May Talk: Niagara Historical Society & Museum


Join us on Thursday 19 May at the Niagara Historical Society & Museum for a talk on “Buying Beauty in the Nineteenth Century.”

The annual lecture series is held on the 3rd Thursday of each month from March to September. Lectures start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for the general public or free for Niagara Historical Society Members.

Reservations required as seating is limited.



In Pursuit of Beauty, Bodleian Libraries

In spring 2015, I had the honour of being a visiting fellow at the Bodleian Libraries  via the Royal Bank of Canada Foundation. As part of the fellowship, I had the opportunity to curate an exhibition in the Bodleian Proscholium, “Beauty poster A2In Pursuit of Beauty: modern guides to the hair, face, and body, 1784-1933.”

The display showcased the Bodleian’s rich collection of beauty guides, supplemented by advertisements and artefacts from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera.

For more information, see the two BODcasts produced in support of the exhibition, “In Pursuit of Beauty,” and “Beauty and the Victorians.”

American Historical Association 2013 Grants

ImageOn July 16, the American Historical Association announced its 2013 grant recipients, and I’m delighted to have been awarded a Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant for research in the history of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The grant will be used for an upcoming research trip to Delhi and Canberra for my new project, Imperial Beauty: the global trade in appearance, 1830-1930.

Many thanks to the AHA for this wonderful honor!

New Article in Women’s History Review

(1899, Feb. 16) A Chat with Mrs. Pomeroy, Hearth and Home XVI.405, p. 589. Courtesy of the British Library, © The British Library Board (351) and Lafayette Photography.
“A Chat with Mrs. Pomeroy,” Hearth and Home XVI.405 (16 February 1899): 589. Courtesy of the British Library, © The British Library Board (351) and Lafayette Photography.

Women’s History Review has published my latest article, “Pomeroy v. Pomeroy: beauty, modernity, and the female entrepreneur in fin-de-siècle London.” 

 The article charts American Jeannette Scalé’s extraordinary transformation into “Mrs. Pomeroy,” London’s leading complexion specialist at the end of the nineteenth century. As the fictional personality “Mrs. Pomeroy,” Scalé dominated the elite beauty market as London’s de facto “authority on the subject of the complexion and of the art of beauty in general.” At 29 Old Bond Street, “Mrs. Pomeroy” sold “hygienic complexion treatments,” a personal line of toilet preparations including Pomeroy Complexion Purifier and Pomeroy Astringent Tonic Lotion. “Mrs. Pomeroy” was also one of the first in London to offer electrolysis(!), and she was reportedly adept at the removal of “superfluous hair, moles, birth marks.” At the height of her success, “Mrs. Pomeroy” saw a turnover of £21,000 a year (approximately  £1.2 million today) and employed eighty female assistants.

Jeannette Scalé/Pomeroy’s story doesn’t have a happy ending. It does, however, reveal businesswomen’s changing opportunities in England’s retail market, opportunities engendered through new systems of advertising, growing anonymity in the expanding urban scene, and novel forms of self-representation that did not necessarily impinge upon businesswomen’s respectability.

You can find the WHR link here or contact me for access to the full text.

Crime and the Victorian City, 2012

rippervic-wlIn January 2012, I had the privilege of teaching a winter Intersession course at the Johns Hopkins University, “Crime and the Victorian City.” For the final project, students relied on resources at JHU’s Sheridan Libraries, including The Old Bailey Online and 19th Century British Library Newspapers.

In March 2012, Chella Vaidyanathan, JHU’s Liaison Librarian for History, put together this wonderful write-up about the course for the Sheridan Libraries Blog. It was a joy to teach, in many ways thanks to Chella’s assistance through the year.