Westport Library, 5 – 29 April 2016

The Modern Wife, Modern Life exhibition continues its tour of Ireland in 2016, and will be on display at Westport Library in County Mayo from 5 to 29 April 2016. Download a pdf of the exhibition leaflet here.

The Exhibition

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.

Modern Wife, Modern Life is generously supported by the National Print Museum, by the University of Hertfordshire, and by those individuals who supported a crowd-funding campaign.

Location

Westport Library, The Crescent, Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland.

Library Opening Hours

Monday: Closed

Tuesday: 10:00am – 7:00pm

Wednesday: 10:00am – 7:00pm

Thursday: 10:00am – 1:30pm : 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Friday: 10:00am – 1:30pm : 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Saturday10:00am – 4:00pm

Sunday: Closed

Other Venues

Modern Wife, Modern Life is a touring exhibition. For details of other venues, please click here.

International Women’s Day 2016

To mark International Women’s Day 2016, I gave a talk at Wexford Town Library this evening where Modern Wife, Modern Life is currently on display. In my talk, I explored the extent to which Irish women’s magazines advocated an equality agenda in the 1960s, looking in particular at women in the workplace and access to contraception.

I was thrilled that the event was not only well attended, but that it also attracted a mixed audience. There were women who remembered the 1960s, those who heard about it from their mothers and a group of school children who are part of a feminist society at the local secondary school. These girls (some of whom are pictured below) asked lots of really insightful questions and were really engaged with the discussion. I was delighted that they came along.

Many thanks to Wexford Library for the invitation to give the talk.

Wexford Town Library, 22 Feb – 12 Mar 2016

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.

The Exhibition

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.

Location

Wexford Town Library, Mallin St., Wexford, Ireland.

Library Opening Hours

Wexford Town 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.

 

Marian Keyes, Senior Executive Librarian at dlr LexIcon, introducing Ciara Meehan and Lorna Sixsmith

Podcast: Ciara Meehan & Lorna Sixsmith on 1960s Marriage

Marian Keyes, Senior Executive Librarian at dlr LexIcon, introducing Ciara Meehan and Lorna Sixsmith. Credit: Michael Liffey / Real Smart Media.

dlr LexIcon hosted a special event in association with the Modern Wife, Modern Life exhibition on 31 October 2015.

Ciara Meehan, historian and Modern Wife, Modern Life curator, and Lorna Sixsmith, author of the recently published How to Be a Perfect Farm Wife, discussed expectations of marriage in 1960s Ireland.

You can now listen back to a podcast of that conversation.

This podcast was recorded by Real Smart Media, and was generously funded by the History Group, School of Humanities at the University of Hertfordshire.

Modern Wife, Modern Life: an Exhibition of Women’s Magazines is on display on the 5th floor (wheelchair accessible) of dlr LexIcon until 15 January 2016.

Buy a copy of Lorna Sixsmith’s Would You Marry a Farmer? or How to be a Perfect Farm Wife here.

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Exhibition Launched by Senator Jillian van Turnhout

IMG_7625 copy

Modern Wife, Modern Life was opened at the National Print Museum on 1 July by Senator Jillian van Turnhout. We were delighted that Senator van Turnhout was available to launch the exhibition, particularly because her mum — Jenny Hassett, nee Coleman (pictured above) — was a 1960s wife and is featured in the ‘Advice for the Newly Married’ section.

Opening her speech, Senator van Turnhout explained,

This is such an interesting concept for me and a unique way of documenting a period of Irish history where woman’s lives were almost exclusively restricted to the private domain, where “traditional values” prevailed, women were legally obliged to leave their public sector employment upon marriage, were prohibited from sitting on a jury and for whom many were too young to know or remember the one and only female Minister (Countess Markievicz 1919-1922).

She also commented,

It did get me thinking about whether this stereotyping of 1960s women as domestic goddesses or wannabe goddesses is any more offensive than the contemporary media obsession about how women of all ages look and perform.

I had a look through the shelves in Easons yesterday evening to get a flavour of the messages Irish women are receiving from magazines in 2015:

“Fifty, fit and flirty”, “How to shift that stubborn baby weight”, “Science validates correlation between hair length and relationship length”, “bikini ready in 7 days”, and enough instructive material that I could re-write the Karma Sutra!!!

Have we really moved on or has the focussed just shifted from the kitchen to the bedroom and incessant talk of weight loss and the quest for eternal youth?!!

You can read the Senator’s speech in full here.

Modern Wife, Modern Life now open at National Print Museum

Modern Wife, Modern Life is an exhibition exploring the ‘ideal wife’ turned ‘modern wife’ in 1960s Ireland as seen through the pages of women’s magazines. Curated by Ciara Meehan, it is now on display at the National Print Museum in Dublin and runs until 30 August 2015.

Download a copy of the press release 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, 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 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.

In addition to the magazines, a series of objects — many of which are on loan from the Irish public — are also be on display.

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