It has been a busy summer plugging away on Wheelwomen at Work, my digital humanities project mapping women’s involvement in the nineteenth-century bicycle industry. This summer I completed two major tasks. First, I nearly doubled the amount of pins on the map. Much of my new material highlights women’s work in factories, and I also added some new women inventors as well. Tracking down more women mechanics and saleswomen has not been easy. Records on women’s wage work from this period come with tons of challenges and limitations. But, I did find some, such as the 60 women who worked at Amos Shirley’s large bike shop in New York City. I was also hoping to find more geographically diverse data. But I am happy that I added new types of factory work, like small clothing operations such as he Vinestine and Goldberg Sweatshop and the Fayetteville Glove Company, and leading bicycling corporations of the time, like Hartford Rubber Works and Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing Company. For my second task, I added to the site with an essay titled “Women in the Nineteenth-Century Bicycle Industry” found under the brand new “learn more” tab. With this essay, I provide a big picture view on women’s work in the bicycle industry and discuss how each category of wheelwomen’s work was key to the industry as a whole. I’m hoping this helps the user add context to the individual pins and see the big picture of the project.
While I have completed the big tasks for my project, Wheelwomen at Work will be far from static. I plan to keep adding pins to the map and images to the gallery as I work on my dissertation. I hope it leads me to find even more ways to unearth and document women’s contribution to the bicycle industry and bicycling culture more broadly.
Image source: Advertisement. “Bicycle Lamps.” The Wheel and Cycling Trade Review, Vol. X, no. 21, January 13, 1893, 57. Google Books.