From Suffrage to Power: Reflections on Women's Citizenship (Morning Session)

  • Sunday, March 1, 2020
  • Sun, March 1, 2020 | 9 am–12:30 pm | $10 (free for Members)


The Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History

Now in its fifth year, the Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women's History is the cornerstone of the Center for Women's History's public and scholarly programs. The 2020 conference contemplates the legacy of the 19th Amendment in its centennial year. Scholars, journalists, jurists, and activists will consider the suffrage movement in all of its forms and complexity and explore the ways in which women have organized for full freedom and citizenship in the 100 years since ratification. The conference coincides with our exhibition on the same themes, Women March, opening Feb. 28 in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery.

2020 CONFERENCE: From Suffrage to Power: Reflections on Women’s Citizenship

Sun, March 1, 2020 | 9 am–5 pm | $10 (free for Members)

One hundred years ago, the ratification of the 19th Amendment enshrined the voting rights of women in the United States Constitution. The struggle for suffrage had begun over 70 years earlier, and had, at different moments, united and divided American women across lines of race, region, class, and religion. Ratification in 1920 represented a significant but incomplete victory: White supremacist laws and violence still kept many women from voting, while discrimination in employment, public service, health care, and the courts kept women from achieving full and equal citizenship. As Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson declared in 1947: “The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote and that is all it gave them.” 

For advocates of gender equity then, the 19th Amendment was “a beginning, not an end,” as Jackson’s successor on the bench, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said. On the centennial of suffrage, the Center for Women’s History explores the struggles for women’s equality in all their forms and complexity, from the beginnings of the abolitionist and suffrage movements through the present. 


9 AM
Louise Mirrer, president and CEO, New-York Historical Society
Valerie Paley, director of the Center for Women’s History and senior vice president and chief historian, New-York Historical Society

9:05 AM
U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, 12th Congressional District, New York

9:15 AM 
Adele Logan Alexander, George Washington University and author of Princess of the Hither Isles (2019)


10:15 AM
Radical Origins: Abolition, Suffrage, and the Civil War: The Civil War culminated in landmark constitutional amendments that brought about sweeping social change, like the abolishment of slavery, birthright citizenship, and voting rights for African American men. The Reconstruction amendments were also the first to mention gender in the Constitution. This panel discusses the complicated history of abolition and suffrage in the 19th century and how the outcome of the Civil War transformed the path toward women’s suffrage. 


Martha S. Jones, Johns Hopkins University and author of Birthright Citizens: A  History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (2018)
Manisha Sinha, University of Connecticut and author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (2016)
Lisa Tetrault, Carnegie Mellon University and author of The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women's Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898 (2014)
Stephanie McCurry, Columbia University and author of Women’s War: Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War (2019)

11:15 AM BREAK

11:30 AM 
Suffrage and Citizenship: The Road to the 19th Amendment: The 19th Amendment represented decades of suffragists’ efforts to expand democracy and extend one of the most essential tenets of citizenship to women. Its ratification in 1920 was one of the largest expansions of the franchise in American history, but there were shortcomings: Many black women in the Jim Crow South experienced voter suppression due to literacy tests and poll taxes, and Native and Asian American women were denied the franchise because of citizenship status. This panel considers the impact and limitations of the 19th Amendment across race, class, gender, and citizenship status. 


Brenda J. Child, University of Minnesota, former president of the Native American & Indigenous Studies Association, and author of My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation (2014)
Treva Lindsey, Ohio State University and author of Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington D.C. (2017)
Lauren Santangelo, Princeton University and New-York Historical Society, and author of Suffrage And The City: New York Women Battle For The Ballot (2019)
Brent Staples, New York Times and 2019 Pulitzer Prize recipient for editorial writing
Linda Greenhouse, Yale Law School and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law, Senior Research Scholar in Law, Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and author of Just a Journalist: On the Press, Life, and the Spaces Between (2017)


For more information or to purchase a ticket, please visit or call (212) 485-9268.

Major funding for the Center for Women’s History provided by Claudine and Fred Bacher, James Basker and Angela Vallot, Joyce B. Cowin, Deutsche Bank, Diana and Joseph DiMenna, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, The Estate of Jean Dubinksy Appleton, Susan and Robert Klein, Diane and Adam E. Max, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Jean Margo Reid, Pam and Scott Schafler, Eric J. and Daria L. Wallach, Susan Waterfall, Leah and Michael R. Weisberg, and The Women’s Travel Group.


The Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024


Admission is free for New-York Historical Society Members; advance reservations are required to guarantee seating.
Please note that there are separate registrations for the morning and afternoon sessions. Please purchase a ticket to both the morning and afternoon sessions if you plan on attending the entire conference.

By phone: Please contact New-York Historical’s in-house call center at (212) 485-9268. Call center is open 9 am–5 pm daily.
Online: Click on the orange “Buy Tickets” button at the top of this page.
In person: Advance tickets may be purchased/reserved on site at New-York Historical’s Admissions desk during museum hours.

Advance purchase is required to guarantee seating. All sales are final; refunds and exchanges not permitted. Programs and dates may be subject to change. Management reserves the right to refuse admission to latecomers. Program tickets do not include Museum Admission unless otherwise noted.

Image credit: Sievers Studio, League of Women Voters, 1920. Missouri History Museum