Lange K. Allison, Picturing Political Power – Images in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. University of Chicago Press, May 18, 2020.

“Visual culture did not simply complement verbal and textual feminist analysis of society and women’s place within it, but fundamentally challenged prevalent stereotypes.” (Garrett, Miranda, and Zoë Thomas. Suffrage and the Arts: Visual Culture, Politics and Enterprise. Bloomsbury, 2018. p.4)


To celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, Allison K. Lange publishes a book on the visual culture of the woman’s rights and woman suffrage movement in the United-States untitled Images in the Women’s Suffrage Movement (University of Chicago Press) that will be available in Spring 2020. 

Cover of the book Picturing Political Power: Images in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 2020. source : http://www.allisonklange.com/

Allison K. Lange is an assistant professor of history at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in American history from Brandeis University in 2014. She is working on the long nineteenth century and she particularly focuses on the perspective of culture, politics and gender. 

Apart from the publication of her book, she is curating suffrage exhibitions at the Massachusetts Historical Society and Harvard’s Schlesinger Library. She works also as a public historian and guest curator with the National Women’s History Museum. She delivers talks across the United-States and abroad as she will be present at the conference giving a talk entitled “No Longer in the Margins : The Role of Suffrage in Reframing American History.”

Photograph of Allison K. Lange, available on https://www.womenshistory.org/allison-k-lange-phd

Picturing Political Power : Images in the Women’s Suffrage Movement shows how visuals were used by suffragists as well as anti-suffragists during the American women’s campaign for the voting right. Allison K. Lange shows the way illustrations, engravings, photographs, and chromolithograph posters gave another perspective of womanhood, an image that was defying the one usually associated to women. 

Illustration shows a torch-bearing female labeled “Votes for Women”, symbolizing the awakening of the nation’s women to the desire for suffrage, striding across the western states, where women already had the right to vote, toward the east where women are reaching out to her. Created by Henry Mayer in 1915. Source : https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/98502844/

The work of Allison K. Lange demonstrates how suffragists pioneered one of the first considerable visual campaign in modern American history. Notably through the examination of some tactics used by white suffragists that were different from others promoted by suffragists of color. For example, visuals used by white suffragists spotlighted the relation between the voting right and motherhood while suffragists of color emphasized on pictures promoting respect. 

Anti-suffrage postcard published by Dunston-Weiler Lithograph Company in New York in 1909 showing how the suffrage would feminize men by challenging the “natural” balance between men and women -men belonging to the political sphere and women to the domestic one. source : https://thesuffragepostcardproject.omeka.net/items/show/53

For the centennial of the 19th amendment several books were published. Among them, Suffrage and the Arts: Visual Culture, Politics and Enterprise published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts and written by Miranda Garrett and Zoe Thomas. It focuses on the central role of artists and visual culture in the British Isles during the campaign in favor of the women’s suffrage.  The same way, Allison K. Lange shows how visuals had an central role in American women’s campaign for the voting right and the power of images to change American history throughout the 19th and 20th century.


Bibliography :

“Allison K. Lange, PhD.” Allison K. Lange, PhD, www.allisonklange.com/.

Garrett, Miranda, and Zoë Thomas. Suffrage and the Arts: Visual Culture, Politics and Enterprise. Bloomsbury, 2018.

“Picturing Political Power.” University of Chicago Press, 1 May 2020, www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/P/bo50270913.html.


Merrine Vanhille

« Shall Not Be Denied, » a Library of Congress’s exhibition

The Library of Congress has launched a series of exhibitions, events and programs around the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The « Shall Not Be Denied » exhibition was launched on June 4, 2019. It is the « centerpiece exhibition » and explains the long movement and campaign for women’s right to vote. This movement lasted for about seven decades, during which women created organizations, lobbies, undertook parades, petitions, lectures, and even faced imprisonment. 

 The Library has an important collection of personal papers of important women of the movement such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Staton, or Mary Church Terrell. It also holds the archives of various organizations such as the National Woman’s Party or the National American Woman Suffrage Association and many others. These archives are exhibited in order to inform the general public about the various struggles women faced to obtain the same rights as men. 

The new exhibition, “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote” will open June 4, 2019 at the Library of Congress. Source: The Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-19-002/?utm_source=washingtonorg&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=shall-not-be-denied-women-fight-vote).

