Historical Marker - The Gibson Girl
This historical marker depicts the childhood home of Irene Langhorne Gibson, who became the model for artist Charles Dana Gibson's iconic "New Woman" of the turn-of-the-century. The popularity of the image was such that the "Gibson Girl" could be seen throughout the period in magazines, newspapers, and on merchandise. The house was built in 1874 but later moved to 117 Broad Street. Irene married artist Charles Dana Gibson in 1895. The artist created many different "Gibson Girl' illustrations over his career, incorporating some of the alluring traits he found in his wife in creating the ideal "New Woman" of the turn-of-the-century.
Backstory and Context
In the 1890s artist Charles Gibson created new female caricatures for his cartoons showing life at the turn of the century. These female characters are known as the "Gibson Girl," a phrase that recognizes how the artist's depiction of young adult women were more self-assured, independent, and free to express themselves than American women in the past. These women represented an artist's vision of what contemporary Americans described as the “New Woman." Gibson's drawing became so popular that they were featured on wallpaper, merchandise, magazines, and other products. The popularity of the Gibson Girl demonstrates that Americans from the 1890s to the 1920s were not only aware of the greater mobility afforded women during this time period, but celebrated the "New Woman" as both independent and feminine-two qualities that had been seen as incompatible in the past.
The Gibson Girl as the “New Woman”. Library of Congress. Accessed May 15, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gibson-girls-america/the-gibson-girl-as-the-new-woman.html.