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Grant number like: FZ-256626-17

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Kimberly A. Hamlin
Miami University (Oxford, OH 45056-1846)

Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 5/31/2019

Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener

A biography of Helen Hamilton Gardener (1853-1925), woman suffragist, lead negotiator to Congress and President Wilson on behalf of the movement for suffrage, and the first woman to occupy a high-ranking federal civil service position in the United States in the 1920s.

In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in 2020, Woman Citizen increases popular understanding of and appreciation for women's rights history by telling it through the eyes of Helen Hamilton Gardener. Gardener was the suffragists’ lead negotiator to Congress and President Woodrow Wilson, as well as the highest-ranking woman in federal government. However, she was purged from suffrage history as a result of her "freethinking" (atheist) beliefs and her campaign to raise the age of sexual consent for girls. Gardener’s dramatic life experiences together with her vital contributions to the women’s movement tell us much about both how the vote was won and why women worked so hard for it, making the project a good fit for the NEH Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square initiative. Woman Citizen provides historical context for ongoing debates about women in politics, and it encourages us to rethink the place of women in our collective national narrative.