A founder in the field of women’s studies, and former Missouri State Alumnus, spoke on campus Friday about her studies of the historic role of women working in skilled labor over the centuries. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann had the opportunity to meet with her before the presentation and has this report.
Dr. Hilda Smith is Professor Emerita University of Cincinnati, and a leader in the field of women’s history. She says during her early academic career, she was often laughed at for even considering the idea of women’s roles in history. Smith forged ahead, and as a founder of the field has published many articles and books that look deeper into women’s roles in history. Her discussion on campus this week focuses on the role of skilled labor and women, and its lack of representation in early modern art.
“The general view was that women really were not apprentices, they did not work their way up, and that they didn’t do a whole range of jobs that they did do. But I found many who were ship builders, who were printers. Another scholar who I know found over 200 women who produced guns in the 17thcentury,” Smith says.
Smith says much of her period research was done in London, where she found women were not only apprentices, but were also master tradeswomen and business owners. She says what fascinates her and guides her research centers around how art of this period does not accurately represent her findings.
“What I’m doing is to try to come up with illustrations, or an explanation of lack of illustrations, of these skilled women workers,” says Smith.
Smith completed her undergraduate work at MSU in education. She completed her masters in history at the University of Missouri and later went on to receive her doctorate from the University of Chicago. We will feature more from our interview with Dr. Hilda Smith during Women’s History Month in March.