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Women in Work: Lisa Unger Baskin’s Collection


Virginia Woolf’s writing desk
Photo: Annie Schlecter

Collector, bookseller and activist Lisa Unger Baskin amassed a vast collection of books, printed material and other objects dedicated to showing women in work over the centuries.

It features more than 11,000 rare books, and thousands of manuscripts, journals, ephemera, and artifacts, including Virginia Woolf’s writing desk.

In 2015, Lisa placed her collection with Duke University’s Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture in the Rubenstein Library.

From December 11 until February 8 2020, highlights from Lisa’s collection are being featured in an exhibition at the Grolier Club in Manhattan.  The Grolier is society for bibliophiles founded in 1884.

The Grolier exhibition, Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, will provide a glimpse into this collector’s mission to uncover and recognize the contribution of women in work. Visitors will see items from a collection that took 45 years to build.

In our podcast interview, Lisa describes how she put the collection together, why she decided to place the collection with Duke, and how humble objects can shed light on the role of women in work and society.

A cabinet card sold by Sojourner Truth to support her work, 1864
Photo: Duke/Rubenstein Library
First book on obstetrics by a woman, French midwife Louise Bourgeois, 1642 Photo: Duke/Rubenstein Library
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