Actress in Male Attire, featured on this postcard, was photographed by a photographer unknown to us today sometime between 1900-1910. The postcard commemorates the exhibition Women's Work, on view July 21, 2023 - July 7, 2024
Is this actress performing in a role or is she simply presenting herself as she wished to be seen? Clothes make the man, and as we see in this photographic postcard, clothes make the woman as well. The subject of this photograph remains unknow to us today, as does her photographer, an image believed to have been produced between 1900 and 1910.
Although women could be arrested for wearing male attire in their day-to-day lives, the theater offered space for women to parody masculinity and class. "Male impersonators" were very popular in late nineteenth and early twentieth century vaudeville, often portraying upper-class "dandies" or "swells," smoking cigars, and singing suggestive songs.
The Center for Women’s History new exhibition showcases approximately 45 objects from New-York Historical’s own Museum and Library collections to demonstrate how “women’s work” defies categorization. Curated by the Center for Women’s History curatorial staff and fellows.