Tulane University Online Exhibits

Mary Gehman's Feminist Ephemera

Dublin Core


Mary Gehman's Feminist Ephemera


Violence Against Women in New Orleans during the 1970's-1980's


This collection examines ephemera concerning discrimination and violence against women in New Orleans in the late twentieth century.
“Mary Gehman’s Feminist Ephemera: Violence Against Women” is a narrowly-focused exhibit that falls within the “Feminist Ephemera Series” in the “Mary Gehman Papers Collection,” housed in the Newcomb Archive on Tulane University’s campus. Mary Gehman is a feminist, journalist, and activist who lived in New Orleans from 1970 to 2005, when she migrated to Donaldsville, L.A. after Hurricane Katrina. Though involved in numerous movements in New Orleans, Gehman asserts that her role as a journalist and the editor of Distaff was the highest priority in her life. Gehman collected materials from local events that informed her journalism and publication.

Gehman donated her files on women in New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as the materials she collected through her job as the editor of Distaff, to the Newcomb Center for Research on Women at Tulane University in the spring of 2016. These materials include not only Feminist Ephemera, the second series, but also the first series in the larger collection, which consists of original copies of Distaff. The third series in the collection is a general papers and publications series, including correspondence, Distaff planning and layout documents, feminist periodicals and newsletters, and newspaper clippings. The Feminist Ephemera series is comprised of ephemera, which are items that one would typically discard after the first use or until the purpose of the material is fulfilled. Examples include newspapers, flyers, and pamphlets.

Though the Feminist Ephemera series comprises a plethora of issues, the history of violence against women is one that seemed most imperative to explore, particularly in the wake of the Tulane Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct. The survey, which was released on January 31, 2018, reports that nearly half of undergraduate women at Tulane have experienced sexual assault during their time at the university. I decided to narrow the focus to ephemera regarding violence against women as it is still extremely topical, even though the majority of the items in the collection were distributed three decades ago. As the exhibit depicts, this issue has been one plaguing Tulane and the greater New Orleans community for decades.

Not only does the exhibit display items about rape and sexual harassment, but also domestic violence, disparaging representations of women in the media, the group Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW), and the Take Back the Night march, founded by WAVAW and still operative today. This exhibit depicts how the dialogue surrounding and the language used to describe these atrocities have changed greatly in recent years. Certain items in this exhibit show how the issue was discussed at the time, such as the item “A Study of Rape Booklet,” in which the activism focuses on prevention and coping on part of the victim, rather than preemptive efforts to stop the perpetrators from committing the crimes. Though the discourse surrounding culpability and equality is changing for the better, it is imperative we look to the past to understand how we can change the future.


Zoe Miller

Items in the Mary Gehman's Feminist Ephemera Collection

A Study of Rape Booklet
This booklet contains information regarding rape prevention and tips for victims of rape. It was created by J.A. Rosenfeld and published by Women Against Crime in November 1974. In the "Dedication" on the inside of the front cover, Rosenfeld states…

District Attorney of New Orleans Protection Information
A statement from Harry F. Connick, the District Attorney of New Orleans at the time, regarding self-protection for women. It includes information about awareness in one's own neighborhood, when one is out, if one suspects there is an intruder in…

The Difference Between a Lover and a Rapist Pamphlet
This Tulane-created pamphlet provides information on how to distinguish between a lover and a rapist. This information is presented on opposing sides on the inside of the item, and each argument is juxtaposed by its opposite. Also on the inside are…

Letter to WSMB Radio
On July 27, 1992, Mary Gehman wrote a letter to WSMB Radio regarding the constant ads for Hooters. In the letter, she delineates the reason Hooters is a sexist, problematic establishment and why the radio stations shouldn't accept its sponsorship.…

Domestic Violence Handbook
This handbook contains information regarding domestic violence. The booklet defines and gives examples of abuse and domestic violence. It addresses 10 commonly believed "myths" about domestic violence and responds to them with the truth concerning…

Tulane EAR Flyer
This small flyer promotes Tulane EAR (Education, Aid, Response), which was a hotline at Tulane comprised of people who would listen to students who have experienced sexual aggression or rape. It is printed on thick blue paper and the information is…

"P.R.E.P. Rape Avoidance Seminar" release statement, hosted by DePaul Hospital Community Mental Health Center
A release statement promoting the free and public YWCA Rape Crisis Services P.R.E.P Project seminar on how one can avoid being a victim of rape.

Women & Employment (A Case of Discrimination) Pamphlet
This pamphlet details Gloria Guay's experience with gender-based discrimination in the workplace, as well as general facts about discrimination against women.

Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) Informational Flyer
Volunteers of the Rape Crisis Service and victims of rape created the Women Against Violence Against Women group and were committed to community outreach and social protest. At the bottom is a form for individuals to express their interest in…

Take Back the Night Declaration and Demands
The creation of the "Take Back the Night" movement, created by Women Against Violence Against Women to protest against the violence the women of New Orleans experience on a daily basis. This proclamation contains two parts, the declaration, and…

Take Back the Night Speech
This is a copy of the speech Donna Myhre delivered on January 26, 1980 at a rally after the Take Back the Night March. It discusses the grievances of the women of New Orleans that was the catalyst for the TBTN March.

Crescent House Information Mail
This object was distributed by Crescent House in 1983, asking for donations for their non-profit organization which helps abused women and children. Not only does Crescent House provide temporary housing, but they also provide information about how…

Alternatives to Violence Pamphlet
This pamphlet contains information regarding the workshops that were offered on November 8, 1986, at the First Unitarian Church. The topics of the workshops offered include how to avoid violence, learning self-defense, how war was perceived in the…

Tulane Sexual Harassment Pamphlet
This blue pamphlet delineates Tulane University's stance and policy on sexual harassment, as well as how the university defines sexual harassment. Inside the pamphlet on the right side is a chart that outlines the services available to members of the…

Letter to Gehman from Wheeler
In the Feminist Ephemera series, there are a few items from correspondence between Gehman and her colleagues. This particular letter, written by Helen Wheeler, introduces an article Wheeler offers Gehman to print in Distaff. This article is a…

Response to Memorandum Regarding Budget Cuts for Domestic Violence Programs in Louisianna
As an activist, Gehman contacted numerous politicians in an effort to influence policy and change decisions that may be harmful to women. Presented is one example of this outreach, as Gehman wrote to Governor Edwin W. Edwards concerning budget cuts…

Take Back the Night Rally and March Flyer
Flyer for a march hosted by Take Back the Night at Tulane University from 4 pm to 8 pm on Friday, April 8, 1983. This orange legal-sized flyer is highly decorated and contains information about the march, including notes handwritten by Gehman,…

The Rape Crisis Network Pamphlet
This pamphlet created and distributed by The Rape Crisis Network contains information for victims of rape. Provided are the services and contact information for the Charity Hospital Rape Crisis Center, YWCA Rape Crisis Service, Travelers Aid Society,…

P.O.W.E.R. Rally Notes
P.O.W.E.R. (Plain Ordinary Women Expecting Results) was an affiliate of Women Against Violence Against Women.