Women Making History: The Revolutionary Feminist Postcard Art of Helaine Victoria Press

Women Making History: The Revolutionary Feminist Postcard Art of Helaine Victoria Press - Julia M. Allen

Women Making History: The Revolutionary Feminist Postcard Art of Helaine Victoria Press

In 1973, Jocelyn Cohen and Nancy Poore established Helaine Victoria Press to publish women's history postcards. Spurred by the energy of the second wave feminist movement, they learned how to research histories buried in old books and archives and how to print on a vintage letterpress. The press attracted more participants, closing only in 1991 in response to changing communication technologies.

Drawing on feminist and material rhetorics, the authors of Women Making History demonstrate that, by creating postcards, Helaine Victoria Press aimed to do more than provide a convenient writing surface or even affect collective memory; instead, they argue, the press generated feminist memory. The cards, each with the picture of a woman or group of women from history, were multimodal. Pictures were framed in colors and borders appropriate to the era and subject. Lengthy captions offered details about the lives of the women pictured. Unlike other memorials, the cards were mobile; they traveled through the postal system, viewed along the way by the purchasers, mail sorters, mail carriers, and recipients. Upon arriving at their destinations, cards were often posted on office bulletin boards or refrigerators at home, where surroundings shaped their meanings.

Women Making History shows that Helaine Victoria Press's cards, like the movement from which they emanated, were dynamic and participatory. They were, in short, a multidirectional, open ended, rhetorically evolving process of transforming feminist consciousness. The print edition includes many images from the press's records, and the digital edition offers additional images plus audio and video clips from press participants.

This is the first book to demonstrate the relationships between the feminist art movement, the women in print movement, and the scholars studying women's history. Readers will be drawn to both the large quantity of illustrative materials and the theoretical framework of the book, as it provides an expanded understanding of rhetorical multimodality. Scholars of gender and women's studies, art history, media studies, and the history of rhetoric, as well as members of the public with interests in feminism, Lesbian feminist culture, postcards, fine letterpress printing, and papermaking will be inspired by this richly produced history.

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