About me

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.

me w Radcliffe swimsuit
This one-piece woman’s swimsuit made of denim was the standard worn by Radcliffe College students in the 1910s and 1920s. Schlesinger Library holds this original suit in its Radcliffe College collections.

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 marilyn@consumingcultures.net.

I appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

4 Replies to “About me”

  1. Love the post Marilyn. Definitely was a shocker to see the difference in uniforms designs and how Ethelda was a spark on so many levels. You definitely made some sharp points throughout the written piece. I will be sure to share.

  2. This information is incredible. Who knew what it was like back in the day. Thank you for bringing this to light and sharing with us.

  3. You write some eye-opening articles, Mar. I’m enjoying learning about the history and current culture of swimsuits and how the perception of the bathing suit has evolved from sacred to scant.

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