You can explore the exhibition online, on The Library of Congress website (https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/women-fight-for-the-vote/about-this-exhibition/%23explore-the-exhibit). It is divided into five main sections, each one presenting one part of the movement’s struggle. Each section displays items that show archives from the period. The first one is entitled « Seneca Falls and Building a Movement, 1776-1890. » It explores the origins of the movement from the Declaration of Independence, which brought the idea of equality to the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and the creation of the National American Woman Suffrage (NAWSA) in 1890.

 The second section goes from the 1890 onwards and is entitled « New Tactics for a New Generation, 1890-1915. » It focuses on the victories achieved by suffragists before the turn of the 20th century. It explores the strategies used by these activists until the 1913 first national suffrage parade.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) and Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), ca. 1870. Photograph. NWP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (027.00.00). Source: The Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/women-fight-for-the-vote/about-this-exhibition/seneca-falls-and-building-a-movement-1776-1890/).

The third section is entitled « Confrontation, Sacrifice, and the Struggle for Democracy, 1916-1917. »  It explores new issues, as the « state-by-state strategy was taking too long. » Differences remained between the NAWSA and the National Woman’s Party (NWP). Some women stopped campaigning for suffrage as the First World War progressed but others, such as NWP members, did not support the war effort. The section ends in 1917 with the arrest of suffragists who were picketing in front of the White House. 

The fourth section is entitled « Hear Us Roar: Victory, 1918 and Beyond. » It explores the strategies that led to the 19th Amendment, i.e. civil disobedience by suffragists, the strategic lobbying of Congress and women’s wartime contributions. During the 1920 elections, women were finally able to vote. The section explains that the NAWSA transformed into the League of Women Voters to continue other fights such as « education, citizen participation, legal, economic, and educational advancement of women. » 

“Honor Roll,” listing thirty-six states in the order they ratified the Nineteenth Amendment. The Suffragist, vol. VIII, no. 8, September 1920. NWP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (125.00.00). Source: The Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/women-fight-for-the-vote/about-this-exhibition/hear-us-roar-victory-1918-and-beyond/ratification-and-beyond/tennessee-makes-it-36/).

Finally, the very last section, « More to the Movement » gives additional information. The items of this section show the diversity of women who participated in this movement: white women, women of color and Native American women. It was a movement for all women regardless of their color or of their social class. However, the fight continued for women of color after 1920.


If you want to prepare your visit to the exhibition, you can buy the special companion to the exhibition entitled Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote. You can access the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Shall-Not-Be-Denied-Women/dp/1978808917


For further information you can access the following links:

Library of congress

Explore the exhibit


Marine Gomes

Neuman, Johanna. And Yet They Persisted: How American Women Won the Right to Vote. Wiley-Blackwell, December 5, 2019.

To celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, Johanna Neuman published her book And Yet They Persisted : How American Women vote the Right to Vote, Wiley-Blackwell, 2019. The book retraces the women’s suffrage in the US movement from 1776 up to 1965.

The book’s cover, available on https://www.johannaneuman.com/book/how-american-women-won-the-right-to-vote/

Johanna Neuman is an author, a journalist and an historian who is usually works on the woman suffrage in the United-States. She received a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, served as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and currently holds the title of Scholar in Residence, History Department, American University. Among her writings, her well acclaimed book Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote was published in 2017.

Photograph shows the author Johanna Neuman with the cover of her 2017’s book Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote. Source : www.suffrageandthemedia.org/source/interview-johanna-neuman-gilded-suffragists/.

In the preview of her book, Johanna Neuman points out the idea that most historians begin the story of the women’s suffrage movement in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood in public to demand the right to vote at a women’s right convention in Seneca Falls in New York City this is actually not true. Lisa Tetrault’s book on the myth of Seneca Falls has changed this interpretation. Johanna Neuman shows that most historians end the story of the suffrage movement in 1920, when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. 

Johanna Neuman carefully expands our understanding of that history. She exposes how women have fought to have voting rights for two centuries, from the very beginning of the US independence -when women used revolutionary fervor to ask for their rights- to the 1965 Voting Rights Act -when African-American women in the South had to fight Jim Crow laws to win the right to vote.

photograph was taken in Washington D.C. in 1964, it shows from left to right: Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Jackson Gray, and Annie Devine. Those women are all Civil Rights Activists and members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. They became the first black women to speak before the United States House of Representatives. Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/31/magazine/31gray.t.html

In her exploration of women’s rights, Johanna Neuman explains several tactics used by suffragists to gain equal citizenship. For example, in the 1830s women launched petition drives, attended suffrage conventions in the 1850s, and strategized to win victories in the states beginning in the 1870s and lobbied Congress in the 1910s to enact the Nineteenth Amendment. 

