Four Scholars Receive $2,500 Fellowships from Indiana Humanities to Reveal Untold Stories of Hoosier Women in politics Including Bloomington Scholar

(UNDATED) – Indiana Humanities has awarded research fellowships to four Hoosier scholars from Bloomington to South Bend to examine and unearth new stories about Indiana women’s participation in local, state and national politics in advance of the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.

The May Wright Sewall Fellowships, named after one of Indiana’s most significant suffrage activists, commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020 by illuminating the accomplishments and difficulties women of different backgrounds and means faced politically before, during and after 1920.

Keira Amstutz, president, and CEO of Indiana Humanities

“While Indiana’s suffrage story is unique in many ways, and though Indiana women were active in the national movement, scholarship on Hoosier women lags,” said Keira Amstutz, president, and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “The centennial of women earning the right to vote is an appropriate occasion to document and share these forgotten stories. We are proud to support four scholars who will add to our understanding of how Indiana women shaped politics.”

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, chair of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, applauded the fellowships and other efforts to bring meaningful Hoosier perspectives to the suffrage commemoration.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, chair of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission

“This work will help Indiana create a legacy that elevates and brings the Hoosier suffragist movement to the forefront of our history,” Crouch said. “I cannot wait to learn more about the Hoosiers who played a pivotal role in this movement. Their stories won’t be untold for long.”

Amstutz also is a member of the suffrage centennial commission.

The May Wright Sewall Fellowships are part of a wider effort with the Indianapolis Propylaeum, the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau to create resources and programming for the suffrage centennial. The activities have received support from Lilly Endowment, Inc. and Hillenbrand, Inc.

A new traveling exhibit and a speakers bureau are among the other components of the group’s work. Eleven talks, ranging from the role of working-class women in the suffrage movement to the status of women in elected office today, are available to be booked for events in 2020. Interested organizations can peruse the available talks and book a speaker at http://indianasuffrage100.org/resources/. The deadline to apply to host a speaker is Nov. 1. The website also includes information about how to book the exhibit.

For the research fellowships, Indiana Humanities has awarded $2,500 each to:

Hilary Fleck, collections manager for the Monroe County History Center. 

Hilary Fleck, collections manager for the Monroe County History Center. She will research the suffrage movement in Monroe County and the surrounding area, including visits by prominent national leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and May Wright Sewall.

Anita Morgan, senior lecturer of history at IUPUI

Anita Morgan, senior lecturer of history at IUPUI. Her research will focus on the African American women’s suffrage organizations in Indiana, particularly Indianapolis’s Branch No. 7 of the Equal Suffrage Association of Indiana. Its founders included F.B. Ransom, Madam C.J. Walker, and Carrie Barnes.

Jamie Wagman, associate professor and chair of history and gender and women’s studies at Saint Mary’s College.

Jamie Wagman, associate professor and chair of history and gender and women’s studies at Saint Mary’s College. She will research South Bend suffragists, with particular focus on Annie Bell Boss, Emma Barrett Molloy and Alice Mannering, the first woman in Indiana to run for mayor.

Laura Merrifield Wilson, assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis.

Laura Merrifield Wilson, assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis. Her research will focus on the life and career of Harriette Bailey Conn, the first African American woman to graduate from the IUPUI School of Law and the first African American Republican woman elected to the Indiana General Assembly in 1966.

Leah Nahmias, director of programs and community engagement at Indiana Humanities, said the organization doesn’t normally fund research grants but found strong reasons to do so for the suffrage centennial.

Leah Nahmias, director of programs and community engagement at Indiana Humanities

“There’s a scarcity of existing research on women’s political participation in Indiana, and we didn’t want our programming in this area to focus just on the national suffrage movement,” Nahmias said. “Believing that excellent public humanities programming relies on quality scholarship, we saw a real opportunity to fund research as part of the commemoration in a way that might catalyze future scholarship and programming on Hoosier women in politics.”

For more information about the fellows’ research projects and their academic backgrounds, go to http://indianasuffrage100.org/news/.

About the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial
The Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial will commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in 2020. The effort is catalyzed by Indiana Humanities and in partnership with a statewide network of women’s and history organizations. Learn more at www.IndianaSuffrage100.org.

About Indiana Humanities
Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. Learn more at www.IndianaHumanities.org.

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