Modern Wife, Modern Life continues its tour of Ireland in 2016, and will be on display at Wexford Town Library from 22 February to 12 March. There will also be a special curator’s talk for International Women’s Day on 8 March at 7pm.
Download the exhibition leaflet here.
Manuals on how to be a good wife had been widely available in Ireland at the start of the twentieth century, but with the emergence of new technologies, the advice extended to newly married women and housewives began to change in the 1960s. The concept of being an ‘ideal wife’ became closely bound up with being a ‘modern wife’. This is best identified in the pages of women’s magazines — Woman’s Way, Woman’s View and Woman’s Choice — which came to replace the traditional manual as a source for guidance. The message, driven by the advertisers, was clear: a ‘good wife’ was not just beautifully presented, but also used all the latest ‘modern’ devices. Her home – especially the kitchen – was an extension of her appearance and reputation. ‘Modern life’ and ‘modern wife’ became blended into the one ideal.
The exhibition, curated by Ciara Meehan, covers several themes: the growth of women’s magazines; advice for newly-married wives; beauty and presentation; the Housewife of the Year competition; new technologies and the home; women behind the wheel; and wives who work.
Curator’s Talk, 8 March at 7pm
Wexford Town Library will mark International Women’s Day with a talk by Ciara Meehan that considers the representation of Irishwomen in 1960s magazines. Drawing on editorials, letters and columns published in Woman’s Way, Woman’s Choice and Woman’s View magazines, Ciara will explore the extent to which women’s magazines advocated a change in the position of women in Irish society. She will show how some of the themes that later came to be identified with the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s could be found in the pages of such publications in the 1960s.
Wexford Town Library, Mallin St., Wexford, Ireland.
Library Opening Hours
Modern Wife, Modern Life is generously supported by the University of Hertfordshire, and by those individuals who supported a crowd-funding campaign.