The Center for Women’s History at New-York Historical Society is the first center of its kind within the walls of a major museum in the United States. Since the Center was conceived in 2015, we have worked to shine a spotlight on women’s lives and experiences through exhibitions, educational initiatives, and public and scholarly programs. Today, we are excited to announce the launch of our new blog, “Women at the Center.” The blog will highlight all that we do at the Center, and will offer a venue to explore new ideas in women’s history through original research, interviews, and guest posts. Follow us here and on New-York Historical’s social media accounts!

Women at the Center: (left to right): Virginia Espino, Katherine Franke, Valerie Paley, Fatima Goss Graves, and Irin Carmon at the Third Annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History. Don Pollard, New-York Historical Society.

Women in the Museum: Exhibitions and Interactives

The Center opened in full one year ago, anchored by the stunning Tiffany gallery, which tells the story of designer Clara Driscoll and the unsung “Tiffany Girls” who lit up early-twentieth-century New York City. In the year since we opened, we’ve been keeping busy! Our Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery has hosted three major exhibitions: our inaugural show, Saving Washington, on women and politics in the Early Republic; The Duchess of Carnegie Hall, featuring the photographs of Editta Sherman, and our current show, Hotbed, which explores the bohemian women of Greenwich Village and how they energized the suffrage movement in New York City and State. Our permanent interactive digital installation, Women’s Voices, celebrates the role New York women have played in shaping American history. Our multimedia film experience, “We Rise,” premiered in the Robert H. Smith Auditorium in November, where it runs daily on the half hour, celebrating women’s political and cultural contributions to New York City and the nation the early twentieth century.

Women in the Conversation: Education and Public Programs

We have also partnered with our Education Division to create a curriculum guide for middle- and high-school students, “Women and the American Story,” and we have launched a Massive Open Online Course in partnership with Columbia University titled “Women Have Always Worked.” That course is taught by Alice Kessler-Harris, the chair of our scholarly advisory committee. Throughout the year, we offer a robust slate of public and scholarly programs, including an early career workshop for graduate students and recent PhDs, and regular women’s history salon conversations and programs in the 4th floor Skylight Gallery.

Geoffrey Stone gives the keynote address at the third annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History. Don Pollard, New-York Historical Society.

The cornerstone of our public programming is the annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History. Our third annual Max Conference took place this past Sunday, March 4, drawing a packed house for a full day of presentations on “Sex and the Constitution.” Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School opened the program with a keynote address drawn from his 2017 book, Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century. Nadine Strossen, the first woman president of the ACLU, then joined Akhil Reed Amar and Robert Post of Yale Law School to discuss the place of sex in law and jurisprudence. They were followed by pathbreaking women’s historians Nancy Cott (Harvard), Deborah Gray White (Rutgers), and Estelle Freedman (Stanford), who placed this legal story in its broader political, economic, and social contexts on a panel moderated by Reva Siegel (Yale).

(left to right) Nancy Cott, Deborah Gray White, Estelle Freedman, and Reva Siegel at the third annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History. Don Pollard, New-York Historical Society.

After lunch, journalist Irin Carmon moderated a discussion of “Sex and Equality in the age of Trump” featuring  historian and filmmaker Virginia Espino, legal scholar Katherine Franke of Columbia Law School, and lawyer and advocate Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center. Professor Stone then returned to reflect on the proceedings with Amy Adler of NYU law. The conference was streamed live on our New-York Historical Society facebook page, where it is archived.

Women at the Center: An Online Space for Women’s History

We have launched this new blog to highlight all that we do at the Center for Women’s History, and to create a space for continuing and enriching the conversations that begin within our walls. We began blogging this past November with weekly guest posts on New-York Historical’s “Behind the Scenes” blog, which allowed us to develop several approaches to writing women’s history for a digital audience. Our “Finding Women in the Archives” series explores the rich collections of the New-York Historical Society and shows how historians of women trace narratives through them. “Teaching Women’s History” highlights the many ways that our Education Division and others are making women’s history part of the US history curriculum, and our “Then and Now” series offers historical reflections on present-day phenomena.

As we develop this blog, we will be developing new approaches, too. Stay tuned for interviews, guest posts, and more from our team. We’ll also be sharing the work of our New-York Historical colleagues whenever it relates to women’s history, such as the Library’s ongoing series on Clare Booth Luce.  

Women at the Center will feature new posts twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, throughout the month of March. Follow along and join the conversation! #womenatthecenter.

Top Photo Credits: Valerie Paley, Chief Historian and Director, Center for Women’s History, opens the third annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History. Don Pollard, New-York Historical Society.

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