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Helen Hamilton Gardener and the Secret History of Women’s Suffrage in America

March 14 @ 4:00 pm 5:00 pm

Come visit the South Dayton Church of Christ with the Springboro Area Historical Society for an Ohio Humanities Speakers’ Bureau event with Kimberly Hamlin!

This talk reveals the remarkable story of the “fallen woman” who became the “most potent factor” in Congressional passage of the 19th Amendment and the highest-ranking woman in federal government. After being outed in Ohio newspapers for having an affair with a married man, Alice Chenoweth moved to New York City, changed her name to Helen Hamilton Gardener, and became one of the century’s most famous reformers. In 1910, she settled in Washington, D.C. right next to the Speaker of the House. Next, she charmed her way into the Wilson White House and steered the 19 th Amendment through Congress. The year 2020 marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, and this presentation tells the larger story of the suffrage movement through the eyes of one of its most fascinating advocates.

Kimberly A. Hamlin is a historian specializing in women, gender, sex, science, and politics. A recent recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Public Scholar Award, Hamlin regularly contributes to the Washington Post and other media outlets, and she lectures widely on topics related to women and gender. Her latest book, Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener (2020), reveals the remarkable story of the “fallen woman” who changed her name, reinvented herself, and became the “most potent factor” in Congressional passage of the 19th Amendment as well as the highest-ranking woman in federal government. Hamlin is actively involved in local and national suffrage centennial activities including guest editing, together with Cathleen Cahill and Crystal Feimster, a special suffrage centennial issue of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Hamlin’s previous book, From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women’s Rights in Gilded Age America (2014), analyzes the U.S. reception of Darwin in terms of gender and provides the first full-length study of women’s responses to evolutionary theory. Hamlin has received the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women and Politics, the Margaret Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize (from the History of Science Society), and the Emerging Scholar Award from the Nineteenth Century Studies Association, in addition to research fellowships from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, the Huntington Library, the Sophia Smith Collection, and others. Hamlin has also published on the origins of the Miss America Pageant, the Girl Scouts, bearded ladies, women running for president, and the Equal Rights Amendment. She has appeared on various public radio shows on both NPR and CBC and contributed to multiple PBS documentaries. Since 2007, she has taught History and American Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She lives in Cincinnati where she co-hosts the Mercantile Library’s Allgood-McLean “Women You Should Know” Book Discussion Series. For more information, please visit or follow her on Twitter @ProfessorHamlin.

Curious about our Speakers Bureau? Check out speakers and topics here.

Want to see other Ohio Humanities events? Check out our calendar!

Springboro Area Historical Society


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South Dayton Church of Christ

300 S. Main St.
Springboro, Ohio 45066 United States
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541 West Rich Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Office: 614.461.7802