A recent virtual talk celebrating the many thousands of women who contributed to the early print industry in western Europe is now available for viewing.
“Wherein She Plainly Shews:” Women of the Printing Trades in the Hand-Press Era was presented by Ruth-Ellen St. Onge, distinctive collections cataloguing librarian, and Myron Groover, archives and rare books librarian, on Nov. 7, 2023.
“McMaster University Library is home to a great number of rare books, broadsides, and pamphlets that were printed or published by women during the hand-press era,” said St. Onge. “This exhibition helps reveal the lesser known but critically important role women played in the printing trades.”
St. Onge, who curated the exhibition with Groover, says these stories can be difficult to uncover, as it involves working against the grain of historical legal systems and guild rules — both of which excluded women from the workforce for much of the early modern period.
In their presentation, St. Onge and Groover offer a detailed look at a selection of books and pamphlets that were produced or printed by women and woman-owned presses during the hand-press era.
“When you consider the structural barriers that women in the hand-press era faced at all corners of the printing trades, it’s even more remarkable that we have these examples to share,” said Groover.
The online presentation supplements an in-person exhibition now on display to the public until spring 2024 at the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections in Mills Memorial Library. It is presented as part of McMaster University Library’s series, Transformative Stories: Year of Gender and Justice.
An online version of the exhibition is available here.
About Transformative Stories: Year of Gender and Justice
Transformative Stories: Year of Gender and Justice is presented by McMaster University Library in collaboration with campus and community partners, and will feature a lineup of free, public programming from fall 2023 through summer 2024. The series is part of McMaster University Library’s biannual “Year of” celebrations, which are aimed at highlighting the library’s unique collections, resources, and expertise and emphasizing its vital role in supporting the research, teaching, and learning mission of the university. For more information, visit the Year of Gender and Justice webpage.