OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Cathleen D. Cahill

Portrait of Cathleen D. Cahill
Image Credit: Michael T. Davis

Cathleen D. Cahill teaches at Penn State University. She is the author of Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869–1932 (2011), which won the Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award and was a finalist for the David J. Weber and Bill Clements Book Prize. Cahill is a social historian who explores the everyday experiences of ordinary people, primarily women. She focuses on women's working and political lives, asking how identities such as race, nationality, class, and age have shaped them. She is also interested in the connections generated by women's movements for work, play, and politics, and how mapping those movements reveal women in surprising and unexpected places. She is currently engaged in two book projects. "Joining the Parade: Women of Color Challenge the Mainstream Suffrage Movement" follows the lead of feminist scholars of color calling for alternative "genealogies of feminism," using individual biographies to explore the activism of African American, indigenous, Chinese American, and Hispana women before and after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. "Indians on the Road: Gender, Race, and Regional Identity" reimagines the West Coast through the lens of indigenous people's relationships with the transportation systems that bisected their lands, forming corridors of conquest and environmental change while simultaneously connecting them in new and sometimes-empowering ways to other people and places.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

The story of the fight for woman suffrage is a familiar one. We know the names of the leading suffragists—Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Carrie Chapman Catt. We remember that suffrage was finally won via the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But those facts are only part of the story. This lecture reveals the hidden histories of the Native American, Chinese American, African American, and Hispana suffragists who not only challenged women’s inequality but also fought against the racial prejudices of the age. They marched in parades, debated with national suffrage leaders, and met with presidents and other politicians. They insisted that women in their communities also deserved the vote. For some of them, the ratification of the woman suffrage amendment in 1920 was a moment of celebration. But for others it was not the end of their fight for equality. It offers a revealing look at an inspiring new history of woman suffrage.