James’ Brand New Blog

JBNBlog (hearts) Women, Freedom & Hosiery

- January 30th, 2013

penmans london

Undated photograph of the Penmans plant in London, courtesy of images.ourontario.ca

JBNBlog is happy to support a remarkable new project undertaken by Western librarian & all-round ace person Jennifer Lorraine Fraser. An outline of Jennifer’s plans follow . . . JBNBlog is looking for names/details/images of women in London who might have been actors & models oh, say, 90 years ago . . . this will perhaps augment the Sarnia-born early Hollywood star Marie Prevost (tragically it would seem the original for Nick Lowe’s Marie Provost, the “winner that became the doggie’s dinner”).

JBNBlog is also hoping to find images of the hosiery mills listed in the background material here . . . & perhaps others in London undetected in the research so far.

Before turning this over to JLF, JBNBlog notes the help of (ahem) Hugh Hefner — no hero to JBNBlog, but then Churchill was prepared to say something positive about the devil in the House of Commons should Hitler have invaded Hell — has also been enlisted on Twitter.com.

If so, Hef, here is something good you can do as the twilight glimmers for us all.

On a less judgmental note, over to JLF & her fantastic project:

Women, Freedom and Hosiery “When I put on my own silk stockings, then I knew I was free.”[1] (FROM A MICHELLE LANDSBERG ARTICLE)

Inspired by the brand new course, What (Not) To Wear I VAH 2235F offered by the Department of Visual Arts at Western University with Professor Kirsty Robertson and the assistance of T.A. Julia Kruegger; Women, Freedom and Hosiery will be a multi-facetted exhibition juxtaposing three separate histories of women’s work, expression and identity within the hosiery and entertainment industries over the past 100 years.

London Ontario was once home to three hosiery mills, The Holeproof Hosiery Mill, 1911, The London Hosiery Mill LTD, 1915 and Penman’s LTD, 1919.[2]  Young women, preferred for their dexterity and strong work ethic, kept the hosiery mills of Ontario operating. Some of these preferred female workers arrived at the mills as a result of revisions to the Female Refuges Act of Ontario which enabled the conviction of women on the grounds of immoral behavior and sentenced them to hosiery mill work; women as young as 14 described as displaying deviance and seemingly rejecting authority faced this lawful incarceration. The act therefore legally bound young women, who were doing little more than discovering their individual and perceived sexual identity, to work in the mills. During this same time, Mary Prevost moved from Sarnia, Ontario to Hollywood to work as a silent film “bathing beauty” actress while other women of the era appeared portrayed in arcade girly cards treasured by among others, World War 1 servicemen.

The exhibition Women Freedom and Hosiery will juxtapose the deviant female imagery of the time with a didactic history of the Female Refuges Act of Ontario and contemporary artists working in London, Ontario today within the vein of the “Bad Girl/Good Girl” pin-up oeuvre. Three main goals will be accomplished: 1) to shed light on the poor working conditions of young women incarcerated for presenting a sexualized identity in the early twentieth century, 2) to remember the women who, beyond all perceived good moral judgment, created careers for themselves within this identifiable imagery and C) to showcase what was once considered immoral is now an empowered female imagery for women in the twenty-first century.

The Exhibition will be held at the DB Weldon Library in the Spencer Gallery and will consist of a publication, contemporary imagery and Original and/or reproduced Arcade Cards/Posters from the early twentieth century primarily from the archival collection of Ms. Judith Purdy and images of Mary Prevost during her career as a Hollywood silent film star. The Catalogue will include four essays, one of which will be written by a guest writer, and fellow Art History student Kimberly Barton. The topics included within the catalogue will be: The history of the hosiery mills of London, Ontario, A short history of Marie Prevost, The history of the arcade card and how it evolved into the Pin-up imagery of the 1950s and the nature of the Female Refuges Act of Ontario, Women’s Identity Then and Now.

