Speakers

Rebekah Brown

Rebekah Brown

Quarantine on the Frontier: The Ohio Company of Associates and Medical Practice, 1786-1794

After the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the newborn United States government held the long-coveted prize known as the Northwest Territory. Soon, a group of Revolutionary War veterans and New England settlers formed the Ohio Company of Associates and established a town called Marietta along the Muskingum River. When a man named Welch arrived in 1790, he brought smallpox with him and sparked the settlement’s first public health crisis. This talk explores how eighteenth-century Ohioans faced repeated smallpox epidemics alongside political, military, and economic crises until New England doctors introduced variolation. The pressures of quarantine and group spread resonate with today’s public health crisis.

Fragile Unity: Urban and Rural Reformers After Suffrage

What challenges did Ohio reformers face after the vote was won? How did the women of the suffrage movement forge a path forward once their main goal had been achieved? This talk explores how the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association (OWSA) transformed itself into the Ohio League of Women Voters to meet the challenges of a post-suffrage era. Though we tend to see the women’s movement as ending successfully with the age of parades in white dresses, the 1920s and 30s presented major obstacles for reforming women who wanted to keep the momentum going. Inter-organizational competition and misunderstandings, partisan competition for female voters, and sharp divisions surrounding individual and group identity were major obstacles confronting post-suffrage reformers. This talk traces the Ohio women’s movement from its 19th-century roots through its little-known but vibrant period after suffrage. It suggests that many of the concerns that united women reformers at the beginning of the twentieth century still resonate today.

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