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Women Cyclist and Social Change

Watkins Museum’s Curator and Collections Manager, Brittany Keegan, shared her research on the early days of women cyclists. The role of women in American society was undergoing significant change in the 19th century. So it was no surprise that the development of the bicycle in the 1890’s would interest women. Not everyone was a fan of the new devise as there were dire warnings that cycling was a dangerous distraction and the new machines scared horses. When women began to ride, many critics were horrified. They complained about the fashions that cycling inspired and worried about unchaperoned behavior. The benefits of healthy exercise and the positive environmental impact were recognized and cycling became and important part of our culture for both sexes. Brittany Keegan earned a BA in American History and a Masters in Museum Studies at Kansas University. She is currently working on a new World War I exhibit.