This paper discusses the study of Ottoman dynastic history through women’s writings, such as harem women’s personal letter correspondence, women’s harem memoirs and recollections, and foreign women travelers’ accounts, published in popular historical magazines in Turkey during the 1950s and 60s. The paper also considers the popular nature of the publications that featured these writings and their significance in the framework of the changing nationalist discourse and corresponding changes in Turkish historiography during the 1950s. It shows that articles based on women’s writings revealed intimate aspects of the Ottoman elite’s relationships in general and of Ottoman women in particular, and suggests that their publication in popular magazines played an important role in re-imagining the Turkish woman in the framework of the post-Kemalist nationalist discourse. It concludes that women’s writings, used as primary sources by Turkish historians, provided an insider’s point of view on the secretive life of the harem and its inhabitants and attracted a popular readership, thus exposing wider audiences to an Ottoman-centered historical discourse, and ultimately played an important role in the writing of Ottoman women’s history.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.