History is HERstory

15 maya angelou rosemary cunningham

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”

– V.Woolf 

“History is written by the victors.”

– W. Churchill 

For almost all of “history” the victor has been a white male.

And the losers? Everyone else.

The “losers” of written memory: women, aboriginal peoples, the non-able bodied, the sexually deviant*, racial “minorities” etc. have been relegated to the footnotes of history books.

Overlooked, marginalized, trivialized, and at times completely erased, it is only in recent decades that their stories are being researched, reevaluated, told. Illustrator Rosemary Cunningham is one of these “story tellers.”

In her 100 Days of Herstory project, Cunningham attacks this pervasive cultural ignorance through her craft by presenting a new female from history each day.

Easy readability: thick lines, intense color, and even hashtags, rather than complicated and convoluted jargon, educates her followers in an unpretentious manner.

Her subjects are diverse: female scientists, singers, artists, authors, politicians… to name just a few. Like the wide array of their pastimes and careers, Cunningham’s #100DaysofHerstory attempts to portray a full historical spectrum of women.

Though Cunningham admits she does feature a large number of Scottish and British women in her project, she argues that she “wanted the project to be as intersectional as possible,” featuring “people and issues from all over. Tackling politics, nationality, history, transgender issues, race, LGBTQ. There are folk of different ages, occupations, religions.” The illustrator readily notes that 100 posts may seem like a lot, but “it’s tough to reflect a whole picture of Herstory in 100 steps!”

We couldn’t agree more-but Cunningham’s #100DaysofHerstory is a certainly a good start.

Through her graphics, Cunningham combats the historical amnesia which has shrouded women’s history. And if a picture is indeed worth a thousand words-I will let her images do the talking…

69 tove jansson rosemary cunningham
Herstory #70, Tove Jansson, Finnish artist and illustrator.
66 margaret macdonald mackintosh rosemary cunningham
#66, artist and leader of the “Glasgow Style,” Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.
48 ada lovelace rosemary cunningham herstory
#48, 19 century mathematician and “computer” pioneer, Ada Lovelace.
47 roe vs wade rosemary cunningham herstory
Aside from notable women, Cunningham also delves into the issues and themes at the heart of “herstory,” such as #47’s Roe V Wade.
44 joan of arc rosemary cunningham herstory
Saint, warrior, and #44-Joan of Arc.
42 nina simone rosemary cunningham herstory
Cunningham notes that she, “wanted the project to be as intersectional as possible… You’ll notice a disproportionate number of Scots and Brits, but equally there are people and issues from all over, tackling politics, nationality, history, transgender issues, race, LGBTQ, there are folk of different ages, occupations, religions… 100 is a big number of illustrations, but it’s tough to reflect a whole picture of Herstory in 100 steps!”
8 bronte sisters rosemary cunningham
The Brontës aka #8.
With thirty days of “Herstory” left, Cunningham’s project is on-going.
So for a daily dose of #100DaysofHerstory check out Rosemary Cunningham’s website, or her Instagram account.
* “Deviant” here being those throughout history who did not adhere to the cultural “norm” of heteronormative sexuality.
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