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Most of the photographs and collectibles we find that relate to strength are of men. There are however a few 19th and early 20th century items that show women performing feats of strength or as bodybuilders.

Sandow Magazine in the early 1900s, published articles that were most often about developing the male physique but from time to time featured articles about athletic women and even children and babies. Above is an illustration from an article on the strongwoman called Vulcana. She was reported to be the sister of Atlas, a strongman of the day.

The excuse to show women in what would have been considered skimpy dress might account for some of the interest in the woman athletes.

This undated postcard shows Louise Leers, a lady with a very well developed back.

"Star of Vaudeville At Orpheum CHARMION" read the three buttons above. The buttons were made by Hyatt Mfg Co. of Baltimore, Maryland. Since we put them on the web site we have received a e-mail from a descendant of Laverie (nee Cooper) Vallee, AKA Charmion. The Hull Family web site will open in another window.

Exercise and fitness books of the 19th and early 20th centuries were slanted to a male audience but many included at least a token discussion of exercise for the ladies. They often insisted that the aim was not to make them muscular but rather healthier and more "natural" in posture. The illustration below is from an 1866 book The Indian Club Exercise.


The postcard below is postmarked 1907 and was send by Lizzy from Flushing to her sister in Brooklyn. Lizzy comment that the woman reminds her of Mrs. Stein in her uniform. An enlarged image and text is shown under the postcard.


The postcard below has a 1905 date and as can be seen in the text, made sport of "The Athletic Lass" of the day. This card is in the spirit of the "insult valentines" that were popular at the time.

We have found vintage valentines a source for amusing depictions of strong men. On the left is the only one we found with a female weight lifter. This "stronggirl" valentine with two puns on "weight" and one on "lift" was a fun find

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**NOTE** All items on the Collection of Collections web site are in our private collection and are NOT for sale. From time to time duplicate items from our collection will be offered for sale in the Do You Remember This? shop on the GoAntiques cyber mall. Visit the Do You Remember This? inventory page for photographica and toaster related collectibles.

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Updated on 4/2007