Presenter Information

Emmett BallFollow

Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Anya Jabour

Faculty Mentor’s Department

History

Abstract

Kim Williams was a renowned writer and naturalist living and working in Missoula, Montana in the 1970s and 80s. She gained national recognition for her regular guest appearances on National Public Radio’s program “All Things Considered,” where she offered home-spun lessons on frugality, naturalism, and happiness through simplicity. Williams’s professionalization of domesticity was the culmination of a lifelong battle in an attempt to reconcile her own personal conception of femininity against her conflicting aspirations for a professional career and a familial, domestic life. There is little scholarship analyzing Williams’s personal life, and no known scholarship has attempted to condense her life into an analytical biography. This paper has consulted Williams’s personal writings through three distinct periods of her life: working in the advertising field in Los Angeles, living as a domestic housewife in Santiago, Chile, and living in Missoula, Montana when she worked as a media personality and educator. These writings are found in the larger collection of the Kim Williams Papers, housed in the University of Montana’s Archives and Special Collections. Using her own words, the paper outlines Williams’s ongoing crisis of identity as she lives different lifestyles, attempting to balance social expectations with personal aspirations. Her eventual arrival at a personalized blend of media personality and Home Economics educator was an amalgamation of the conflicting interests in her life of domesticity and professionalism, a reflection of the conflict many women faced in the era of second-wave feminism.

Category

Humanities

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Kim Williams: Professionalizing Domesticity in Montana and Abroad

Kim Williams was a renowned writer and naturalist living and working in Missoula, Montana in the 1970s and 80s. She gained national recognition for her regular guest appearances on National Public Radio’s program “All Things Considered,” where she offered home-spun lessons on frugality, naturalism, and happiness through simplicity. Williams’s professionalization of domesticity was the culmination of a lifelong battle in an attempt to reconcile her own personal conception of femininity against her conflicting aspirations for a professional career and a familial, domestic life. There is little scholarship analyzing Williams’s personal life, and no known scholarship has attempted to condense her life into an analytical biography. This paper has consulted Williams’s personal writings through three distinct periods of her life: working in the advertising field in Los Angeles, living as a domestic housewife in Santiago, Chile, and living in Missoula, Montana when she worked as a media personality and educator. These writings are found in the larger collection of the Kim Williams Papers, housed in the University of Montana’s Archives and Special Collections. Using her own words, the paper outlines Williams’s ongoing crisis of identity as she lives different lifestyles, attempting to balance social expectations with personal aspirations. Her eventual arrival at a personalized blend of media personality and Home Economics educator was an amalgamation of the conflicting interests in her life of domesticity and professionalism, a reflection of the conflict many women faced in the era of second-wave feminism.