Photograph showing suffragists parading down Pennsylvania avenue in Washington, DC, 1913. Records of the U.S. Information Agency, Record Group 306; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/marching-suffrage-parade-dc

To promote her book, Johanna Neuman shows how women convinced lawmakers it was in their political interests to enfranchised women, that it would not emasculate men or harm the family. Women’s persistence on that matter enabled them to attend college, to get the right to have property, to stand as equals in marriage, child education and inheritance. What Neuman wants to highlight is that the determination of those women, throughout history, enable today’s women to have basic privileges that were once, out of their reach. 


Bibliography : 

In order to write this billet, I used the different articles found on Johanna Neuman’s Blog : “Women’s Suffrage – Johanna Neuman – Historian & Journalist.” Johanna Neuman, www.johannaneuman.com/.

Neuman, Johanna. “Johanna Neuman Biography: Award-Winning Women’s Suffrage Historian.” Johanna Neuman, www.johannaneuman.com/johanna-neuman-bio/.


Merrine Vanhille

Bennett, April Young, Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists, Brown Blackwell Books, June 4, 2019.

“Having courageously navigated the patriarchal waters of her religious community and beyond, April Young Bennett is a seasoned and articulate voice for women’s equality. Her feminist activism, like her writing, remains consistently clear, intelligent, engaging and informed.”

—Lorie Winder Stromberg, Co-founder, Equal in Faith; Executive Board Member, Ordain Women


April Young Bennett is a writer and the host of a podcast entitled Religious Feminism Podcast. She is a feminist and an activist who advocates “for women, children and underserved populations.” As the title of the book suggests, it explores the first generation of American suffragists in the 1830s through the 1860s, who inspired the new generations. The book links feminists of today and of yesterday by placing 19th-century activism “in the context of the present-day, ongoing struggle for equality.” It “channels the first generation of American feminists as exemplars and advisors as we seek modern solutions” (booktopia.com.au). The book is organized chronologically and thematically by exposing a question by chapter, such as “how can we make our voices heard?” or “is religion compatible with a feminist movement?”

In the 1830s, the idea of equality for women was a new one. The struggles of feminism are entangled with other struggles such as the abolition of slavery, the fight for the expansion of educational and professional opportunities for women, the struggle for racial justice, and temperance.  (Bennett, April Young. « Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists. » Last Modified October 1, 2019. https://askasuffragist.com/coming-spring-2019-americas-first-feminists/.)The book brings topics such as the field of medicine concerning women’s practice, religion, men’s place in the feminist movement or art within the framework of first-wave feminism. April Y. Bennett uses many historical letters, speeches, and newspapers to feed her argumentation. 

First cover of the book Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists. Source: askasuffragist.com

As suggested by the cover of the book,  which represents Frances Ellen Watkins Harper—a famous feminist and abolitionist—women of color played a vital role in first-wave feminism. April Y. Bennett also included white women, who were crucial in this crusade as well—such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Susan B. Anthony. Women were not the only ones who played a part in this first wave since men, such as Frederick Douglass or William Lloyd Garrison, supported it as well. 

She justifies the use of the term « suffragist » instead of « suffragette » in an interview by explaining that at the time of first-wave feminism the term « suffragette » referred to British rather than American activism (Bennett, April Young. « Ask a Suffragist: Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists. » Last Modified October 1, 2019. https://askasuffragist.com/coming-spring-2019-americas-first-feminists/.)

The book synthesizes the history of first-wave feminism. It highlights and celebrates the diversity of the figures of this first wave. Moreover, it explains very well how these figures did not always agree on the ways to achieve their goals. 


For further information you can access the following links:

https://www.amazon.com/
https://askasuffragist.com/
https://www.kirkusreviews.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/

Marine Gomes

Exhibition “Votes For Women: A Portrait of Persistence” at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. had organized since March, 29, 2019 an exhibition entitled “Votes For Women : A Portrait of Persistence” which ends on January 5, 2020. It is part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative “Because of Her Story” that collects, shares stories of inspiring women who contributed and who still contribute to women’s equality in the nation and in the world. (see more information about “Because of Her Story” initiative on  womenshistory.si.edu). 

