OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Susan Goodier

Portrait of Susan Goodier

Susan Goodier studies U.S. women’s activism, particularly woman suffrage activism, from 1840 to 1920. She did her graduate work at SUNY at Albany, earning a master’s degree in Gender History and a doctorate in Public Policy History, with subfields in International Gender and Culture and Black Women’s Studies. She returned for a second master’s degree in Women’s Studies, focusing on transnational women’s movements. At SUNY Oneonta she teaches courses in Women’s History, New York State History, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Progressivism. Goodier has served as a public scholar for Humanities NY and continues to speak to audiences about black and white women and suffrage activism. The University of Illinois published her first book, No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement, in 2013. Her most recent book, Women Will Vote: Winning Suffrage in New York State (2017), coauthored with Karen Pastorello, helped mark the centennial of women voting in the state. Goodier’s current projects include a manuscript tentatively entitled, “Networks of Activism: Black Women in the New York Suffrage Movement,” and a biography of Louisa M. Jacobs, the daughter of Harriet Jacobs (author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl).

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

Not enough is known about the women of color who participated in the women’s suffrage movement. Further, knowing what white women did to agitate for the right to vote does not mean we know what black women did. With sincere gratitude to the most important national scholar of the African American women’s suffrage movement, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, this lecture focuses on the ways African American women worked for women’s enfranchisement in the state of New York. What emerges is a fascinating picture of the networks black women created in their effort to gain the right to vote.
“Sex and the Suffrage Movement” takes three distinct periods of the long women’s suffrage movement and examines the changing perspectives on women in the movement. During most of the nineteenth century, people considered women’s rights activists and suffragists “unsexed.” By the end of the century and in the early part of the twentieth century, most people found suffragists pretty and sexy “new women.” Then, as more audiences began taking suffragists seriously, the women of the anti-suffrage movement increasing saw suffragists as “sexual deviants,” expressing a kind of homophobia. This lecture seeks to highlight these attitudes as they relate to the resistance suffragists faced throughout seven decades of their movement.
This presentation, enhanced by many primary source cartoons and other visuals, seeks to understand the challenges faced by suffragists and anti-suffragists in their respective movements. Political cartoons often succinctly expressed the arguments for and against women’s enfranchisement. Cartoons highlight the criticisms suffragists and anti-suffragists faced from a fickle public, too often eager to deride both groups for their political activism.