Distinguished Lecturers
Lori D. Ginzberg

Lori D. Ginzberg

Lori D. Ginzberg is a professor of history and women’s studies at Penn State University. Her work focuses on the intellectual history and political identities of nineteenth-century women. The author of four books, she has long been fascinated by the ways ideologies about gender obscure the material and ideological realities of class, how women of different groups express political identities, and the ways that commonsense notions of American life shape, contain, and control radical ideas. Her books include Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States (1990), Untidy Origins: A Story of Woman's Rights in Antebellum New York (2005), and most recently, Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life (2009). Her most recent book is Tangled Journeys: One Family’s Story and the Making of American History (2024)Ginzberg received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012-2013. 

NEW IN 2024: Tangled Journeys: One Family’s Story and the Making of American History (forthcoming, University of North Carolina Press)

OAH Lectures by Lori D. Ginzberg

In 1830 Richard Walpole Cogdell, a Charleston husband, father, and bank clerk, purchased a fifteen-year-old enslaved girl, Sarah Martha Sanders. Until her death in 1850, she bore nine of his children, five of whom reached adulthood. In 1857, this all-too-ordinary story took an extraordinary turn, when Cogdell and his enslaved children moved to Philadelphia, where he bought them a house, and where they became, virtually overnight, part of the African American middle class. An ambitious historical narrative about the Sanders family, Tangled Journeys tells a multi-generational, multi-racial story that is both traumatic and prosaic. At the same time, through what Ginzberg calls “whispers” — questions that the available evidence cannot answer but that force us to confront what was unseen, unheard, and undocumented— the author invites readers into the process of American history-making, the evidence historians encounter and interpret, and how stretching those sources can reshape our understanding of the past.

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