Penn Libraries Showcases Intrepid Women Who Made Their Mark 

caption: Rodeo Poster, Milwaukee, 1905Visitors to the exhibit OK, I’ll Do It Myself: Narratives of Intrepid Women in the American Wilderness will be greeted by items illustrating the experiences of intelligent, exuberant and indomitable women navigators of the North and South American wilderness. Items in this monumental exhibit, spanning five centuries, are on display at the Penn Libraries thanks to the generosity and exceptional collecting prowess of Caroline Schimmel, CW’67. 

“I fell in love with Caroline Schimmel’s collection the instant I opened the first box of her 2014 gift of fiction to the Penn Libraries,” said Regan Kladstrup, director of special collections processing in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Penn Libraries. “Getting to know Caroline and, later, seeing her astounding non-fiction collection of books, manuscripts and art by and about women in the American wilderness only deepened my appreciation.” 

The product of 45 years of collecting and research, Caroline Schimmel’s exhibition OK, I’ll Do It Myself includes 145 books, photographs, manuscripts and memorabilia ranging from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, German-born naturalist and illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian’s monumental 1705 study of the flora and fauna of Surinam, to sharpshooter and entertainer Annie Oakley’s travel trunk and gloves. 

caption: Annie Oakley, London 1891“For anyone working on larger issues around women and settlement, Caroline Schimmel’s collection is an invaluable resource. Researchers don’t always know exactly what they’re looking for, or what they will find,” said Lynne Farrington, senior curator, Special Collections. “As an academic, you may think you’re going down one path only to make discoveries within collections that change the course of your research, setting you off down other, and often more interesting, paths. That’s what great collections do—they provide you with opportunities to make important discoveries.” 

OK, I’ll Do It Myself spans the entirety of the Kamin and Goldstein Family galleries as well as spaces on the fifth and sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. The public is invited to explore this exhibit, free of charge, now through November 11. The exhibit will be open for extended hours on the evening of Thursday, October 4, in conjunction with the Annenberg Center performance of Zora Returns to Harlem, a one-woman show, performed by Antoniá Badón, about the life of acclaimed novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. See

For information on the exhibit visit: 

Photographs Courtesy of Caroline F. Schimmel Collection of Women in the American Wilderness