OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Anne M. Boylan

Portrait of Anne M. Boylan

Anne M. Boylan is an emeritus professor of history and women and gender studies at the University of Delaware, where she taught and did research on women's history, social history, and historical memory. The author of Votes for Delaware Women (2021), Women's Rights in the United States: A History in Documents (2015), The Origins of Women's Activism: New York and Boston, 1797-1840 (2002), and Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution (1988), she is currently working on two projects: biographical profiles of Delaware's women suffrage leaders; and an article on popular presentations of women's history in the 1930s and 1940s. She has worked extensively with teachers of grades 3-12 through federal Teaching American History grants.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This lecture offers a challenge to the common narrative that women "were granted" or, more accurately, won the right to vote in 1920. It looks at the significance of the 19th Amendment by examining some women's access to and use of voting rights before 1920, the Amendment's ratification, and women's continuing exclusions from voting and full citizenship after 1920.
This lecture contrasts the "old" history of women's rights and women's rights movements with the "new" history that scholars have produced over the past thirty years. It focuses on broad themes in conceptualizing "women's rights" and uses specific examples to develop the themes.
The lecture offers an overview of women's public roles in the post-Civil War era, focusing on three ways in which organized groups of women took action to make themselves publicly visible: monument-building by heritage associations, reshaping city landscapes, and seeking partial or full suffrage.
Students coming into our classes bring with them assorted chunks of historical and legal knowledge, gleaned mostly from movies and TV. (Ask any student to recite the "perp's" Miranda rights, and most will be able to do so verbatim because they have seen so many crime shows.) At the same time, we historians regularly tear our hair over students' ignorance of basic historical facts. The lecture starts from the premise that we do our students a disservice if we either ignore their prior knowledge or waste energy attempting to correct misinformation. It argues that we should engage with what they "know," in order to teach them how to discern and critically analyze the historical interpretations they encounter in popular media.