Friday, March 29, 2019

Women's History Month 2019: A Red Book

Hathi Trust

As I was coming up with the list of directories I wanted to talk about this month, there was one directory I knew I wanted to feature, I knew where it was located online, but I couldn't remember what it was called.

Lucky for me, describing what the directory looked like, "red directory" yielded the right result.

The Ladies' Directory. Red Book for Shanghai for 1916-1921 is available on Hathi Trust . It's a directory for and of British women living in China. 

According to the bookseller Antipodean, it was compiled by the North China Herald. In the 1870 copy they sold it contained, ..." translations of colloquial phrases; translations of roads in the English settlements and in "Hong-Que"; listings of the women's' names, beginning with Mrs. T. Allen and ending with Miss Yates (at the French Concession); advertising for storekeepers; a table listing market prices for foodstuffs; and "Visiting Notes" with each month listed with blanks for visits made and visits received."

The 1916 version has pretty much the same content. This directory of British women includes both married women and their daughters but in some cases the woman is listed by her husband's  name (Mrs. John Smith) or if a daughter, simply Miss Smith. 

Hathi Trust

A great directory of women that could be followed up with using other records like their husband's occupation, membership records, and travel records. Other sources might also exist such as a cookbook. I know that in my cookbook collection I have a community cookbook whose recipes come from American women living in an Asian country because of their husband's work. 

Don't forget that sometimes our temporary circumstances might also be the catalyst for the creation of a directory. 

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