Voices of HerStory

In honor of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, Voices of HerStory was a series of online lectures and performances exploring diverse perspectives on the women's suffrage movement and its continuing legacy today.

Presentations and performances were recorded and are available for viewing through the Albany Institute's YouTube channel.

Black Suffragists' Campaign for Racial and Gender Justice

This performance debuted on August 19, 2020.

Dr. Alison M. Parker, Chair & Richards Professor of American History at the University of Delaware

Watch the recorded presentation here

Asserting their right to be full citizens, to vote, and to be treated with respect, Black women suffragists emphasized the intersections of racism and sexism in their lives. For suffragist Mary Church Terrell and other Black women, the struggle for the vote must include protecting the citizenship rights of Black men who were being disenfranchised throughout the South. Black suffragists linked women’s voting rights to improved civil rights for all, faced indifference and racism within the white woman suffrage movement, but pressed ahead with their calls for full equality without regard to race or gender.

Alison M. Parker is Chair & Richards Professor of American History at the University of Delaware. She has research and teaching interests in women’s and gender history, African American history, and legal history. In 2017-2018, Parker was an Andrew W. Mellon Advanced Fellow at the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. Her book, Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell is forthcoming (December 2020) from the University of North Carolina Press, in its John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture. Among other publications, Parker is the author of two monographs, Articulating Rights: Nineteenth-Century American Women on Race, Reform, and the State (2010)and Purifying America: Women, Cultural Reform, and Pro-Censorship Activism, 1873-1933 (1997). She also serves as the founding editor of the Gender and Race in American History book series for the University of Rochester Press. As Chair of the History Department at the University of Delaware, Parker is committed to helping to build a coalition of students, faculty, and staff promoting a wide-ranging anti-racism agenda.

Fighting Shirley: A Re-enactment of Shirley Chisholm

This performance debuted on August 25, 2020.

D. Colin, a poet, performer, visual artist and educator

Watch recorded presentation here

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman to be elected to Congress and the first woman and African American to seek nomination for President of the United States. This reenactment, performed by D. Colin, tells the story of Chisholm's rise in politics, her unwavering resolve and her vision for the future. The performance was followed by a Q & A with D. Colin as Shirley Chisholm.

About D. Colin: Originally from Bridgeport, CT, D. Colin is a poet, performer, visual artist and educator living in Troy, NY. She is the author of two poetry collections, Dreaming in Kreyol and Said the Swing to the Hoop as well as a Cave Canem, VONA and New York State Writers Institute fellow. She is the host and curator for the weekly poetry open mic, Poetic Vibe. D. Colin has also been involved with community theater since 2009 writing and acting with Black Theater Troupe of Upstate NY, Sandglass Theater, and Creative Action Unlimited among others. Her own original play, Simone, debuted at Capital Rep Theater in 2019 and she has received the League of Women Voters Presidential Award for her reenactments of Sojourner Truth. 

Women Voted Here -- Before Columbus

This performance debuted on August 25, 2020.

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, Founder and Executive Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue in Fayetteville, New York.

Watch the recorded presentation here

Imagine that women have the right to choose all political representatives, removing from office anyone who doesn’t make wise decisions for the future. Living in a world free from violence against them, women will not allow a man to hold office if he has violated a woman. Economically independent, they have the final say in matters of war and peace and the absolute right to their own bodies. 

This is not a dream. Haudenosaunee (traditional Iroquois) women have had this authority – and more -- since long before Christopher Columbus. 

While white women were the property of their husbands and considered dead in the law, Haudenosaunee women had more authority and status before Columbus than United States women have today.

Women of the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy (the Haudenosaunee) had the responsibility for putting in place the male leaders. They had control of their own bodies and were economically independent. Rape and wife beating were rare and dealt with harshly; committing violence against a woman kept a man from becoming Chief in this egalitarian, gender-balanced society. 

When women in New York State began to organize for their rights in 1848, they took their cue from the nearby Haudenosaunee communities, where women lived in the world that non-native women dreamed. 

Amazingly, despite the assimilation policy of the United States, Haudenosaunee women still maintain much of this authority today. 

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner received one of the first doctorates awarded in the country for work in women's studies and is a founder of one of the nation's first college women's studies programs. An Adjunct Professor in the Syracuse University Honors Program, she has taught and written about women’s history for 50 years. The Executive Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, she edited The Women’s Suffrage Movement anthology for Penguin Classics, (2019). Selected as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s E-News in 2015, Dr. Wagner serves on the New York Suffrage Centennial Commission.  

Celebrating 100 Years of the Vote

This performance debuted on August 26, 2020.

Musicians of Ma’alwyck

Watch the recorded performance here

Musicians of Ma'alwyck performs a musical tribute to the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment with music drawn from the suffrage movement as well as works of female composers active in the cause. The program features suffrage hymns, arias from the suffrage opera "Aleda, or the Flight of the Suff Bird Women," and music of Dame Ethel Smyth, an important British women's suffrage activist. Performers are Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, Director and Violin; Norman Thibodeau, Flute; Tess McCarthy, Mezzo-soprano; and Max Caplan, Piano and composer of Aleda. 

Voices of HerStory: A Conversation with Elizabeth Cady Stanton

This performance debuted on August 27, 2020.

Dr. Melinda Grube, adjunct lecturer of history at Cayuga Community College and re-enactor

Watch the recorded presentation here

Known as a founder of the women's rights movement for her work organizing the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton is celebrated as a hero for women's equality. Stanton dedicated over 50 years of her life leading the fight to secure women's rights to vote, own property, attend college, and more. Her legacy is also complicated by the way she handled the issue of race in the women's suffrage movement. In this program Mary Berry, 1st Vice President of the League of Women Voters interviews Dr. Melinda Grube as Elizabeth Cady Stanton discussing her life and work as a suffragist and freethinker, her life growing up in the Capital Region, and the relationships she had with Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. The presentation was followed by a discussion facilitated by Dr. Grube as Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Melinda Grube, PhD, a descendant of a Seneca Falls abolitionist family, has followed an educational path inspired by women’s rights history. Dr. Grube is an adjunct lecturer of history at Cayuga Community College and has portrayed Elizabeth Cady Stanton for educational programs, lectures, and events in Seneca Falls and throughout New York State for more than a decade.


These programs were funded in part by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

We thank the League of Women Voters of Albany County for their support.