I am excited to announce that Wheelwomen at Work is live!
Over the past academic year, I’ve been researching, writing and developing my CHI digital humanities project Wheelwomen at Work: Mapping Women’s Involvment in the Nineteenth-Century Bicycle Industry. For my launch post, I am going to recap why I developed the project, what tools I used, and future directions for the project.
My dissertation explores how nineteenth-century women used bicycling as an activist strategy. While conducting research, I uncovered how women’s involvement in the nineteenth-century bicycle industry was multifaceted and key to the industry as a whole, even though men held leadership positions in bicycle companies. I have found evidence of women who designed and produced bicycle accessories and clothing, while others developed frames and components. Women also worked in bicycle shops in sales and even as mechanics, and it was common for bicycle corporations to hire women as sales ‘agents’ to promote their brand. Other women quietly worked their way up to management positions in local factories. Young, working- class women were the invisible laborers behind most components and accessories, working long hours in dangerous machine shops and factory floors. I found a wealth of sources on women in the bicycle industry, yet they were largely scattered across archives. I believed these sources could be much more useful to scholars and lay enthusiasts in an accessible and organized format. I hoped that digitally curating these sources could allow for a deeper and richer understanding of women’s contributions to the bicycle industry, instead of reading individual women’s work as an outlining example isolated from one another.