This International Women’s Day, Bridgeman Images pays tribute to the women in our archive, from the famous to the unsung, the thinkers and the doers, the artistic and the sporty, the strong and the maternal.

 

Heroines of Women’s Suffrage

The Suffragette Movement of the early 20th century is synonymous with the notion of gender equality and women’s rights. From the first convention on women’s rights in Seneca Falls in 1848 to contributions to the war effort, groups of female activists all over the world such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davidson made headlines and became household names.

In 2015 we saw the 100th anniversary of the famous 1915 Suffragette march in New York City.  An estimated 30,000 women and 5,000 men marched down Fifth Avenue, advocating for a woman’s right to vote. Women were able to vote on a national level in the United Kingdom in 1918, with the United States following suit in 1920.

Recent events have echoed history but on a grander scale; the worldwide Women’s March that took place on January 21, 2017 had an estimated global participation of 4.8 million. It is the largest single-day demonstration in US history and was aimed at Donald Trump, immediately following his inauguration as President of the United States, due to his misogynistic values.

Suffragette parade in New York, 1915 / Film Images / Bridgeman Footage

 

Mary Cassatt

An active member of the cause of Women’s suffrage was the American artist, Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844-1926), an Impressionist painter celebrated amongst such male contemporaries as Edgar Degas and Gustav Caillebotte. Although described by Gustave Geffroy as one of the ‘trois grandes dames’ of Impressionism, Cassatt worked against much of the general criticism received by female artists at the time.

In 1915, despite her waning health and near blindness, she had eighteen works shown in an exhibition supporting the Suffragette movement. Click on the image below to view an in-depth profile of the artist and her key works.

Mary Cassatt / Academic Rights Press / Arthaus / Bridgeman Footage

 

Heroines of the Art World

Harriet Backer / Academic Rights Press / Arthaus / Bridgeman Footage

Female artists featured in our archive include the pioneering Norwegian realist painter, Harriet Backer (1845-1932), who gained respect and admiration from her intellectual peers throughout her career. Barbara Hepworth, (1903-1975), the influential and much loved sculptor, spearheaded Britain’s Modernist movement alongside Henry Moore, Ivon Hitchens and Ben Nicholson.

Figures in a Landscape; Barbara Hepworth / Bridgeman Footage

 

Heroines of the World Wars

“They have given their sons to the military services. They have stoked the furnaces and hurried the factory wheels. They have made the planes and welded the tanks. Riveted the ships and rolled the shells.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Women made great advances in narrowing the gender gap during the wars. Demonstrating capabilities to rival any man’s, they worked tirelessly on the land, in the factories and in the cities, keeping industry ticking over while their sons and husbands fought on the frontlines, during both World War One and World War Two.

Women take on the tasks of men, World War II / The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision / Bridgeman Footage

 

The Many Roles of Women

“I can’t help feeling my flight meant little to aviation. But if it meant something to women, then I feel it justified.” – Amelia Earhart, 1932

Besides International Women’s Day, March is also, fittingly, the month of Mother’s Day in the UK. What better to show you than a film about the a day in the life of a working mother, c.1960? Or take note from the helpful little boy in this clip as he gives his hardworking mother a hand earning their living in 1940s Indonesia.

Or simply browse our International Women’s Day lightbox to see more stirring clips of women’s rise through the 20th century, featuring Amelia Earhart and her record breaking 1932 transatlantic flight, as well as actors, contemporary artists, dancers, bakers, jockeys and hockey players, filmmakers, boxers, scientists and soldiers… We could go on!

Amelia Earhart posing with plane, speaking to camera after first female solo flight across Atlantic, disappearance in 1937 / Bridgeman Footage

 

Women in Space

Sally Ride is perhaps one of the most well-known female astronauts. Ride was an American Astronaut and University lecturer. Her career broke several records, primarily as she would become the first woman in space in 1983. At age 32, she was also the youngest astronaut in history (and she still holds this spot today). During her career she was married to a NASA colleague but divorced in 1987 after spending the last few years of her life teaching. Upon her death in 2012, it was revealed that a later partner of 27 years was in fact a woman. Throughout her career, Ride had been very quiet about her personal life, preferring to not mix work and private matters. With this in mind, today Ride is acknowledged not only as the first Woman in space but also as the first LGBT astronaut.

Heroines of the Stage

Maria Tallchief made history as the first Native American prima ballerina. She spoke out against prejudices and misconceptions of her culture from American society throughout her whole life, and became known as a ballerina who broke the mould – you didn’t need to have a classical upbringing to succeed in the world of ballet. That said, Tallchief began her passion at age 3 and dedicated most of her energy to it throughout her life.

Josephine Baker is a performer, icon and symbol of the Jazz Age. Among her many achievements, she was the first African-American to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics. We hold a large selection of delightful stage photographs and costume portraits (including her iconic banana skirt!) as well as clips of her in action on and off the stage. During her lifetime, Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States. She also contributed to the Civil Rights Movement, and was offered unofficial leadership in the movement following Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. She declined out of the fears of the safety of her children.

On top of this, she also aided the French Resistance during WW2.

Find out more

Guerrilla Girls: How Sexist is the Art World?

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