Conferences

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2020 Conrad E. Wright Research Conference - Now Virtual!

“Shall Not Be Denied”: The 15th and 19th Amendments at the Sesquicentennial and Centennial of their Ratifications, October 12-16, 2020


Registration opens in August!

As a result of ongoing public health concerns, the Massachusetts Historical Society has altered its original plan for an in-person conference in October 2020. Rather than meeting for two days of sessions, we will host the conference panels online between Monday, 12 October and Friday, 16 October 2020. The originally scheduled keynote panel will be postponed until it is safe to hold the event in person at the MHS.

Download Conference Schedule

The year 2020 marks the anniversaries of two critical amendments to the United States Constitution. Spaced fifty years apart, the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments, ratified in 1870 and 1920, respectively, prohibited the use of race or sex to deny American citizens the franchise. However, the amendments did not prevent states from adopting other methods of discrimination. Viewed as the product of two different movements—abolitionism and the Civil War on the one hand and the Progressive campaigns and the First World War on the other—these two periods and amendments are not often considered together. This conference revisits the long journey to secure voting rights for African Americans and women in United States history. It considers the legal precedents and hurdles that each amendment faced, the meaning and uneven outcomes of each, the social context that allowed for ultimate ratification, the role of key individuals and groups in these respective contexts, and how each amendment has been remembered over time.

At a later date, a keynote panel will feature feature Profs. Alison M. Parker (University of Delaware) and Lisa Tetrault (Carnegie Mellon University) and will be moderated by Prof. Alex Keyssar (Harvard).

 

Conference Publications

Since its first conference volume on American Unitarianism, issued in 1989, the MHS has made the scholarship developed through its conferences widely and permanently available to the field.

The MHS publication series Studies in American History and Culture comprises many of these volumes. More recently, MHS conference volumes published by other presses have given our conference scholarship an even wider reach. Peruse these essay collections.