How are we different – and similar – to girls who lived decades or centuries ago?  What can the artifacts that girls left behind tell us about our present and future?

At Girl Museum, we aim to find out.

Realizing that many “history of the world” programs routinely left out the stories of young girls, we scoured the globe for objects that would bring to light girls’ daily lives, struggles, and heroism.  Each week in 2017, we’ll add a new story about an object integral to understanding the history and current culture of girlhood. The result is 52 Objects in the History of Girls, which showcase their incredible lives, the issues they faced, and what it says about being a girl.

For a sneak peek at the amazing stories awaiting you, listen to our introductory podcast below:

Teachers & Students
Want to infuse your classroom with critical thinking and a passion for the mysteries of history?  

Check out our Educational Guide for fun activities aligned to US and UK educational standards. You can also download fun Coloring Pages featuring objects from this exhibition!

Credits
This exhibit was inspired by our personal passions and the podcast series, A History of the World in 100 Objects. It was produced and written by the senior team at Girl Museum, including Hillary Hanel, Tiffany Rhoades, and Katie Weidmann.  Images were created by Erina Shiflett.

Where in the World is…?

Want to know where these 52 objects come from? Or find ones in or near your country? Check out our map documenting the locations of our 52 objects.

Now, journey with us to explore the history of girls…

as told in 52 amazing objects.

Ankle Bracelet

  It's pretty, this little bracelet. Looks like many bangles I see young girls wearing. Would you want to wear it? You only have to sign away your life. This ankle bracelet was worn by a girl slave in Niger. And she lived within your lifetime. Originally collected by...

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Ana Sandoval

  Can you imagine being in high school and discovering that a mining company is coming to destroy your home? That's what happened to Ana Sandoval, a young land rights defender in Guatemala, who dared to stand up and protect her community. As a teenager, Ana co-founded...

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Ladd Girl

  She seems so happy. Both of them do, actually. They look like any two schoolgirls, having a laugh in the hallway. But that's not just any school. The young girl in this photograph was a member of the Ladd School for the Retarded in the 1980s. She was mentally...

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Girl’s Circumcision Headdress

  This headdress was worn by a Maasai girl less than fifty years ago. Native to southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, the Maasai are a semi-nomadic people, known for living alongside animals and an aversion to eating game and birds. Because of their lifestyle, East...

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Girl of Beads: Ndebele Doll

  We like to think of dolls as soft and cuddly, even the plastic ones are meant to be "cute". These are constructed, typically by male designers, and marketed to girls to teach them what and how they should behave. This sounds a bit extreme, but bear with me. Dolls...

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Pants for Protest

  For centuries, it was a taboo for European and American girls and women to wear pants, until the 1970s. Crocheting, knitting, sewing: the art of crafting your own clothes goes back ages and was very common during most of the 20th century. Most girls learned about...

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Shards of Stained Glass

  These pieces of stained glass are so small, you would think that their story was just as small. But it isn't. It started like any other day. September 15, 1963, dawned clear and bright on the town of Birmingham, Alabama. A racially divided town known for violent...

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Molly Grows Up, and other awkward discussions of puberty

  Do you know why women menstruate? Do you know what the word menstruation means? If your primary source of sex education came from American "educational" films from the 1940s-1960s, you probably have only a vague idea about most things related to sex and puberty....

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Liberated Lesbians: Ruth Mountaingrove

  Look at her. I wonder if she's smiling behind the camera. If she burst out laughing with her companion after they snapped photos of one another. I wonder what her name is, and whether this was where she called her true home. She was probably a lesbian. Though we...

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Rucksack to Freedom

  Despite seeing images all over the news of refugee children, it is still very hard for us imagine what it would be like to have to leave your home, your family, your country. To get on a train or a boat, not knowing where you are going but suspecting that you may...

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BDM Girls

  Before it became law in 1939, there were tens of thousands of girls signed up to the Hitler Youth organisations. The League of German Girls (Bund Deutscher Mädel [BDM]) was the female section of the Hitler Youth founded in 1930. The purpose of BDM was to...

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