The exhibition will provide a dynamic introduction into the creative possibilities of studying art history, a discussion and demonstration of what is possible if you have a passion about a small class assignment and how it can grow into an independent study and a demonstration of options available to Students during their undergraduate degree. Women Freedom and Hosiery also offers an interesting history of empowerment for young women, embarking upon their own life purpose. A lesson on the pains women have endured in Ontario and how they sought to overcome these issues by education, strong leadership and positivity will be beneficial to many different students in search of their own identity. And last but not least, a fun, entertaining and educational exhibit of what is brewing within pop culture currently and discussion of how the imagery we see in music videos, on social media or within Hollywood Glam identities became what it is today.

Categories: Entertainment

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9 comments

  1. Submit-Button bereaved online reader says:

    JBNBlog on behalf of:

    Submit-Button bereaved online reader

    (Here’s a later note) . . . I err. This was the strange Demerson-Yip case which started in 1939, ++
    she was freed in l940, so her clothing was pre-war. Apparently it was
    her own parents who initiated her being taken into custody.

    To clarify, it wasn’t Ms. Landsberg, born the summer just before we
    went to war making sheer stockings a rarity for years, who cried
    “When I put on my own silk stockings, then I knew I was free.”
    It was a woman being discharged from Mercer Reformatory mid’60s
    “When Velma was discharged early after nine months, she didn’t even
    smile at the news.Not until the matron brought her her street clothes..”
    –Suspect they were Nylons by then, but not yet pantihose, an essential
    with the introduction of the mini-skirt.
    ______________________
    Does your format now bar input from those viewers who will not sign up
    to one of those services who collect personal information?

  2. Stephen Harding says:

    Let’s not forget Holeproof Hosiery Co. of Canada, a division of Julius Kaiser & Co. at 203-213 Bathurst St. in London. This factory was one of many industries located in the SoHo neighbourhood. Holeproof knew how to promote stockings.

  3. Cindy Hartman says:

    Let’s not forget the old Supersilk Hoisery Mill that was located on Florence St near Eleanor St ( how very feminine sounding). Many of the workers would have lived on nearby streets…Frances, Margaret, Ethel, Eva, Charlotte and Dorinda. This building is now home to the Elgin Middlesex Victorian Order of Nurses. Wow..this building has a real feminine mystique.

  4. Cutting one's coat to fit the clothe says:

    ~~Cindy Hartman interestingly observes -
    “Let’s not forget the old Supersilk Hoisery Mill that was located on
    Florence St near Eleanor St ( how very feminine sounding). Many
    of the workers would have lived on nearby streets. Frances,
    Margaret, Ethel, Eva, Charlotte and Dorinda. This building is now
    home to the Elgin Middlesex Victorian Order of Nurses. Wow.
    .this building has a real feminine mystique…”
    But “hose” was manufactured for all members of the family, male
    and female, as a search for old ad images show. Charlotte and
    Dorinda were of the A.S. Abbott family, he apparently having
    done a survey of the area (source Miss Porte)

  5. Cutting one's coat to fit the cloth says:

    c l o t h .

  6. Morgan Silva says:

    They also have a Hosiery World section that touches briefly on the history of hosiery, how to put on tights, how to care for your hosiery, figuring out sizing for the various types, etc. Rather nice of them to provide this information, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve not found any other hosiery company that has taken the time to do it, only tips on wear and caring but usually quite brief. Thank you, Filodoro!

  7. Nice to know some good facts about hosiery and tights. Comments are also really good and informative. Thank you.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Hi everyone! Wow, so many of you have written since I was last here. Thank you for all of your information. I have now uploaded my publication here http://issuu.com/jenniferlorrainefraser/docs/womenfreedomandhosiery/1. This story is one that is barely uncovered, So excited to continue my research later on. If you are in London, hope to say hello at the opening on Saturday, 2-5. and to James Reaney, You are a star. Thank you for everything that you do in London. We are so fortunate to have you here.

    Jennifer

  9. james.reaney says:

    Wow … congratulations Jennifer. Holeproof rawks!

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