Women Magazines and the Construction of Gender

The Lady’s Monthly Museum, Volume 2; 1799
Gift of Dorothy Stout
Kansas State University Historic Costume and Textile Museum, 2008.17.6
Paper, leather, ink, fabric

The Lady’s Monthly Museum; Or, Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction was an English monthly magazine published between 1798 and 1832. A leading women’s periodical, its readers lived through the opening of the New York Stock Exchange, the French Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, the abolition of the slave trade in Britain, and Napoleon’s rise to and fall from power. Typically, the Lady’s Monthly Museum featured segments of serialized novels and dramas published in full over the course of multiple issues, and it also had an agony aunt page. In addition, it was one of the first women’s periodicals to feature colored engravings—the open pages show good examples of such full-color inserts—illustrating fashionable outfits. Targeting upper class and educated women, the magazine published short stories and poems by female authors, profiled important women of the day, and explored topics such as the origin of the English Bluestocking Society, an informal women's social and educational movement led by Elizabeth Montagu and Elizabeth Vesey. Women’s magazines were an important female public space that reflected and reinforced culturally constructed definitions of womanhood, femininity, and female sexuality throughout the nineteenth century. 

This second volume of the Lady’s Monthly Magazine has a fascinating gendered provenance. While we know nothing about its first owner, two female book collectors who were both involved in women’s education and costume history possessed the book later: Roberta Klendshoj and Dorothy Stout. Roberta Klendshoj inserted a bookplate into the volume that establishes her ownership and implies a larger collection of historic women’s magazines. Dorothy Stout, the donor of the volume, took a History of Costume class with Gertrude Lienkaemper at Kansas State University and was so captivated by the topic that she became a tenured faculty in the discipline at Stephens College in Columbia, Misssouri.

 Explore what else Elijah Kampsen learned about the Magazine


Elijah Kampsen