Woman Suffrage Headquarters vintage photo

With the second half of 2020 upon us and so many programs scheduled for spring, summer, and now fall cancelled, we wanted to work with some of our Ohio Humanities speakers and scholars to collaborate and plan an engaging event that commemorates a significant anniversary in the history of women’s suffrage. This year marks 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting American women the right to vote after a long and complicated movement. The 1920 benchmark decision did not end in celebration for so many women, specifically women of color. And although it signified progress and the expansion of a core democratic right—the vote—it is only part of the story. 

Ohio Humanities has created a virtual Women’s Suffrage Speakers Series featuring six scholars who have dedicated their work to exposing these lesser known stories and furthering the understanding of their significance in history. Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. beginning July 14 through August 18, you can take part in a virtual program that includes a talk from a new scholar who will help deepen our awareness of the history of women’s suffrage and offer a platform for discussion. The talks will follow with a Q & A and conversation with the scholar. 

We hope that these opportunities for conversation rooted in history and the human experience will offer perspective on one of the founding principles of our democracy. We are so thrilled to include talks from these six phenomenal speakers and look forward to seeing you there! 

These conversations will be presented through Zoom, allowing new and more informal engagement with the scholars and the issues their talks highlight. Each program within the series is free to attend but requires registration to access the zoom link.

Series Schedule

All programs will begin at 6:00 p.m. EDT

July 14 Barbara Palmer 

“Breaking the Political Glass Ceiling: The Frustrating, Exhausting, Amazing, & Inspiring History of Women Running for Office”

Women have been running for public office in the United States for 150 years. However, it has only been since the 1970s that we have seen any significant progress in their numbers. In addition to sharing stories of some of the early trail-blazers who ran before the passage of the 19th Amendment, we will explore how historical barriers, such as incumbency and redistricting, have shaped the electoral success of female candidates. Did the 2016 and 2018 elections finally rewrite the rules?


July 21 Susan Trollinger 

“Rebels in Corsets: The Embodied Rhetoric of the Women’s Suffrage Movement”

The story of the women’s suffrage movement is often told (even by US historians) as a peaceful transition by which white male politicians happily gave women the right to vote. This could not be further from the truth. The movement for women’s suffrage was a 72-year struggle that demanded a great deal from women emotionally, politically, and physically. This lecture looks at what it was like to be a woman in the 19th century with little power to change her circumstances because she did not have access to the ballot box, how it was that women became convinced in the 1840s that it was time to take on that struggle, and how they finally won it through rhetorical strategies that might not look radical to us now but then appeared so radical as to have been called “disgusting.”


July 28 Leslie Goddard

“Alice Paul, Nonviolent Protest, and the American Women’s Suffrage Movement”

In the last seven years of the American women’s suffrage movement, Alice Paul led a determined band of activists in confrontational acts of nonviolent protest: demonstrations, picketing, burning President Wilson in effigy and other “outrageous performances.” Yet she is rarely mentioned as a pioneer in the use of nonviolent direct action. In this illustrated lecture, historian Leslie Goddard explores why Paul should be remembered as one of the earliest leaders of a successful campaign of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance. And why the women’s suffrage moment should be remembered as one of the most remarkable nonviolent protest movements in history.


August 4 Ilene Evans 

“Our Proper Sphere: African American Suffragists”

This presentation examines the changing values expressed in the “Roaring” 20’s about women and their proper place in the world. The ideal of “True Womanhood” and the “Cult of Domesticity” were held up as a standard for the new world family of the Victorian Age. Coralie Franklin Cook—equal rights activist and leader during the women’s suffrage movement—and club women redefined the ideals of true womanhood on their own terms, based on the connection of the family of all mankind and racial equality. Ilene will look at the work of Coralie Franklin Cook, African American sororities, African American Women’s Clubs, and local community action group in which women took part, invigorating the conversation and efforts to be inclusive.


August 11 Kimberly Hamlin

“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 19th Amendment through Congress. This presentation tells the larger story of the suffrage movement through the eyes of one of its most fascinating advocates.


August 18 Carol Lasser

“Bending the Color Line: The Fight for Women’s Suffrage in Ohio”

In the final years of the suffrage struggle, Ohio women’s efforts to gain the vote took place in a national movement that accepted the regional disenfranchisement of African Americans as part of a bargain to overcome Southern resistance.  Yet in Ohio, the opposition from organized liquor interests brought Black and white suffragists together. The story of these complex relationships helps us think about how race, region, and special interests shape alliances and access to the vote.