Archives for posts with tag: Equality

Toys can often tell more about a culture and its values than they initially let on. We control what we market, and more specifically who we market to. In stores, it is not difficult to separate the toys meant for boys from those meant for girls. There distinct and subtle indicators that alert the customer to items that are gender specific. The Easy-Bake Oven is a popular toy that has appeared in different forms throughout the years.[1] Due to imagery associated with its advertising, as well as a gender specific color scheme, this item is obviously intended for girls rather than boys. Closer examination of the Easy-Bake Oven gives insight into modern gender equality issues that the Women’s Rights Movement have been combating for years. Although women gained the right to vote in New York in 1917, they continue to battle misguided beliefs and traditional gender stereotypes in their pursuit of true equality. The belief that an oven, and by extension domestic life, is best suited for women is a sign that we have not made as many strides in our search for equality as we might think.

Easy-Bake Oven 2009

(Fig.1) Easy-Bake Oven, 2009, plastic, 14″ x 7″ x 8″. (Cooperstown Graduate Program), Cooperstown, New York, T2013.078.1a.

This 2009 example of an Easy-Bake Oven (Fig.1) features many similar design choices to a previous model from 1963 (Fig.2). While the shape of the oven has changed, there are certain visual traits that have remained in both the object itself and its packaging. One of the most notable features are the colors used in both models of the Easy-Bake Oven. Viewers can immediately note that the colors are lighter in shade. Turquoise blues appear on the body of both ovens, and pink features on the box of the 2009 model. These colors, especially pink, would indicate that these items are intended for girls only. Pink is considered a feminine color, and would therefore classify the Easy-Bake Oven as a “girl toy”.[2]  In addition, the visual materials of the 2009 Easy-Bake Oven, such as the box (Fig.3), exclusively depict girls playing with the toy. If it was not clear before, this would undoubtedly confirm who was playing with an Easy-Bake Oven.

Easy-Bake Oven 1963

(Fig.2) Easy-Bake Oven, circa 1963, plastic, 21″ x 16″ x 8.25″. (Cooperstown Graduate Program), Cooperstown, New York, T2013.079.1.


Easy-Bake Oven Box 2009.jpg

(Fig.3) Easy-Bake Oven, 2009, cardboard, 16″ x 8″ x 9″. (Cooperstown Graduate Program), Cooperstown, New York, T2013.078.3.

While we like to think that we have made advances in our search for universal equality between 1963 and 2009, we continue to tell girls they belong at home by tailoring toys that perpetuate and condition them to this stereotype. The prominence of toys geared towards young girls that promote domestic life indicate that we still believe those should be the spheres they inhabit. We continue to force our children into outdated gender roles, and enforce these beliefs with the toys we market and purchase for them. They lack of change in our mentality towards the Easy-Bake Oven and what it represents illustrates the work still required regarding gender equality.

By: Michael Barone

[1] “Easy-Bake Oven,” The Strong National Museum of Play: National Toy Hall of Fame,

[2] Erica S. Weisgram, Megan Fulcher, Lisa M. Dinella, “Pink gives girls permission: Exploring the roles of explicit gender labels and gender-typed colors on preschool children’s toy preferences,” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 35(2014): 402.


A page from Effa Manley’s scrapbook. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).


Effa Manley in the dugout, from a newspaper article in her scrapbook. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

Effa Manley, the only woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, collected items and placed them into a scrapbook showcasing her incredible accomplishments. She, along with her husband Abe, managed the Newark Eagles, a Negro League baseball team, from 1935 to 1948. [1] In an occupation dominated by men, Effa excelled and commanded respect from her male counterparts. In addition to her professional achievements, she involved herself in a number of social justice causes, all related to advancing the rights of African-Americans. Her scrapbook documents these successes and her activist efforts. Though she did not specifically embrace women’s causes, her accomplishments were affected and made possible by the women’s suffrage movement and the atmosphere of opportunity and activism at the time.

Effa’s scrapbook primarily contains photographs and newspaper clippings, spanning from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. One of the first items in her scrapbook is a newspaper clipping from August 1934 detailing the end of a successful boycott in which Effa participated. She, along with many others, boycotted businesses who wouldn’t hire black workers. [2] Effa also supported blacks in efforts more directly related to baseball: she offered free admission to Eagles games for African-American servicemen during World War II. The scrapbook includes a few certificates commending her work. [3]


One of the newspaper articles in the scrapbook discusses the successful boycott of businesses that did not hire African-Americans. Effa participated in the boycott and picketed these businesses. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).


Cartoon in a newspaper article in the scrapbook. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

The scrapbook also documents racial issues and debates. Though African-Americans had won the right to vote over fifty years ago, many opportunities were closed to them and many institutions maintained separate programs and facilities, including baseball leagues. Effa’s scrapbook contains a number of articles both praising and criticizing the Negro Leagues. Additionally, a few racist cartoons appear, making fun of black baseball players. [4] Effa may have included these in her memories to record the sentiment of the time.

