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Ideas about gender were integral to the anxieties experienced by nineteenth century America. In response to the changing times, women were becoming more publicly outspoken, a realm of action traditionally occupied by men. Perhaps the organizers of the fair, in an attempt to alleviate fears about gender, created a Woman's Building to display women's accomplishments separately from the more important inventions of men. The Woman's Building, designed by a female architect, was described by contemporaries as being "gracefully timid, genteel, womanly, peaceable and chaste." These descriptions were meant to undermine the revolutionary potential of the building and the activities it housed; however, inside the Woman's Building, women used their separate space to address real issues.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies