Illustrating the 1968 Women's Movement

Demonstrators from the National Women’s Liberation Movement picket the 1968 Miss America Pageant. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

  • After checking out the database’s citation, the says that the Photographer is Anonymous. I’m assuming that means that the photographer is uncredited as they bought the picture from an amateur photographer.
  • Saturday, September 07, 1968
  • Atlantic City
  • The Miss America pageant became a target of protests, as feminist and civil rights activist fought against what they saw as a show that was degrading to women. In 1968, 400 women from the New York Radical Women protested the event on the Atlantic City boardwalk by crowning a live sheep Miss America. They also symbolically trashed a number of feminine products such as fake eyelashes, make up and bras.
  • The photograph is a primary source because the AP photos, though anonymous, are taken by their own photographers and kept in their archives. It’s been digitized for the website, but because it’s the Associated Press, it’s a reliable news wire and it is trusted to have a copy in it’s own physical archives.
  • The Associated Press has been around since the mid-1800s, and is the most widely (if not only) news-wire used in most journalistic broadcasts and publications. Its style book is taught at Baruch College’s Copy Editing course, and all articles in the department as well as campus publications such as Dollars and Sense and The Ticker are written in AP Style. AP Image, as an offshoot of the Associated Press, has gained its credibility through its age, it’s influence and it’s newsworthiness.
  • I would ask to see the physical copy of the photograph, and I would like to see if I could learn more about who was responsible for taking the photo and why they were kept anonymous. As mentioned in an earlier reading, curating history is not just looking into what’s been recorded, but what’s been left out of history.

In the context of the 1968 election, I would do background information on the history of this particular women’s organization, the National Women’s Liberation Movement. With the creation of the National Organization for Women (NOW) I would like to see if the two organizations ever clashed or if they worked together.

Regarding the protests, I would go back and see how it was covered in the news – were the demonstrator villainized or supported by the media? How did the presidential candidates handle the movement – did they lump it together with the civil rights and youth movements at the time, or was it its own separate issue?

Also, after the candidates made their stance, was there any policies passed to reflect their views, or was the issue pushed aside until the next administration? Did the conflict cause controversy? Were the candidates comfortable or uncomfortable talking about the women’s liberation movement?

For the photograph, I would truly like to know why the photographer is Anonymous. Being such a highly credible publication, the Associated Press is not one to just find a photo, shrug its shoulders and say, “Guess we’ll just use this one.” The people in charge at the time knew the photographer and chose not to credit them (or the photographer did not want to receive credit) – why was this? Was the conflict between women’s liberation and the mainstream media too tense at the time?

The silence speaks volumes in this case, and while the conflict of the women’s liberation movement most likely had less supporters than fans, I would like to get a better understanding of the ripple effects of protests like the one illustrated at the Atlantic City boardwalk.



2 thoughts on “Illustrating the 1968 Women's Movement

  1. rs138620 says:

    Nice post, the assignment has been successfully completed because there is a primary source and all questions are answered. This is the correct path for making a persuasive argument because it depicts the first hand accounts of women and their struggle for equal rights, an overwhelming conflict leading up to the ’68 election.

  2. Thomas Harbison says:

    Thanks, Caroline, for sharing and raising valuable questions about this image. I am also intrigued about the anonymity of the photographer. Is it possible that AP Images did not commission the photograph, but instead brought it into its collection later? In cases like that (say a bunch of photographs found in someone’s attic), attributing authorship retroactively can be extremely difficult.

    When you say “The silence speaks volumes in this case,” what specifically are referring to? The silence of the artist since it is anonymous? And when you continue with “and while the conflict of the women’s liberation movement most likely had less supporters than fans,” I wonder where you are drawing that conclusion from.

Leave a Reply to rs138620 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s