Source: Meyer, Jonathan. “What To See In Washington DC.” What To See In Washington DC, Mar. 2019, whattoseeinwashingtondc.com/index.php/2019/04/05/two-in-a-million/.

The exhibition is divided chronologically and thematically and shows American women’s struggle to gain equality from 1832 through 1919 until today. It gives a particular place to pioneers of the movement who greatly contributed in the struggle for women’s suffrage such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth and participants in the 1848 Sececa Falls convention such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. The exhibition also sheds lights on activists such as Alicia Paul, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucy Burns and Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in 1872.

Signers of the Declaration of Sentiments at Seneca Falls (1848).
Source : US Census Bureau. “Signatures to the ‘Declaration of Sentiments.’” The United States Census Bureau, 27 Aug. 2019, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sis/resources/historical-documents/declaration-sentiments.html.

By opening with a page from The Liberator -an abolitionist newspaper- featuring an engraving of an enslaved woman, the exhibition gives a particular place to the role of Black women in the suffrage movement and shows how women of color were kept apart from the main suffrage organizations. Some of the women of color who fought for the right to vote are presented in the exhibit : Sarah Remond, who filed one of the earliest lawsuit protesting race segregation; Ida B. Wells and her curse against lynchings; Mary Church Terrell, the founder of the National Association of Colored Women (1896) and Patsy Takemoto Mink, who became the first non-white female member of Congress in 1965.

Photograph shows four early members of the NACW. From left to right : Mary McLeod Bethune (president from 1924 to 1938), Julia West Hamilton (treasurer), Ella P. Stewart (president from 1948-1952) and Mary Church Terrell (first president, 1896 to 1904).
source : Ohio Memory Collection ‘National Association of Colored Women Photograph.” Ohio History Connection, https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll36/id/15691

The exhibition also diplays original photographic portraits, paintings, engravings, works on paper, lithographs, video, newspapers, postcards, books, ballots, banners, fliers, a china set, embroidery and pennants. By recounting the incredible stories of those inspiring women, curator Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay shows how the struggle to gain equality was still in process after the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1919.

Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay will be a part of the conference. She will present the importance of women’s suffrage movement in American History.


You may see more information about the exhibition by following the link:   https://npg.si.edu/exhibition/votes-for-women?utm_source=washingtonorg&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=votes-women-portrait-persistence


Sources :

Jenkins, Mark. “This Smithsonian Exhibition Follows the Long Road to Women’s Suffrage.”
The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 Apr. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/museums/this-smithsonian-exhibition-follows-the-long-road-to-womens suffrage/2019/04/18/102865d4-5f8e-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html.


“Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence.” National Portrait Gallery, 26 June 2018,
www.npg.si.edu/exhibition/votes-for-
women?utm_source=washingtonorg&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=votes-women-
portrait-persistence.


Merrine Vanhille

“How the Daughters and Granddaughters of Former Slaves Secured Voting Rights for All,” Martha Jones.


Martha Jones is a professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University. More precisely she is a legal and cultural historian of African Americans. She is the author of several books, notably Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum American, and the forthcoming  2020 book Vanguard: A Political History of African American Women. She will be one of the speakers at the International Conference ‘‘‘How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?:’ Woman Suffrage and Women’s Citizenship in the Long History of the 19th Amendment,’’ where she will present her forthcoming book.

Martha Jones looks at the question of how the daughters and granddaughters of former slaves secured voting rights for all women. She focuses on the questions of race and gender in the context of the Voting Rights Act and the history of Black people’s vote. In this article, M. Jones is presenting several African American women who fought for women’s right to vote. 

Martha Jones explains that African American women have a history of fighting for their rights—here the Voting Rights Act— in ‘‘their own way.’’ She acknowledges the fact that black women and white women clashed at some point during this campaign for the Voting Rights Act.  

 She highlights the importance of the Church in the history of black women and their activism. It was the place where African American women could develop ‘‘their sense of rights and how then to organize for them.’’ She explains her argument through the relevant example of a black woman, Julia Foote, who became the leader of a churchwomen’s movement advocating for women to ‘‘be entitled to occupy pulpits and interpret the scriptures.’’ They won the case in 1848, the very same year of the Seneca Falls Convention.

