Herrmann (Wellington) fl 1887-1889 :Group portrait of Form VI girls at Wellington Girls High School 1887. Ref: PA3-0053. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23063637

Maria Elsie Allman Marchant

Above is a studio group portrait of Form VI, Wellington Girls College. Back row standing: Ada F Carrol. Amy Meek. Ethel Maud Wilson. Mary Grubb. Jessie Nairn. Seated from left: Margaret Paterone. Harriet Day. Ella Marchant. Georgina Stack. Photographed by Connolly and Herrmann (Wellington) in 1887.

Maria Elsie Allman Marchant, known as Ella, was a talented and extremely capable pupil of Wellington Girls College. In 1887, she became the dux of her school. Just a few years later, Marchant returned to Wellington Girls College as a teacher whilst also studying extramurally towards a BA and an MA from Canterbury University. In 1893, an ‘E A. Marchant’ signed the suffrage petition, making clear her commitment to extending suffrage to all New Zealanders.

Marchant went onto become the Principal of Otago Girls’ High School where she took an independent and insightful approach on a range of issues (which sometimes brought her into conflict with the board of governors).[1] She had a strong conviction to do the best for her girls. On Saturday nights, the boarders would gather at Marchant’s home to read from her well stocked bookshelf — they especially enjoyed her copies of Charles Dickens.[2] Her untimely death in 1917 curtailed her plans to establish a religious teaching order in Dunedin. The Evening Post noted that Marchant was “an eloquent speaker, and from her wide experience and knowledge often charmed and delighted audiences.”[3]

Louisa Marion Herrmann

In the photograph of Marchant above, it is important to note not just the individuals present, but also the photography business involved in the image.  Louisa Marion Herrmann arrived from the UK in New Zealand aboard the Piako in 1880.  Louisa worked in Wellington as an assistant for Herrmann photography studio on Lambton Quay.[4] She went onto marry Richard Herrmann, one of her employers. After his death in 1892, she took sole charge of the business, and for 16 years she ran the photographic studio, now based on Cuba Street, and employed many workers. Herrmann’s business was described as “the most up-to-date and complete studio in the colonies.”[5]

During this time, Herrmann became an advocate for suffrage by signing the 1893 petition. On her retirement, Herrmann offered for sale 35,000 photographic negatives of New Zealanders. Tragically, we no longer know where these are — at least for now, these images, and their stories, are lost.[6]  As Te Papa staffer Lissa Mitchell recently noted, “it is a sad reflection on New Zealand’s historical record that Louisa’s story of self-determination and resilience and her photographic work have been lost, and a strong reminder of the need to keep including the work and stories of women in our histories.”

Mary Jane McLean

Mary Jane McLean was one of New Zealand’s most significant educationists. Especially later in life, she was a prominent advocate for women’s rights. She signed the 1893 petition and went onto become Principal of Wellington Girls’ College in 1900.

Mary Jane McLean, circa 1925
Mary Jane McLean. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-7171-46. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22693323

McLean was an experienced teacher, but she had to face tough international competition to attain her role. She immediately took an independent approach, making her mark on the school, where her legacies continue to this day. McLean directed Wellington Girls’ College as it expanded from a small school for a wealthy elite into a modern institution with a roll of 850. As the roll swelled, McLean helped establish Wellington East Girls’ College in 1926.

In 1929, after her retirement from education, McLean founded the Women’s Social Progress Movement which campaigned for women’s representation and provided aid and relief during the Depression in the early 1930s. McLean demonstrated a lifelong passionate commitment to improving the position of women, and Wellington remained McLean’s home till she passed away in 1946. Today, the year 13 Wellington Girls’ College prize for first in physical education is named after McLean.[7]

Marchant, Herrmann and McLean are just three of the signatories to the 1893 petition. All in all, thirteen separate petitions carried the signatures of 31,872 women. On the 19th of September, let’s celebrate all of those women with their unique lives, impressive achievements and their lasting influences upon us today.

Come along to Suffrage Day celebrations

We’ll be celebrating Suffrage Day at the Central Library on the 19th September. Come along and help us celebrate!

Library Planned activities

From 10am-2pm, you can:

  1. Have fun experiencing the times with our photo booth
  2. Try your hand at making a celebration camellia or badge
  3. Write some messages about what being able to vote means to you
  4. Watch a historical film (screenings are on the 1st floor)

Electoral Commission staff will also be with us from 12-2pm help you register for the electoral roll and answer any questions you have about voting in the present day!

