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The Gibson Girl’s America: Drawings by Charles Dana Gibson
from the Library of Congress
Writers in the 1890s and early 1900s described the “New Woman” as an independent and often well-educated, young woman poised to enjoy a more visible and active role in the public arena than women of preceding generations. They agreed that the Gibson Girl represented the visual ideal of this new phenomenon. During her lengthy popularity, the Gibson Girl appeared in varied guises that highlighted her talents and interests as well as her beauty and social skills. As her star faded, the Gibson Girl’s active, vital persona paved the way for future icons, such as the flapper of the 1920s.
Gibson Girls and Flappers
In many ways, Edith Wilson was a good example of a "new woman"--one who was independent, knew her own mind, had confidence in herself, and was able to take on considerable challenges. These characteristics were, however, also the basis of a good deal of criticism, because the idea of independent women was relatively new at the time. The Victorian era, when "proper" women were thought to be subservient to men, was just ending, and the "new" era was just beginning.
The battle for suffrage was finally over. After a 72-year struggle, women had won the precious right to vote. The generations of suffragists that had fought for so long proudly entered the political world.