Julia Foote, source: “Julia A. J. Foote,” wikiwand.

Black women and men fought for their enfranchisement. Yet, at the time of the 15th Amendment, a sort of consensus was reached among black women that the franchise for all men, regardless of their race, should be obtained before their own suffrage. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was one of these women. For Martha Jones, Watkins Harper was a ‘‘political visionary’’ because she advocated a spirit of unity among women of color. Yet, divergences of opinions existed among women and they divided into two associations: the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) and the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Both defended women’s right to vote, but the former was in favor of the 15th Amendment, and the latter was against it because it did not include women’s suffrage. 

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, source: “How Early Suffragists Sold Out Black Women,” history.com.

Further in the article, Martha Jones looks at Eliza Gardner, who started her career with church activism. She was among the women who founded the National Conference of Colored Women in 1895. With other black female activists they ‘‘tackle[ed] national problems’’ such as ‘‘the rise of segregation, racial violence and the disenfranchisement that affected black men and women alike.’’

Eliza Gardner, source: “Eliza Ann Gardner,” Wikipedia.

 It is the very fact that black women ‘‘had always strived to enhance their power’’ that allowed them to obtain the right to vote in Illinois, in 1916. Through their churches and clubs, they became activists who were engaged in marching, electioneering or even voting. Illinois was only the first step towards the 19th Amendment in 1920. Gender and race shaped black women’s history and fight for their rights. Michelle Obama highlighted this fact by saying that it was what shaped black women’s political identities. 

You can access the entire article written by Martha Jones and further details by following this link: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/how-daughters-and-granddaughters-former-slaves-secured-voting-rights-all-180971660/


Marine Gomes

The organizing committee

Audrey Célestine is an Associate professor in American studies at the University of Lille where she teaches U.S. history and social science. She’s a political scientist focusing on social movements, collective identity and race in a comparative perspective (France and the U.S.) and the post-colonial trajectories of French and U.S. Caribbean territories (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico). She is currently a junior member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) and a visiting professor at New York University. 

She recently published La fabrique des identités. L’encadrement politique des minorités caribéennes à Paris et New York (Paris: Karthala, 2018) and Une famille française. Des Antilles à Dunkerque en passant par l’Algérie (Paris: Textuel, 2018).


Claire Delahaye is an Associate Professor of American studies and History at the University of Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée (France) and a member of LISAA (Laboratoire Littératures, Savoirs et Arts). She graduated from École Normale Supérieure and Sorbonne Nouvelle. Her doctoral research scrutinized Woodrow Wilson and the struggle for woman suffrage from a national and transnational perspective. It was awarded the best dissertation prize at Sorbonne Nouvelle and published as Wilson contre les femmes (Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2012).

Her publications focus on presidential history, the Great War and woman suffrage. The book she co-wrote with Béatrice Bijon, Suffragistes et suffragettes. La conquête du droit de vote des femmes au Royaume-Uni et aux États-Unis (Lyon: ENS Éditions, 2017), is a selection of British and American suffragists’ writings translated into French with critical introductions.

Her current research project addresses the issues of historiography and memory of the woman suffrage struggle after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. She was a visiting fellow at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in the spring of 2018. Her recent publications include “‘A Tract in Fiction’: Woman Suffrage Literature and the Struggle for the Vote,” European Journal of American Studies 11:1 (2016) and “Le lobbying des suffragistes au Congrès (1913-1920),” Politique Américaine 27 (2016): 63-83. 


Simon Grivet (b. 1977) is Associate Professor at University of Lille since 2017. He specializes on legal history, crime and punishment, federal justice and the American South. He obtained his Ph.D in American history from the EHESS (Paris) on the history of the death penalty in California (2011).


Nicolas Martin-Breteau is Associate Professor of U.S. History and American Studies at the University of Lille. He is a researcher at the Centre d’étude en civilisations, lettres et langues étrangères (CECILLE). He is a member of the editorial board of Critique internationale: Revue comparative de sciences sociales.

He specializes on contemporary African American history, most notably the long history of black Americans’ political mobilizations for racial justice. Nicolas Martin-Breteau has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals on these questions. He has recently published the first French edition of W.E.B. Du Bois’ 1899 classic The Philadelphia Negro (Paris: La Découverte, 2019). He is currently editing the manuscript of his forthcoming book tentatively entitled Bodies Politic: Sport in African American Struggles for Justice in Washington, D.C. (Paris: Editions de l’EHESS, 2020).

