Events & exhibitions

Catching the Wave: Photographs of the Women’s Movement

  • Monday, November 7, 2016 through
    Friday, March 17, 2017
  • Schlesinger Library
    3 James Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138
[Women's Strike for Equality March. 1970. Photo by Bettye Lane, courtesy of Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University]
First women's march down Fifth Avenue, August 26, 1970. Photo by Bettye Lane, courtesy of Schlesinger Library

Among the treasures in the Schlesinger Library are photograph collections that document the women’s liberation movement between the late 1960s and 1980s. This exhibition highlights the work of two influential feminist photographers during that tumultuous era. Bettye Lane and Freda Leinwand spent years capturing the moments—large and small—that transformed American history. The two photographers lived and worked out of the same artist studios, Westbeth Artist Housing, in New York City. Although marches, protests, and demonstrations were often the focus of their art, the city served as a central subject in the images Lane and Leinwand captured. The Schlesinger Library began collecting the work of Lane and Leinwand in 1979 and acquired the remainder of their collections from their families between 2012 and 2014, after their deaths.

In addition to the work of Lane and Leinwand, four other professional photographers are featured: Catherine Allport, Mima Cataldo, Diana Mara Henry, and Dorothea Jacobson-Wenzel. The work of all of these photographers comprises a compellingly candid visual documentation of the issues and events of the modern women’s movement, which the artists not only chronicled but also participated in and shaped.

Explore the website, The website features all of the women's movement photographs by Bettye Lane and Freda Leinwand, which were digitized as a result of a Harvard Library Hidden Collections grant awarded to the Schlesinger Library. The grant provided a means for the Schlesinger Library to produce an unparalleled visual documentation of the women’s liberation movement and to make it available to users all over the world. Due to the generosity of the grant, over 4,000 photographs, slides, and negatives were cataloged and digitized. Women’s rights marches, women in politics, economic equality, ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), gay and lesbian rights, women’s sexuality, peace demonstrations, violence against women, and women in sports are some of the common themes represented in the legacies of these two remarkable photographers.

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