The Rotunda as seen from the east colonnade

Centuries of Struggle: The Past, Present, and Future of the 19th Amendment





The 19th Amendment: Women’s Struggle to Vote

Join Lifetime Learning for a conversation on the Nineteenth Amendment with Corinne T. Field, associate professor in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality, and Sarah Milov, associate professor in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia.

Women’s rights activists in the United States fought for more than a hundred years to remove sex as a barrier to voting, finally securing the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in August 1920. Women have struggled another century for full inclusion in American democracy—a battle with no end in sight. Following the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment and on the eve of the 2020 presidential election, this panel will bring together two historians to consider the past, present, and future of women and politics.

Corinne T. Field specializes in the history of gender, race, and age in the nineteenth-century United States. Sarah Milov is a historian of twentieth-century political and social movements in the United States. The two will discuss the long history of women’s political involvement, drawing connections between women’s involvement in the early abolitionist movement and the later civil rights struggle, nineteenth-century conceptions of equality and the Equal Rights Amendment, and women’s efforts to secure recognition as political leaders both before and after they won the right to vote. The panel will end with questions from the audience.


Corinne T. Field

Associate Professor, Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, University of Virginia

Corinne T. Field is an associate professor of Women, Gender & Sexuality at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the intersections of age, gender, and race in US history, focusing in particular on the political dimensions of chronological age in debates over women’s rights and racial justice. She is the author of The Struggle for Equal Adulthood: Gender, Race, Age, and the Fight for Citizenship in Antebellum America (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). With Nicholas Syrett, she co-edited Age in America: Colonial Era to the Present (New York University Press, 2015) and a roundtable for the American Historical Review on “Age as a Useful Category of Historical Analysis.”

Her current book project, tentatively titled “Grand Old Women: How Abolitionists and Feminists Transformed Aging in America,” is a collective biography of leading women’s rights activists who grew old in public during the nineteenth century. Women such as Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Frances Harper, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony attained their greatest influence after age fifty and remained active into their sixties, seventies, and eighties. Field’s research explains how these women pushed back against stigma that we would now call “ageism,” how they theorized the intersections of age, race, and class in women’s lives, and how their persistent activism opened new possibilities for women’s security and fulfillment in later life.

Field is a co-founder of the History of Black Girlhood Network, an informal collaboration of scholars working to promote research into the historical experience of black girls, and she was a co-organizer of the Global History of Black Girlhood Conference held at the University of Virginia, April 17-18, 2017. She was the inaugural Mellon-Schlesinger fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, in 2018-2019 and has also held fellowships from the Schlesinger Library, the American Antiquarian Society, the Huntington Library, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Sarah Milov

Associate Professor, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Sarah Milov is a historian of the twentieth-century United States. Her work focuses on how organized interest groups and everyday Americans influence government policy and the terms of political debate. Milov’s current project examines the relationship between gender and whistleblowing in the modern United States. The premise of the work is that there was something constitutive and not coincidental about the simultaneous rise of women in the workforce and the proliferation of whistleblower protection laws beginning in the 1970s. At the same time, strategies used by corporations and government bureaucracies to discredit whistleblowers–regardless of gender–frequently cast them in feminized, hysterical terms. By looking at the intertwined history of whistleblowing and gender, she hopes that three dynamics central to the history of knowledge, capitalism, and modern politics become more clear: new knowledge—and new risks—created by the movement of women into jobs traditionally held by men; the promise and perils of claiming authority as women or sexual minorities; and the gendered techniques of corporate crisis management.

Milov’s first book, The Cigarette: A Political History, is a history of tobacco in the twentieth century that places farmers, government officials, and citizen-activists at the center of the story. Rather than focusing exclusively on “Big Tobacco,” she argues that domestic and global cigarette consumption rose through the efforts of organized tobacco farmers and US government officials; and that it fell as a result of local government action spurred by the efforts of citizen-activists and activist lawyers.