Women’s History Month Celebrated by Adding Women Authors to Library Border

AnnaBeth Crittenden, Campus Carrier Assistant Entertainment Editor

For Women’s History Month this year, the library decided to make history of their own by adding women’s names to the list of authors and philosophers painted near the ceiling of the lobby.

The idea had been in circulation for years, after students and faculty began to notice that most the authors listed were white males, the most recent being William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

                                                            Photos by Jason Huynh, Photojournalism Editor
Above: The women authors’ names line the border of the library.  The names “Browning”
were placed together purposefully to recognize the works of both the female and male
authors with the last name.

Below: The women philosophers’ names line up with their male counterparts. 

The only two names that could possibly be female were “Mother Goose” and “Browning.” The latter, however, could refer to either the female author, Elizabeth Barrett Browning or the male poet and playwright, Robert Browning. 

However, according to Sherre Harrington, director of the library,  the librarians refused to add names to the border because of the history surrounding the Memorial Library.

“Because we think they might be historical, no one really wants to change them because they are an artifact of the history of the college,” Harrington said.

Many believed that the names were chosen either by Martha Berry or Kate Macy Ladd, who endowed the library to Berry.

However, the idea of adding female names remained a possiblity.

Christina Bucher, associate professor of English, rhetoric and writing, supported the idea ever since she began working at Berry.

“I had been aware of the names in the library and very aware that they were all male writers and philosophers and always thought it would be really cool to do a counter exhibit,” Bucher said.

Yet, years passed and the exhibit was never made until Amanda Mays, the resource sharing librarian decided to take up the project.

“She really just turned on the engine and got things going,” Bucher said.

Ever since Mays began working at Berry in February of 2013, she has been in charge of planning an exhibit for Women’s History Month and she knew making the additions to the canon would be the perfect  addition for this year’s display.

 “I had been in discussion with other faculty on campus, who were interested in modifying the existing canon by adding women and I really wanted to take that on,” Mays said.

She decided to collaborate with EMPOWER and the department of English, rhetoric and writing in order to begin the process, sending out requests for suggestions of great women philosophers and authors.

After the suggestions were turned in, Bucher and Mays compiled a list.

Their goal was to pair up the women authors to the existing male authors by writing style, genre or year.

The two were also determined to add diversity to their list of female authors.

“We really wanted to include women authors of different nationalities, sexualities, gender identities and through different time periods of writing,” Mays said.

These women included Julian of Norwich, Sylvia Plath, J.K. Rowling, bell hooks and Sandra Cisneros.

The women’s names were then printed and ready to hang.

In order to preserve the historic atmosphere of the painted border, the names were hung directly below the male author’s names with whom they corresponded.

Since the ceiling was so high, workers from the physical plant were brought in to hang the names. 

“I like looking up and seeing that it could even be done,” Mays said.

After the display was finished, additional resources were created so students could learn more about the women’s names that were now on the wall.

The library staff suggested a book of information about the authors with a list of their works.

Mays then created the book and displayed it at the front of the library. The book was a success, prompting two Berry alumni, Nona Sparks Patterson (58) and Susan J. Brandy (70), to ask for a copy in order to learn more about the influential women authors. 

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