Historical Issues #1: the international women’s movement

WIDF publications in 6 languages

At work last week my world was illuminated by the appearance of some decrepit yet lovely issues of Women of the Whole World, the journal of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF). According to a UN Chronicle article on the history of the struggle for women’s rights, “the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), established in Paris in late 1945 with an anti-fascist, left-feminist orientation, was the third major international women’s organization involved in the UN.” In her article “From Rosie the Riveter to the Global Assembly Line:
American Women on the World Stage
“, Leila Rupp mentions that the launch of the WIDF “challenged the traditional transnational women’s organizations such as the International Council of Women, the International Alliance of Women, and the WILPF and competed with them at the United Nations over who really represented the world’s women.” For a description of the WIDF as it exists today, see this 2008 interview with the organization’s president.

Women of the Whole World was published in 6 languages (as illustrated above, in an image from the History section of the current WIDF website). My library owns issues of this journal from 1952-1990, but I only had contact with issues from 1957-1969. I was struck by the snazzy cover images; something about them just caught my eye, and I wanted to scan all of them because of how striking they are as a collection. Unfortunately I could only scan a few. Work to do, etc. The cover images of this journal form a diverse and rather artistic snapshot of women from that time period. In the 1950s the covers usually featured children, but for most of the 1960s the images are like those below. I wish these journals could be digitized. Aside from the interesting cover images (which might only be interesting to me) their content would be relevant to scholars of 20th century progressive movements, communism, international politics, and women’s history.

There are some archival collections of WIDF documents, but I don’t know how to find out if anyone has digitized them, actually. It’s possible…but is there some sort of search engine for such things (other than Google)? If libraries don’t create records for their digital collections and submit them to something like WorldCat, the only other thing I know to do is to look for subject portals or webliographies and hope I get lucky. All I found was that you can search the text of some of the issues via the HathiTrust, but full view isn’t available because of copyright. Google has some of the issues from the 1980s-90s available just with snippet view. And for some reason many of them are categorized under “Health and Fitness”. :-/

The captions below are those that were included in the original issue of the journal.

women of the world cover image no1 1960
1960: no. 1. “The new advancement of women resulting from the last fifty years of struggles and successes is admirably personified in this young chinese woman worker. Throughout the entire world women have access to or are fighting for access to every field of public, economic, and social life of their country. Their numbers are particularly great in the field of production and in this regard China has shown the most spectacular example of recent years.”

women of the world cover image no3 1960
1960: no. 3. “Ursula Blau, 23, graduate in agriculture, is the youngest deputy in the German Democratic Republic. Since 1956 she has been one of those in charge of a nationalised agricultural enterprise, and has been busy with the training of apprentices.”

women of the world cover image no3 1962
1962: no 3. “This Korean girl was a member of the folk song and dance ensemble of the Korean People’s Democratic Republic at the World Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957.”

women of the world cover image no4 1962
1962: no. 4. “Dimitra Georgesco is a leading worker of the spinning mill “Romineasca de Bumbac” in Bucharest (Rumanian People’s Republic).”

women of the world cover image no5 1963
1963: no.5. “The young actress Margit Bara, of the Hungarian People’s Republic, is part of the Budapest National Theatre troupe. She was also the star of numerous films some of which have received favourable mention in various international festivals.”

women of the world cover image no12 1963
1963:no.12. “Maria Han-Nandaundo of Angola.”

women of the world cover image no2 1964
1964: no 2. “This young Guatemalan student was part of her country’s delegation to the World Congress of Women.”

women of the world cover image no8 1964
1964: no 8. “Mrs. Lambrakis is the widow of the Greek peace fighter, Gregoris Lambrakis assassinated by fascists in May 1963. Thanking the World Peace Council when they presented her with the Gold Medal (posthumously awarded to her husband) Mrs. Lambrakis said:

‘As a wife and mother, who has suffered the terrible blow of seeing her husband assassinated, I wish to raise my voice from this great platform to people of the world, above all to every woman and mother not to stand by passively, but to play their part in the endeavours to preserve peace, so that their homes and their children, and the homes and children of all countries, may be spared the very real disaster threatening the whole world.'”

As the title of this post indicates, I might try to make a series of blog posts out of the interesting historical tidbits I will inevitably find while working with the periodicals collection. Maybe/hopefully. But not with scans every time. Because that is TIME CONSUMING.

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