Hi, I’m Marilyn Morgan and welcome to my research blog! An archivist, professor, historian, and baker of all things chocolate, I investigate—and encourage students to explore—social trends, cultural stereotypes, and discrimination of various sorts throughout American history.
I’m especially interested in how the mass media shapes and perpetuates our cultural construction of gender and gendered stereotypes. The ways we have used, and continue to use, gender to market and advertise food products fascinate me.
I worked as an archivist (2005-2014) at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Harvard University, while earning my PhD in American History. Currently, I’m the Director of the Archives Program in History at UMass Boston. As an educator, I’m committed to preserving the past, invigorating teaching by using primary sources, and making archival materials accessible to a broad public audience. I’m a bit of a geek and I love collaborating with other local archivists to teach students how to create metadata for digital archives and design interactive online exhibits. I love writing and teaching cultural history because I believe stories have the power to transform our lives. And that’s essentially why this site exists.
While writing a book on the history of swimsuits as cultural artifacts, advertising & socially-constructed gender roles, I started teaching a class at the Harvard Summer School, Gender, Food & Culture in American History. Inspired by teaching that fun class, I’ve begun working on a book about gender, food advertising, convenience foods & cooking. So… how are those topics–swimsuits, food & gender related? From roughly the 1920s until the present, advertisers have used images of women in swimsuits to sell a host of products–many of which aren’t even remotely related to swimming–such as apples, chocolate, hamburgers, and washing machines. Why? I hope to have fun investigating on this site.
If you have run across any interesting ads or have photographs, videos, or letters about marathon swimmers or beach trips, particularly in the early 20th century, or if you see any curious vintage food packaging, products or advertisements, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I appreciate any feedback. Thanks!