Find out more about our celebrations

Kate Sheppard Ride

Another event happening in the city, is the Kate Sheppard Ride — see details below from the organisers:

Dress to impress and get your wheels spinning by joining us at 1.30pm on Saturday, 22 September 2018 (wet weather day will be the next day) at Old St Paul’s in Mulgrave Street. The Suffrage 125 bicycle ride will take you through the streets of old Thorndon and Wellington’s CBD.

Date: Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Time: 1:30pm to 4:30pm
Cost: 1 x Kate Sheppard $10 note
Location: Old St Paul’s, 34 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon ,Wellington

Learn more

Maori women and the vote / Rei, Tania
“In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Māori women were involved in two suffrage movements at the same time. Māori women supported the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in seeking the right to vote for members of the New Zealand House of Representatives, and they also sought the right to vote and to stand as members of the Māori Parliament – Te Kotahitanga. By the turn of the century both these goals had been achieved. Their involvement in the suffrage movements was a significant development in the story of Māori women and the ways in which they organised at a national level to deal with issues of importance to them and their communities.” (Summary from the Royal Society – Te Apārangi)

Read online with Bridget Williams BooksThe Women’s Suffrage Petition = Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, 1893.
“In May 2017 the exhibition He Tohu opened at the National Library in Wellington. This celebrates three founding documents in New Zealand’s history – He Whakaputanga: The Declaration of Independence (1835), the Treaty of Waitangi: Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840) and the Women’s Suffrage Petition (1893). The originals of these documents are on display at the National Library, in a wonderful exhibition that tells the history of the times and the story of the documents themselves.” (Library Catalogue)

Women’s suffrage in New Zealand / Grimshaw, Patricia
“First published in 1972, Patricia Grimshaw’s account of the New Zealand suffrage movement remains the definitive study of New Zealand’s radical role as the first country in the world to give women the vote. In clear, lively prose, this revised edition tells the fascinating story of the courage and determination early New Zealand feminists demonstrated, focusing particularly on the remarkable leadership of Kate Sheppard, whose ideas remain relevant today.” (Catalogue)

References


  1. Te Ara online
  2. NZ History online
  3. DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN TEACHER, Evening Post, Volume XCVIII, Issue 119, 17 November 1919
  4. ‘L M Herrmann’, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Aug-2018
  5. Lissa Mitchell, ‘Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Louisa Herrmann (1864-1955)’ Te Papa blog
  6. Lissa Mitchell, ‘Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Louisa Herrmann (1864-1955)’ Te Papa blog
  7. Information courtesy of Wellington Girls’ College Library

Special thanks to Ann Reweti for the blog concept and the research notes that she compiled.

Two great new novels which might have slipped past your satellite dish

Two of the thinking woman’s most popular novelists have produced new books this year and we have recently welcomed them in to the library. In different ways, they explore the difficulty of meeting the many demands of modern life.

The new Anne Tyler is charming, one of her best yet. The characters are so finely realised that it is difficult to realise that they are not living people.

Many women who are tired of trying to be everything everyone expects them to be will empathise with the heroine of Sue Townsend’s ‘The woman who went to bed for a year”. This is British black humour at its best and will will attract an appreciative audience.

Both books are already proudly wearing “Librarians Choice” badges – your guarantee of a good read!!

