*New Book*

Suffrage and its Limits

Available September 1st, 2020, Suffrage and Its Limits: The New York Story offers a unique interdisciplinary overview of the legacy and limits of suffrage for the women of New York State. It commemorates the state suffrage centennial of 2017, yet arrives in time to contribute to celebrations around the national centennial of 2020. Bringing together scholars with a wide variety of research specialties, it initiates a timely dialogue that links an appreciation of accomplishments to a clearer understanding of present problems and an agenda for future progress. The first three chapters explore the state suffrage movement, the 1917 victory, and what New York women did with the vote. The next three chapters focus on the status of women and politics in New York today. The final three chapters take a prospective look at the limits of liberal feminism and its unfinished agenda for women’s equality in New York. A preface by Lieutenant Governor Katherine Hochul and a final chapter by activist Barbara Smith bookend the discussion. Combining diverse approaches and analyses, this collection enables readers to make connections between history, political science, public policy, sociology, philosophy, and activism. This study moves beyond merely celebrating the centennial to tackle women’s issues of today and tomorrow.

Suffrage and Its Limits: The New York Story, eds Kathleen Dowley, Susan Ingalls Lewis, Meg Devlin. Albany: SUNY Press, 2020.

Narrative of Research Interests

My academic position offers me the chance to work in history and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies with a focus on women and Native American nations. In teaching and in research, my perspective as an historian informs investigations of contemporary political issues and socio-cultural realities. Similarly, the theoretical frameworks that WGSS offers—including critiques of dominant paradigms and epistemologies—provides innovative ways to study the past. I appreciate how each field informs the work I do and enhances it.

Commencing with my own undergraduate studies, I have happily bifurcated myself between the discipline of history and the interdiscipline of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I doubled majored in history and women’s studies. I wrote an honors thesis under the direction of Jeanne Boydston that examined the cultural transformation of a white New England farm woman who spent the decade of the 1850s in the Cherokee Nation. This preliminary examination of Cherokee history positioned me well to study with Theda Perdue and Michael Green at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I completed my Ph.D. While at UNC, I produced a master’s thesis that looked at Cherokee cultural change and continuity during the early republic. For the dissertation, I crafted a project that combined my undergraduate degree in women’s studies with my subfield in women’s history and my major training in Native American history. 

My dissertation examined the political activism of Native American women during the 1970s. Building on scholarship that argued the struggle for reproductive freedom included the right to bear and raise children as well as prevent births, my research looked at the role Indigenous women played in arresting sterilization abuse and transforming the reproductive rights movement to one of reproductive justice. At the same time that Native women’s activism to end coercive sterilization informed the goals of the feminist movement, their reformation of adoption and foster care processes shaped the meaning of tribal sovereignty in the late twentieth century. The project describes not only the tangible achievements of these women in effecting federal regulations and legislation, but also their influence on mainstream American feminist ideology and Indian Country’s interpretation of women’s and children’s rights as sovereign ones.

When doing my research on Native American women and reproductive justice, I noticed an issue that ran through the primary documents and secondary sources: alcoholism. Women who presumably drank too much were likely targets for sterilization abuse; mothers whose consumption of alcohol hampered their ability to parent lost their children to the state; and Native women activists identified alcohol as a real problem in many of their communities. This focus on women and alcohol captured my attention—it emerged as one of the fundamental post-colonial issues that Native women negotiated—and thus something that I wanted to investigate further. Yet the real history about women and alcoholism is not solely about Indigenous women. It is about all American women. Indeed, historically, and to a lesser degree at present, representations of alcoholics have been gendered, classed, and racialized to project an image of certain types of substance abusers while rendering others invisible. My current research examines this largely untold history of women’s recovery from alcoholism in the United States. 

Scholarly Articles

“Ownership, Community, and Accomplishment in the History Seminar: The Possibilities of Undergraduate Research Conference Presentations.” Teaching History: A Journal of Methods. Vol. 43, No. 1, (2018): 36-48.

“Unlearning Introductions: Diversity, Denial, and Creating a Usable Past for the Intro Course.” Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Gender & Social Justice. Vol. 37, No. 2 (2016): 22-33

“Informing Red Power and Transforming the Second Wave: Indigenous Women and the Struggle against Coerced Sterilization in the 1970s.” Women’s History Review, Vol. 25, No. 6, (2016): 965-982.

“‘More Destruction to These Family Ties’: Native American Women, Child Welfare, and the Solution of Sovereignty.” The Journal of Family History. Vol. 41, No. 1, (2016): 19-38.

“Missionary and Mother: Jerusha Swain’s Transformatio1n in the Cherokee Nation, 1851-1862.” The Chronicles of Oklahoma. Vol. 83, No. 4, (2005-06): 452-465.                                          

“A Family Affair: Cherokee Conversion to Christianity: American Board Missions, 1817-1835.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Vol. 64, No. 4, (2005): 264-283. Available via JSTOR.

Book Chapters

“‘Engaged in the Struggle for Liberation as They See It’: Indigenous Southeastern Women and International Women’s Year.” In The Native South: New Histories and Enduring Legacies, eds. Tim Alan Garrison and Greg O’Brien. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.

Book Reviews

Review. Ned Christie: The Creation of an Outlaw and a Cherokee Hero. Devon Mihesuah. The Journal of Southern History. May 2019.

Review.  Indians in the Family: Adoption and the Politics of Expansion. Dawn Peterson. H-NET Reviews. June 2018.

Review. An Act of Genocide: Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women. Karen Stote. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies. 2016.

Review. A Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the  Postwar World. Margaret D. Jacobs. Pacific Historical Review. 2015.

Review. Keeping the Circle. Christopher Arris Oakley. H-Amindian. 2006.

Review. Creek Country. Robbie Etheridge. Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Winter 2005. Available via JSTOR.

Review. James Anderson Solver, Minister to the Cherokees: War Autobiography.  Barbara Cloud, ed. Civil War History. Fall 2003.

Encyclopedia Essays & Entries

“Women and Alcohol in the Modern United States.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. Research encyclopedia essay. 2020.  

“Biography of Blackhawk.” Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment. Alexander Street Press 2004.