Women Making History

The Revolutionary Feminist Postcard Art of Helaine Victoria Press

Subjects: History, Women
Imprint: Lever Press
Ebook : 9781643150369, 480 pages, 100 color pages, 6 x 9, October 2023
Paperback : 9781643150352, 480 pages, 100 color pages, 6 x 9, October 2023
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A richly-illustrated narrative of two young women who learned to print, established a letterpress print shop, and published the first women’s history postcards


Nourished by the cultural exuberance of second wave feminism, Helaine Victoria Press was a home-grown effort of two young women, Jocelyn Cohen and Nancy Poore, who learned how to print, established a printshop, and became the first publishers of women’s history postcards. The authors of Women Making History demonstrate that by creating postcards, Helaine Victoria Press aimed to do more than provide a convenient writing surface or even affect collective memory. Instead, they argue, the press generated feminist memory. The cards, each with the picture of a woman or group of women from history, were multimodal. Pictures were framed in colors and borders appropriate to the era and subject. Lengthy captions offered details about the lives of the women pictured. Unlike other memorials, the cards were mobile: they traveled through the postal system, viewed along the way by the purchasers, mail sorters, mail carriers, and recipients. Upon arriving at their destinations, cards were often posted on office bulletin boards or refrigerators at home, where surroundings shaped their meanings.
This is the first book to demonstrate the relationships between the feminist art movement, the women in print movement, and the scholars studying women’s history. Readers will be drawn to both the large quantity of illustrative materials and the theoretical framework of the book, as it provides an expanded understanding of rhetorical multimodality.

Julia M. Allen is professor emerita of English at Sonoma State University. 

Jocelyn H. Cohen is an artist, arborist and co-founder of Helaine Victoria Press, Inc.