Syndetics book coverThe beginner’s goodbye : a novel / by Anne Tyler
“Tyler’s bright charm resides in her signature blend of the serious with the larky. Adept at dissecting family life, she is also intrigued by lonely guys, the focus in The Accidental Tourist (1985), A Patchwork Planet (1998), and Noah’s Compass (2009). Her newest variation on this theme is an exceptionally lithe, sparkling, and covertly philosophical tale, set, as all her novels are, in Baltimore. Hampered with a crippled leg and arm, Aaron has always refused to be coddled, fending off his guilt-ridden mother and strong-willed sister. He married Dorothy, a doctor, because he loved her brusqueness and pragmatism. He is devastated when she dies in a freak accident that destroys their house until Dorothy begins returning from beyond. These precious, if mysterious, encounters are all that matter to Aaron. He moves in with his sister, turns his wrecked house over to Gil, a sympathetic contractor, and barricades himself in his office at his family’s vanity press to avoid frilly, cookie-baking, overly helpful Peggy. The press stays afloat by selling its Beginner’s series, little how-to books that Tyler astutely uses to illuminate how ill-prepared we are for life’s relentless demands. As Gil restores Aaron’s home, Aaron slowly rebuilds his life in this funny, sweet, and wise tale of lost and found love.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe woman who went to bed for a year / Sue Townsend.
“The day her children leave home, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. She’s had enough – of her kids’ carelessness, her husband’s thoughtlessness and of the world’s general indifference. Brian can’t believe his wife is doing this. Who is going to make dinner? Taking it badly, he rings Eva’s mother – but she’s busy having her hair done. So he rings his mother – she isn’t surprised. Eva, she says, is probably drunk. Let her sleep it off. But Eva won’t budge. She makes new friends – Mark the window cleaner and Alexander, a very sexy handyman. She discovers Brian’s been having an affair. And Eva realizes to her horror that everyone has been taking her for granted – including herself. Though Eva’s refusal to behave like a dutiful wife and mother soon upsets everyone from medical authorities to her neighbours she insists on staying in bed. And from this odd but comforting place she begins to see both the world and herself very, very differently. . .The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year is a funny and touching novel about what happens when someone refuses to be the person everyone expects them to be. Sue Townsend, Britain’s funniest writer for over three decades, has written a brilliant novel that hilariously deconstructs modern family life.” (Global Books)

Bright stars- Women scientists known and unknown

Many listeners are tuning into “The stars are comforting” which is currently being played on Concert FM each Sunday at 2PM. This programme follows the life of the internationally-renowned New Zealand astronomer Beatrice Hill Tinsley through her many letters to her family and the music she played or which she heard at concerts. Astronomy and music were her two great interests in life. A brilliant scientist who began her work in the America of the 1960s, Beatrice struggled to reconcile her life as a woman with her passion for astronomy so that her story is very much tied up with feminist cause. She died at the tragically early age of 37. Those who have enjoyed the radio programmme may like to read this comprehensive biography.

Syndetics book coverBright star : Beatrice Hill Tinsley, astronomer / Christine Cole Catley.
“A New Zealand hero brought out of obscurity in this fascinating 445 page biography by author Christine Cole Catley. Beatrice Hill Tinsley showed astronomers new ways of thinking and taught teachers new ways of teaching. A lover of nature and a conservationist who idealised New Zealand, she was also a musician, a feminist, a battler for zero population growth and a champion of the oppressed. Her life is a classic study in the interaction of nature and nurture, genetics and environment. It is also an inspiring and unforgettable picture of a girl determined to be a scientist who grows up in provincial New Zealand and wins through to world renown.”(Summary from www. globalbooksinprint.com)

Rosalind Franklin’s life is one which is sometimes compared with that of Beatrice Hill Tinsley, although she lived a generation before her (she was born in 1920) – and on the other side of the world (she grew up and worked in London). Rosalind Franklin faced different problems from those faced by Beatrice – she never married and did not have children – but she suffered from male jealousy and hostility.There is a strong suggestion that her pioneering work on DNA was poached and that she was denied a share in the the Nobel prize. She also died tragically young – at the age of 38.

Syndetics book coverRosalind Franklin : the dark lady of DNA / Brenda Maddox.
“Her photographs of DNA were called “among the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken,” but physical chemist Rosalind Franklin never received due credit for the crucial role these played in the discovery of DNA’s structure. In this sympathetic biography, Maddox argues that sexism, egotism and anti-Semitism conspired to marginalize a brilliant and uncompromising young scientist who, though disliked by some colleagues, was a warm and admired friend to many. Franklin was born into a well-to-do Anglo-Jewish family and was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. After beginning her research career in postwar Paris she moved to Kings College, London, where her famous photographs of DNA were made. These were shown without her knowledge to James Watson, who recognized that they indicated the shape of a double helix and rushed to publish the discovery; with colleagues Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, he won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Deeply unhappy at Kings, Rosalind left in 1953 for another lab, where she did important research on viruses, including polio. Her career was cut short when she died of ovarian cancer at age 37. Maddox sees her subject as a wronged woman, but this view seems rather extreme.”(Oct. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Marie Curie preceded both these women scientists – she was born in 1867 – but she lived to a comparitively ripe age. Her work on radiation with her husband Pierre has made her a household name throughout the world and won the Nobel prize for physics for both in 1903. She herself won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1911, becoming the only woman to win two Nobel prizes and to win them in two fields. Her full and interesting life was beset with difficulties – among them the struggle to become a scientist, despite an impoverished background, and to honour her intense patriotism to her native Poland while living as a loyal French citizen. She received full recognition only after her husband’s death.

