PRESENTATION TITLE: More Trouble Than a Horde of Elephants: How Women Broke the Boundaries of Exploration

DESCRIPTION: Adventure and exploration were not easy realms for women in the early twentieth century. A woman in the wild was a suspicious thing. In the words of an elite explorer of the day (who preferred anonymity when interviewed for a newspaper): “One woman can cause more trouble on an exploring expedition…than a whole horde of elephants, a tribe of wild and blood-thirsty savages, or a dozen lions and tigers ready for food.” Yet many women were in the wilderness–as companions to their explorer husbands–and proved that women were the very backbone of such expeditions. While women like Osa Johnson found the road to adventure through marriage and through their work proved the anonymous explorer wrong, a few, like Delia Akeley, earned support for independent expeditions without traveling in the shadow of a male companion. This talk explores the early-twentieth-century dynamic of women on expeditions, their portrayal in popular culture, and the groundbreaking work of women who began to go it alone.