Kimberly Hamlin

Jim Calder

Kimberly Hamlin, speakers bureau

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.

“Let Ohio Women Vote” Documentary Film Discussion

Professor Hamlin served as the historical consultant for the CET/Think-TV documentary “Let Ohio Women Vote” and is available for screenings and/or discussions of the 60-minute film, produced by Ann Rotolante. “Let Ohio Women Vote” chronicles the role of Ohio women in securing the vote — from Frances Wright, who in 1828 became the first woman to speak in public in Cincinnati, to Oberlin graduate Mary Church Terrell who became the founding president of the National Association of Colored Women in 1890 — and highlights Ohio’s important role in women’s activism. The film points out the vital links between abolition and women’s rights and connects the story of the 19th Amendment to ongoing debates about voting rights and voter access. Viewers will be encouraged to think about what issues propelled women into activism, the role of race/racism in securing women’s right to vote, and the connections between women’s personal and political lives.

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

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.

Race, Racism, and the U.S. Women’s Movement: From Seneca Falls to the 2017 Women’s March

The 19th-century women’s rights movement had close ties with abolitionism, and the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s grew out of the Civil Rights movement. Yet, mainstream women’s rights movements have often been critiqued for prioritizing the needs of white women over those of women of color, and white leaders have often been blind to issues of race and racism.  These historical debates and fissures came to a head during the planning of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.  Who speaks for American women? What issues unite American women?  This presentation provides a historical overview of the role of race and racism in the U.S. women’s rights movement, highlighting key issues, rifts, and cooperative efforts from the 1830s to today.

Are Women People? A History of the Equal Rights Amendment

First proposed in 1923 as a follow-up to the 19th Amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment has prompted heated debates about American womanhood for nearly 100 years. Are women people first, or mothers? Are women fundamentally equal to men, or fundamentally different from men? What would it look like for women to be both equal and different? This talk analyzes the evolution of ERA debates, highlights the fascinating women who devoted their lives to working for and against the ERA– including Alice Paul and Phyllis Schlafly– and brings the debate up to the present with the post-2016 resurgence of the ERA.


Kimberly Hamlin

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