Current Programs

The Bonnie and Richard Reiss Graduate Institute for Constitutional History is pleased to announce its spring 2022 seminar for advanced graduate students and junior faculty

The Contested Right to Vote

Meeting Dates & Time:
Fridays, May 13 and 20, June 3 and 10, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
Instructors: Richard Briffault, Eugene D. Mazo


Seminar Description:

The right to vote is the foundation of democracy, yet the extent, meaning, and effectiveness of the vote have been contested throughout American history. Voting eligibility has expanded since the Revolution from a limited number of white men, who in most states had to be property owners or taxpayers, to include most adult citizens today. But significant obstacles to voting and to the institutions that protect the right to vote remain, serving to undermine democracy. The Constitution itself does not confer the right to vote, but, since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, more amendments have addressed voting than any other subject, and constitutional law—along with important federal statutes—has played a key role in structuring the ongoing debate over voting. In this seminar, Professors Richard Briffault and Eugene Mazo will trace the evolution of the right to vote from the founding to the present day, paying particular attention to the legal, political, and social forces that led to the expansion of the right to vote, and to the forces—both historical and contemporary—that have sought to curtail it.


The seminar will be presented in person at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, on the following dates:

  • Friday, May 13, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
  • Friday, May 20, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
  • Friday, June 3, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
  • Friday, June 10, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET

Accepted students will receive further instructions and the classroom location within the New-York Historical Society.

Application Process:

The seminar is designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law, and related disciplines. All participants will be expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions. Although the Institute cannot offer academic credit directly for the seminar, students may be able to earn graduate credit through their home departments by completing an independent research project in conjunction with the seminar. Please consult with your advisor and/or director of graduate studies about these possibilities. 

Space is limited. To apply, please submit the following material to by April 12, 2022:

  • Your C.V.
  • A short statement on how this seminar will be useful to you in your research, teaching, or professional development.

Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter. For further information, please email Alexander Kassl at

Additional Information:

There is no tuition or other charge for this seminar, though participants will be expected to acquire the assigned books on their own. 

About ICH: 

The Bonnie and Richard Reiss Graduate Institute for Constitutional History (ICH) is the nation’s premier institute dedicated to ensuring that future generations of Americans understand the substance and historical development of the U.S. Constitution. Located at the New York Historical Society, the Institute is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Political Science Association. The Association of American Law Schools is a cooperating entity. ICH prepares junior scholars and college instructors to convey to their readers and students the important role the Constitution has played in shaping American society. ICH also provides a national forum for the preparation and dissemination of humanistic, interdisciplinary scholarship on American constitutional history.

The Bonnie and Richard Reiss Graduate Institute for Constitutional History is supported, in part, by the Saunders Endowment for Constitutional History and a “We the People” challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Image credit: Trikosko, Marion S, photographer. Marchers with signs at the March on Washington. Washington D.C, 1963. Photograph. LOC.

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Education programs are made possible through endowments established by
National Endowment for the Humanities
The Hearst Foundations
The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation

Public funds are provided by
Institute of Museum and Library Services
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer
New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature

Education programs at New-York Historical receive generous support from
The Achelis and Bodman Foundation
The Edith and Frances Mulhall Achilles Memorial Fund
Acorn Hill Foundation
Altman Foundation
Barker Welfare Foundation
Best Buy
Maggie & Robert Boroujerdi
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Con Edison
Deutsche Bank
Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
Mark and Lori Fife
Henry Nias Foundation
Alan Shuch and Leslie Himmel
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
Keith Haring Foundation
Susan and Robert E. Klein
Caroline Lowndes Foundation
Ann Lozman
Dan W. Lufkin

Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation
The Michael Tuch Foundation
Sandra and Lowell Mintz
Consulate General of the Netherlands
New York Community Trust
Onassis Foundation USA
Heidi and Richard Ong
Pine Tree Foundation of New York
The Pinkerton Foundation
Jean Reid
Denice Rein
Richard Reiss
Rice Family Foundation
Sara Lee Schupf
The Scripps Family Fund for Education and the Arts
Robie Spector
Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Gillian V. and Robert Steel
Thompson Family Foundation
Tiger Baron Foundation
The Waterfall Family Foundation
Rachael Wells
Winston Foundation
Marie and John Zimmermann Fund