In order to pursue his current research on Du Bois, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the history of anti-racism in the United States, he has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship as to work as invited scholar at the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst during the 2020 Spring semester.


Hélène Quanquin is Professor of American Studies at the University of Lille, where she teaches U.S. history. She is a women’s and gender historian, with a focus on U.S. feminisms and nineteenth-century reform movements.

She has published many articles and book chapters on abolitionism and women’s rights in collective volumes and journal issues (Louisiana State University Press, Rochester University Press, American Studies Journal, Revue Française d’Études Américaines, Epistolaire). Her book on « women’s rights men », Men in the American Women’s Rights Movement, 1830-1890: Cumbersome Allies, will be published by Routledge in 2020. She was visiting professor at Brown University (2008) and the University of Texas at Austin (2014).

Hélène Quanquin’s research has been funded by the Schlesinger Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, the Sophia Smith Collection and the French Association of American Studies (AFEA).


Fatma Ramdani is an Associate Professor at the University of Lille where she teaches American history and society. Her primary research interests are American feminist movements and their transnational dimensions, with a special emphasis on women’s reproductive rights. She is also interested in African American women’s contributions to black thought and American history.

She has published several articles and book chapters on mainstream and African American feminist movements, women’s archives and gender issues at the United Nations.

CFP: How long must women wait for liberty

“HOW LONG MUST WOMEN WAIT FOR LIBERTY?”

WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND WOMEN’S CITIZENSHIPS IN THE LONG HISTORY OF THE 19TH AMENDMENT

January 8-10, 2020

Université de Lille / Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée

 On July 28, 2018, Brent Staples published a New York Times op-ed entitled “How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women” in which he warned the organizers of the centennial of the 19th amendment against “convey[ing] pernicious messages and perpetuat[ing] historical wrongs” during the commemorations by overlooking both the racist history of the fight for woman suffrage in the United States and the major role that black activists played in it. “The recent uproar over the monuments to white supremacy that dominate public spaces in the South has put civic groups on notice that memorials often convey pernicious messages and perpetuate historical wrongs. Organizers [of the centennial celebrations] need to keep that in mind as they commemorate a movement in which racism clearly played a central role,” he wrote. This article thus encouraged us to see beyond the symbol of the Nineteenth Amendment and the victory narrative associated with it, and recover the complex history in which it is rooted and think about its legacy at a moment when the right to vote in the United States is still being contested, a perspective which the Schlesinger Library and Radcliffe Institute’s project entitled “The Long 19th Amendment” illuminates (https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news/schlesinger-newsletter/long-19th-amendment).

As Alexander Keyssar has shown in The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (Basic Books, 2000), the history of the right to vote in the United States is a history of both progress and regression, and woman suffrage is no exception. New Jersey was the only state to enfranchise propertied women in 1776, a decision which Rosemarie Zagarri called “the New Jersey exception” (Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), only to disenfranchise them some 30 years later. Not only were some American women enfranchised at the municipal and state levels before 1920,[i] but the first woman Representative, Jeannette Rankin, was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1916.

On the other hand, many women remained disenfranchised after the ratification of the 19th amendment, such as black women in the South, Native American women until 1924, and American women married to foreigners, who had been deprived of their citizenship by the Expatriation Act of 1907 and a Supreme Court decision in 1915. Up to this day, voter suppression has prevented women – and men – from exercising their right to vote.

            Problematic conceptualizations of citizenship have also shaped the history of woman suffrage. In Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), Rogers M. Smith notes that U.S. citizenship has been legally constructed “in terms of illiberal and undemocratic racial, ethnic, and gender hierarchies” (p.1). Dynamics of marginalization have characterized the understanding of US citizenship, outside the woman suffrage movement and within it. Yet women’s social movements have also explored citizenship in practice, thus giving it new directions and new meanings through their experiences outside the voting booth.

