Introduction

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Welcome to Envisioning Women's Places in the 19th Century: Photographs from the George Washington Wilson Collection.

Presenting rarely seen photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian era, this exhibition showcases the spaces women inhabited, from the studio to the golf course, and from as far afield as Australia. It demonstrates the broad range of activities in which women participated during this moment of transition from 19th-century industrialisation to the modernity of the pre-war 20th century.

Aberdonian photographer George Washington Wilson, his son Charles, and the employees of the George Washington Wilson & Co. company, captured images of women from all classes of society and from across the world. Containing some of the most striking works from the vast George Washing Wilson & Co. collection, this exhibition brings women's lives - the hard labour they often undertook, as well as their means of entertainment and enjoyment - into focus.

Like many 19th-century photography collections, the George Washington Wilson archive includes images that record western imperial and colonial enterprises in regions around the world. Research for the present exhibition revealed photographs of indigenous women and girls (and men and boys) on the African and Australian continents. These images document the ethnographic, exoticizing, and racially coded attitudes towards people and bodies that were often present in images captured by travelling photographers in this period. They are openly accessible in the searchable database of the entire collection.

We are grateful to the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grants funding scheme for supporting this project.

Scroll through the photographs  - which are presented with their historic titles  - below. Or, navigate the exhibition by theme using the sidebar.

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Click on the slideshow to scroll through the images yourself

Introduction