A Crowdsourcing Approach to Revitalizing Scholarship on Black Women Suffragists: A Revisionist Contribution to the Centennial of Woman Suffrage

Endorsed by the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE) and the Women and Social Movements in the U.S., 1600–2000

Friday, April 3, 2020, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Type: Panel Discussion

Tags: African American; Politics; Women's History


As we approach the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 2020, this session will examine the place of black women activists in the campaigns that contributed to woman suffrage. Five participants in constructing the “Black Women Suffragists” section of the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States will discuss their work on this project and place that work within the broader context of the evolving historiographies of the black freedom struggle and the woman suffrage movement.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: Thomas L. Dublin, Binghamton University, State University New York
Thomas Dublin is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Binghamton. In a career extending over more than four decades, his research and writing have focused on women's history and labor history. His first book, WOMEN AT WORK, a study of women workers in early cotton textiles mills of Lowell. was the recipient of the Bancroft Prize and the Merle Curti Award. He expanded his focus subsequently to women's work in New England more generally in TRANSFORMING WOMEN'S WORK. His last two books, THE FACE OF DECLINE and WHEN THE MINES CLOSED, explore deindustrialization in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania in the twentieth century.

Since 1997, Professor Dublin has co-edited the online database and journal, "Women and Social Movements in the United States," and two companion databases with an international focus. His current project, editing the ONLINE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF THE WOMAN SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES, builds on his interest in collective biography. By assembling biographical sketches permitting comparison of the lives and reform agendas of more than 3,500 white and black suffragists, and both militant and mainstream suffragists, this online resource will advance the possibilities for a social history of the woman suffrage movement.

Panelist: Maureen Elgersman Lee, Hampton University
Dr. Maureen Elgersman Lee is an Associate Professor of History at Hampton University. She holds a master’s degree in African and African-American Studies and a doctorate in Humanities, with a concentration in African-American Studies, both from Clark Atlanta University. At Hampton, Dr. Elgersman Lee teaches courses in African American, American social, women’s, Caribbean, and Canadian history.
Dr. Elgersman Lee is coauthor of Richmond’s Leigh Street Armory and African American Militia (History Press); author of Unyielding Spirits: Black Women and Slavery in Early Canada and Jamaica (Taylor and Francis), and author of Black Bangor: African Americans in a Maine Community, 1880-1950 (University Press of New England). For her work, Black Bangor, Dr. Elgersman Lee received the Leadership in History Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and the “Best of the Best of the University Presses—Outstanding Title” Award from the American Library Association (ALA). She is the author of several articles, including “Remembering Our Mothers: Black Women, Slavery, and Maternal Power in Barbados and Jamaica,” in Eric Montgomery, ed., Shackled Sentiments: Slaves, Spirits, and Memory in the African Diaspora (Lexington Books); “‘What They Lack in Numbers: Locating Black Portland, 1870-1930” in Joseph A. Conforti, ed., Creating Portland: History and Place in Northern New England (University Press of New England); and “Slavery in Early Canada: Making Black Women Subject,” in Mona Gleason and Adele Perry, ed., Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History, 5th ed. (Oxford University Press).

Panelist: Vivian Fisher, Enoch Pratt Free Library
Vivian Fisher is manager of the African American Department at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout her career she has researched and written about African Americans during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her main research focus is African America women during the antebellum period and her work appears in major African American reference resources. She was one of the primary researchers for topics that were include in the groundbreaking encyclopedia, Black Women in American: An Historical Encyclopedia (Carlson Publishing, 1993).

Panelist: Wanda A. Hendricks, University of South Carolina
Wanda A. Hendricks is Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of South Carolina. Her most recent publication, Fannie Barrier Williams: Crossing The Borders of Region and Race (University of Illinois Press, 2014) is the first biography of one of the most influential African American intellectuals and reformers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The book was awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Prize by the Association of Black Women Historians for the best book by a senior scholar in African American Women's History. She is also the author of Gender, Race, and Politics: Black Club Women In Illinois (Indiana University Press, 1998) and senior editor of the three volume Black Women In America: Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 2005).

The focus of her third book is Madie Beatrice Hall Xuma. A transnational study, the biography interrogates the ways in which a black educated American woman negotiated Jim Crow America, navigated the institutionalization of apartheid South Africa and traversed race, classed and gendered global geographies during the Cold War.

Panelist: Brandy Thomas Wells, Oklahoma State University
Brandy Thomas Wells is Assistant Professor of History at Oklahoma State University. She earned her doctoral degrees in history from The Ohio State University in 2015. She graduated  summa cum laude with a B.A.  in this same field from Paine College in 2008. She is currently preparing her first book, which analyzes African American women’s mainstream internationalism through a focus on the  National  Association  of  Colored Women  Club and  the  National  Council  of  Negro  Women and their affiliates.