The Cyclist's Mobility: Lady Cyclists, Wheelmen of Color, and the Bicycle Boom of the 1890s with Christine Bachman-Sanders

  • The Vault The Vault Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 519 Oak St. Minneapolis, MN

In the last decade of the 19th century, the bicycle craze, championing the new democratizing technology of the bicycle and the moral mobility it promised, entered the social and political landscape of the 1890s as both a potential facilitator and threat to racism and sexism. This talk will focus on one piece of this larger social and political movement, revealing the ways that the bicycle boom interacted with wheelmen of color. Presenter Christine Bachman-Sanders will present a brief overview of the bicycle craze and its relationship to the “new woman.” She’ll follow with an examination of discourses of health and morality, an analysis of the ways in which regulatory actions surrounding the appropriate use of the bicycle attempted to maintain gender, race, and class boundaries, and then examine a series of events and reactions to the color bar instituted in 1894 by the League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W.). Bachman-Sanders will suggest that the bicycle functioned as a political and social tool of upward mobility for cyclists of color. Christine Bachman-Sanders is working toward a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  Her dissertation research examines the relationship between the "new woman," American imperialism, and bicycle tourism in the 1890s.

Christine Bachman-Sanders is working toward a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  Her dissertation research examines the relationship between the "new woman," American imperialism, and bicycle tourism in the 1890s. She is particularly concerned with how late 19th-century bicycle tourism depends upon classed, sexed, and racialized associations with leisure. In general, Christine’s research interests are focused on feminist and queer studies, race, class, gender, and sexuality, and studies of empire.  When not researching bicycles, she is riding them; in 2013, she cycled across the United States, and in 2015, she cycled through the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark.

After the talk, join us in The Vault to view our collection and connect with fellow cycling enthusiasts. The Vault and talks are at Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, 519 Oak St., Minneapolis. Enter via the blue "Welcome" awning on the east side of the church. Free parking available by the entrance. Light refreshments will be available after the talk. 

Questions? E-mail us at info@cmm.bike.