The aim of this conference is to rethink the history of the 19th amendment by reassessing its significance as well as its multifaceted legacy. Individual papers may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:


  • The place of suffrage in early feminisms before and after 1920: Was woman suffrage a central demand of the women’s rights movement in the nineteenth and early twentieth century? To what extent was this demand radical or conservative (Ellen Carol DuBois, Lori Ginzberg)? To what extent did the emphasis on the right to vote limit the radicalism of the women’s rights movement by making alliances across race and class difficult if not impossible? Did the exercise of the right to vote remain an important demand of the women’s rights movement after 1920? What were the specificities of women of color’s struggle for the franchise (Rosalind Terborg-Penn)? Were white feminist activists concerned with black disenfranchisement after the ratification of the 19th amendment?[ii] Is there a female specificity in the phenomenon of voter suppression (Carol Anderson)?

  • The place of suffrage in the definitions of women’s citizenships before and after 1920: How was women’s citizenship constructed outside of the right to vote before 1920 (see for instance Linda Kerber’s “Republican Mothers” and Jan Lewis’s “Republican Wives”)? How were women’s economic and political citizenships articulated in the 19th and early 20th century (Lizabeth Cohen, Alice Kessler-Harris, Lara Vapnek) and how did the right to vote help redefine women’s citizenships? What were women’s experiences of the vote before 1920? What were the geographical specificities of woman suffrage and women’s citizenship before and after 1920?  Did the debates over the 26th amendment involve gendered arguments?

  • The long 19th amendment from a transnational and international perspective: To what extent was the American fight for woman suffrage specific to the United States? What were the international networks that American suffragists benefited from before 1920? What were the international networks women of color participated in when fighting for their right to vote? Did some American women help foreign disenfranchised women after 1920? How was woman suffrage used to feed US imperial designs before and after 1920? How uniquely American is voter suppression?




KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Martha Jones (Johns Hopkins University). Rogers Smith (University of Pennsylvania).

DEADLINE FOR ALL SUBMISSIONS: May 15, 2019.


Proposals (500 words in English and a short bio) to be sent to: nineteenth1920@gmail.com 

(We welcome papers from graduate and doctoral students.)

Proposals will be reviewed by the Conference Committee:

Audrey Célestine, CERAPS, IUF, Université de Lille

Claire Delahaye, LISAA, Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée

Simon Grivet, CECILLE, Université de Lille

Nicolas Martin-Breteau, CECILLE, Université de Lille

Hélène Quanquin, CECILLE, Université de Lille

Fatma Ramdani, CECILLE, Université de Lille


References:

Anderson, Carol. One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Cohen, Lizabeth. A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

DuBois, Ellen Carol, Mari Jo Buhle, Temma Kaplan, Gerda Lerner, et Carroll Smith- Rosenberg. “Politics and Culture in Women’s History: A Symposium.” Feminist Studies, vol. 6, n° 1 (Spring 1980), p. 26-64.

Ginzberg, Lori D. “Re-Viewing the First Wave.” Feminist Studies, vol. 28, n° 2 (Summer 2002), p. 418-434.

 Kerber, Linda K. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1980.

Kessler-Harris, Alice. In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in 20th century America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Keyssar, Alexander. The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States. Basic Books, 2000.

Lewis, Jan. “The Republican Wife: Virtue and Seduction in the Early Republic.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 4 (October1987), p. 689-721.

McConnaughy, Corrine M. The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Smith, Rogers M. Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997.

Staples, Brent. “How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women.” New York Times, July 28, 2018.

Terborg-Penn, Rosalind. African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850 to 1920. Blomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

Vapnek, Lara. Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865—1920. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

Zagarri, Rosemarie. Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

[i] As Corrine M. McConnaughy asserts, “beneath the surface of the long wait for a federal woman suffrage amendment was a much more dynamic story of the politics of women’s voting rights in the states.” The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), p. 2. Before 1920, some states granted women full voting rights, whereas others allowed them to vote on school matters or other local issues, and others enabled them to vote in statewide elections or presidential elections only.

[ii] The issue of black disenfranchisement was put forward by a delegation of 60 colored women at the February 1921 National Woman’s Party convention. They presented evidence of the violation of the Nineteenth Amendment and asked the National Woman’s Party to support a congressional investigation on the matter, but the organization refused to help them, see Freda Kirchwey, “Alice Paul Pulls the Strings,” The Nation (March 2, 1921), 332–33.

How long must women wait for liberty?

The aim of this conference blog is to document the organization of a conference that will take place at the University of Lille and the University of Marne-la-Vallée from January 8 to January 10 2020 for the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. Posts related to voting rights in contemporary America will be published on the blog. It will also deal with the various publications that will follow the conference (conference proceedings, books, edited volumes etc.)