Women's roles videos

The Women's roles videos collection contains digitized silent film reels, which portray women in various domestic and working roles. Each film is accompanied by a description created by students in the Fall 2017 session of Women's Studies 101 as part of a class project to make the films more accessible.


Breithaupt family at Georgian Bay and at home
Breithaupt family at Georgian Bay and at home
(0:09-0:18) Scene is set with hills and a large body of water in the background while in the foreground three children play in the sand. (0:19- 0:33) A fourth child wearing a bonnet wobbles into the scene. They are carrying a bonnet that they attempt to place on the head of another child who fusses in response. (0:34-0:48) The eldest child stands up with a drawstring bag in hand. They walk off camera as another child comes into view while watching debris moving in the wind before sitting down in the sand next to the other children. (0:49-0:50) Film cuts and all five children are seen playing at the same beach location – the older three are seated at right and the younger two are standing at left. (0:51-1:09) The eldest children dig in the sand with sticks and their hands while the other children toddle around. (1:10-1:15) Film cuts to a winter scene in a residential neighbourhood with snow covered houses and trees visible in the background. Two adults dressed in fur coats, standing on either side of a child in a stroller while gesturing and smiling at the camera, tend to other children moving about on and off camera. (1:16-1:35) A third adult also dressed in a fur coat and pushing a stroller approaches in the background through a gate and joins the group. (1:36-1:46) Film cuts to a view of the same group from a slightly different angel. The group continues to smile and gesture at the camera while talking amongst themselves. (1:47-2:00) Film cuts to a view of the same group from yet another angel. An infant in a stroller is pushed back and forth as the adults and children stomp around in the snow while smiling to each other and the camera. (2:01-2:05) One of the older children begins picking up and throwing snow. The film jumps momentarily as the camera appears to be hit by snow. (2:06-2:34) Group continues playing with and tossing snow. A child in a sleigh is pulled into view, next to the infant in the stroller. The group poses for the camera and the film ends. (2:35) Screen changes to a black background with a circular icon of a rooster on a podium. It reads “Trade Mark Pathex”. [Description adapted from work completed by Fall 2017 Women's Studies 101 students.]
Breithaupt family at River Bend and Temiskaming
Breithaupt family at River Bend and Temiskaming
(0:09-0:25 seconds) Four individuals dressed for cold weather are standing in front of a snowy cottage. As they disperse a woman in a bowler hat walks off camera to the left. A man in an aviator cap and a young woman in a dark vest unload luggage from the car and head towards the cottage behind them. A smiling woman in a pom pom hat looks ahead and veers off to the right. (0:26-0:35 seconds) The scene changes to a male on skis as he veers to the left. There’s a man in a knit sweater, who is pulling a rope out of a car, and a woman in a long coat who is carrying a camera. She veers off camera to the right. (00:36- 1:04) In a barren wood, an older woman wearing a cloche hat offers an older man in a newsboy cap a spoon full of a substance, possibly maple syrup. An older woman enters the frame from the left and joins them. The man has a taste and gives a curt shrug. The woman to his left eagerly reaches out for the spoon. With a nod she backs up and makes way for the woman on her left. This spectacled woman, bows down and has a helping. The spoon baring woman offers her another helping, she shakes her head but then accepts the offer. The spoon baring woman gives herself a final taste. (1:05 - 1:10) The scene changes to the woman in glasses. She is standing in a wooded area. She walks a few paces to the left. She looks down and then looks straight ahead. [Description adapted from work completed by Fall 2017 Women's Studies 101 students.]
Breithaupt family in Florida
Breithaupt family in Florida
(00:03) Three children are playing in the water at the beach. One boy, two girls. All have cropped hair. (00:04) The young boy wades further into the water as both of the girls splash around. (00:10) A group of adults and one small child stand on the beach. They watch the children play. (00:13) Two of the adults, a man dressed in a dark suit and a woman in a white dress, walk along the beach. (00:19) Five children are splashing around in the water. (00:21) A girl with a swimming cap on her head swims and smiles. (00:24) A child walks into the water from the beach. (00:33) The group of children walk around in the shallow tide. They begin splashing each other. (00:40) The girl with the swimming cap waves beside another child. (00:47) As the children frolic in the waves, the adults on the beach walk around. (00:55) A young boy looks up and comes toward the camera. (01:01) An woman and two children are in the water. She picks up the youngest child. (01:07) The screen changes to a black background with a circular icon of a rooster on a podium. “Trade Mark Pathex”. [Description adapted from work completed by Fall 2017 Women's Studies 101 students.]
R. Forbes & Co. Ltd. film
R. Forbes & Co. Ltd. film
(00:11) Black and white film begins. A wide three floor industrial building with multiple windows on each floor that stretches from the beginning of the street to the other end is shown from the outside. There are two World War I era automobiles parked outside the building and there is a water tower on the roof of the building. (00:37) Six residential brick houses houses are shown. Each has a staircases leading to the door. The visible trees are bare suggesting an autumn scene. (01:02) A slim white woman with shoulder length brown hair who appears to be in her twenties and is wearing a dress points at the sign of the industrial building seen previously. (01:04) The sign reads “1866 Office of the R.Forbes Co. Limited Hespeler.” (01:10) Inside of R.Forbes Co. is a very dimly lit workplace. Multiple Caucasian women are seen sitting in desks of two. They are wearing white dresses and are stitching white cloth sheets. (01:37) The overview of the R.Forbes Co. workplace is dark and appears to be a clothing mill, there are workers walking around and while others work at desks. (01:41) Back outside on the left side of the R.Forbes Co. building, multiple white women wearing fur coats and vintage winter hats are seen exiting the building. Two men also wearing winter apparel are seen among them. (01:58) On the right side of the building dozens of men and women ranging from their teens to their fifties are seen exiting the building in winter apparel, some are walking and conversing with their coworkers while others are biking or running out. (03:11) Workers of R.Forbes Co have flood the streets and are walking on the road and some are even walking on the railway. (03:16) Two World War I era automobiles exit from the right side of R. Forbes Co. once the workers have moved out of the way. (03:27) A white woman who is wearing winter apparel and appears to be in her early twenties is seen walking up the stairs of a residential house. She then stands outside of the building and smiles while facing the camera. (03:44) Another young white women wearing a thick sweater is seen posing outside of another house and is smiling at the camera. (03:50) The film ends. [Description adapted from work completed by Fall 2017 Women's Studies 101 students.]