Of course, the scrapbook has content related to the Newark Eagles, like scores and photographs of players. Effa worked to gain compensation for players who went to the Major Leagues from the Negro Leagues after baseball’s integration in 1947. [5] Her efforts solidified the legitimacy of the Negro Leagues and are documented in the scrapbook. The scrapbook also contains a few articles about Effa herself and discuss her place as a woman in baseball. These pieces praise her work and comment on her pioneering presence in the realm of professional sports.

Born in 1900 in Philadelphia, Effa grew up hearing discussions of women’s suffrage. Though she was probably too young to fully participate in the protests and marches occurring in Philadelphia during this time, she would have been aware of it. In fact, after high school, she moved to New York City, where she lived when women’s suffrage legislation passed in 1917. [6] The success of the movement resulted in new opportunities for women and a confirmation that women could effect positive change. Effa Manley could not have accomplished as much as she did had it not been for the possibilities opened by the suffrage movement. Her work, documented through her scrapbook, was inspired by and made possible by the achievements of women before her.


Writing on a page of Effa’s scrapbook. It reads, “If a task you’ve once begun/Never quit until it’s done/Be the labor great or small/Do it well or not at all” Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

Amanda Berman



[1] “Effa Manley,” National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, accessed March 20, 2017,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Effa Manley scrapbook, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

[5] Amy Essington, “Manley, Effa 1900-1981,” Black Past, accessed March 20, 2017,

[6] “Effa Manley,” National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, accessed March 20, 2017,

Hilary Clinton, Courtesy of: South Florida Times

Hilary Clinton, Courtesy of: South Florida Times

In a year, the White House may open its doors to the first female president. In the early nineteenth century this idea would have been unthinkable. Women had a clear purpose: it was to be at home, in the domestic sphere. But is this really true? Shortly after the American Revolution the idea of Republican Motherhood was born. This was the notion that women needed to be educated in order to raise virtuous, civically moral, and patriotic sons who would go on to serve the republic. While at the same time teaching republican ideology, the belief in a free and democratic society, to their daughters to ensure they would pass it along to their sons. This meant women were leaving the home and seeking education, thus redefining the domestic sphere.

One ring eagle butter mold with patriotic shield, late eighteen or early nineteen-century. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York.

One ring eagle butter mold with patriotic shield, late eighteen or early nineteen-century. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York.

Republican ideology was taught in the home and came in many forms. One way we see this idea manifest is through butter molds. This butter mold, constructed in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, features an eagle and patriotic shield, similar to the great shield. Typically in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries butter molds were crudely constructed by something similar to a pocketknife through what was called chip-carving. There were patterns for such carvings, and little originality was seen between items. The patterns could be used for things such as dower chests, ceramics, and so on. The designs usually contained eagles, doves, tulips and hearts, and geometric designs. [1] While fairly bland in idea and design, patriotic butter molds served a larger purpose. They were a way for families to show others that they were politically responsible, and remind their sons of their civic duty.

Mother and children making butter, Courtesy of: Explore PA History

Mother and children making butter, Courtesy of: Explore PA History

Butter molds are an interesting decorative piece; however, they shed little light on the role of women in the public sphere. It is actually the history of butter making that shows the emergence of women outside the home. Generally, the male role in butter making was simply to care for and manage the cows. It was the women who milked, sorted cream, packaged the butter, and in many cases traveled to markets to trade the butter they made. In fact, butter was a way in which rural farmers took part in the rise of capitalism in America. They now had a product that could be sold all year long. And women were a vital component of the rise of what would become the butter industry. [2]

Carly Fiorina, Courtesy of: The New York Times

Carly Fiorina, Courtesy of: The New York Times

Republican mothers from the early nineteenth century are clearly different then the republican mothers we know today. However, it was these women who were the first to introduce political values and teachings in the home, thus justifying political sensibility for women and challenging the idea of domesticity. Without this movement a female presidential candidate may not be possible today. So while butter molds may seem like an insignificant part of our history, they are actually one of the bricks on the path to equality. Women are an asset to our children, families, and our country, whether they are making butter or running for president.

-Melissa Olsen

  1. The Complete Encyclopedia of Antiques (London: Hawthorn Books, 1959), 615.
  2. Joan M. Jensen, Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850 (Yale: Yale University, 1986), 93.
  3. Sita Ranchod-Nilsson and Mary Ann Tetreault , Women, States, and Nationalism: At home in the nation? (London: Routledge, 2000), last modified 2015,
  4. mothers&ots=BbI7d8OBJj&sig=BPcAugjB_JuyeM3wCpN1VCk-nBE#v=onepage&q=republican%20mothers&f=false
  5. Rosemarie Zagarri , Morals, Manners, and the Republican Mother, American Quarterly Vol. 44, No. 2, (Johns Hopkins University Press, June, 1992), 192-215, last modified 1992,
  6. Linda Kerber The Republican Mother: Women and the Enlightenment-An American Perspective, American Quarterly. pp. Vol. 28, No. 2, (An American Enlightenment, 1976), 187–205.
  7. Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1980) 5-35.
  8. One ring eagle butter print, late eighteen or early nineteen-century, Wood, Diameter 3.25 Inches. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Parke Bernet Auction, N0184.1973. Photographed by Melissa Olsen