Syndetics book coverThe Curies : a biography of the most controversial family in science / Denis Brian.
“Brian notes that in a recent French poll on the greatest Frenchmen (sic) of all time, Marie Curie (1867-1934) was voted number four. The author of Einstein: A Life examines the personal and professional lives and legacy of a family that won a total of six Nobel Prizes. The controversies he treats include Madame Curie’s battles with the chauvinistic French science community and affair with a married scientist after Pierre’s death. The biography includes photos. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)” (Syndetics summary)

The three women scientists featured here are found in this book too, but it also highlights the work of many others whose names have been forgotten or obliterated. It raises interesting and timely questions about the paucity of top women scientists in the modern world, despite the fact that girls excel in examinations and repeatedly outstrip boys in the discipline.

Syndetics book coverScientists anonymous : great stories of women in science / Patricia Fara.“Why, when girls outstrip boys in exams, are there still so few women in the top levels of science? Why have women been excluded and is there still discrimination? Acclaimed science writer and children’s author Patricia Fara investigates science past and present to find the answers. She examines women scientists’ struggle against unequal opportunities, and shows how they have succeeded despite the obstacles stacked against them. The renowned names are here – Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale, Rosalind Franklin – but Scientists Anonymous also reveals the forgotten contributions of many other dedicated and brilliant women. Combining history, science and biography, Fara presents the stories of female explorers, mathematicians, astronomers and chemists from all over the world.”(Book summary Amazon.co.uk)

Rachel Dawick – free live performances at Central & Kilbirnie libraries

follow my tears eventOn Wednesday 18 May, Wellington City Libraries is delighted to have New Zealand singer/songwriter Rachel Dawick give two free live performances as part of her “Follow My Tears” tour. Rachel will perform at:
Central Library (65 Victoria Street) – 12-1pm
Ruth Gotlieb Library, Kilbirnie – 3.30-4.30pm

For 60 days Rachel will be touring New Zealand performing and collecting stories of New Zealand women in the 1800s on her journey.

“Researching into the songs written in the 1800s in NZ revealed a large gap in terms of those by women. It was a musical history dominated by men and therefore providing only half a story. If there weren’t the songs then the next best thing would be to discover the stories and write the songs myself.”
Rachel Dawick.

Want to have a listen before the event? Check out Rachel’s previous albums in our catalogue.

nzmmFor more information on Rachel Dawick: http://www.racheldawick.com

For more information about the “Follow My Tears” tour: http://web.me.com/rdawick/www.followmytears.com/The_Plan.html

Supported by Creative NZ, Wellington City Libraries, The Interislander Ferry and Radio New Zealand.

follow my tears events

Wanted: Stories of New Zealand women 1820 to 1890

Follow my tears posterDo you have stories of women in your family who lived in New Zealand in the 1800’s?  If so, we want to hear from you!
New Zealand singer-songwriter Rachel Dawick is collecting stories from all over New Zealand, which will then be used to create a new album of songs and a national resource for libraries.

“Researching into the songs written in the 1800s in NZ revealed a large gap in terms of those by women. It was a musical history dominated by men and therefore providing only half a story. If there weren’t the songs then the next best thing would be to discover the stories and write the songs myself.”
Rachel Dawick.

Write down the stories and drop them into your local Wellington City Libraries branch by 18 May or email them to us at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz
with  ‘Rachel Dawick Stories’ in the subject line. Please note that stories provided to us are unable to be returned.

nzmmFrom 14 April – 14 June, Rachel will also be travelling throughout New Zealand, performing in local libraries, while she collects the stories.

You will get your chance to see Rachel perform in Wellington when she will be giving two free live performances on Wednesday 18 May at Central Library (12-1pm) and Ruth Gotlieb Library, Kilbirnie (3.30-4.30pm).

Want to have a listen before the event?  Check out Rachel’s previous albums on our catalogue, or listen to an interview with her via RadioNZ.

follow my tears events