Cathleen Cahill

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Cathleen Cahill

Cathleen Cahill

Walter L. Ferree and Helen P. Ferree Professor of Middle-American History and Acting Director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center

Celebrate every accomplishment. The work we do as scholars is often on a very long scaleit takes years to write a bookso celebrate every forward step, no matter how small.

Cathleen’s recent book, Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement, came out during the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment. She highlighted the suffrage activism of Black women, Asian American women, Native American women, and Latinas, whose contributions are rarely celebrated as part of that history.

“I see my research as addressing one of the key questions of our democracy—how has our nation lived up to its ideals of equality and justice for all? That is a noble goal that we have often failed to attain, but my work also reveals the inspiring stories of people who have fought hard to bring us closer to achieving it. I work to bring those stories to light in my classroom and to a wider public audience in order to demonstrate the vision of what our nation can be in the future.”

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Student Impact in the Classroom

“My favorite part of being an historian is heading into the archives to examine the stuff of history, the documents and materials produced by people in the past. I like to introduce my students to the excitement of witnessing the past as well as the methods of textual analysis by making sure they also engage with these sources. Every class I teach involves looking at primary sources in some waya visit to the Eberly Family Special Collections Library, reading historic maps or newspapers, or searching through Ancestry.com. A few years ago, for example, the librarians introduced me to a collection of suffrage posters from a 1915 Pennsylvania state suffrage referendum. Using them, I created an assignment for students to explore the history of women’s suffrage in Pennsylvania by creating museum labels for the posters. These posters were visually striking, and students learned about the issues that mattered to the women of Pennsylvania as well as how they made arguments specific to this state and how they compared with women suffragists from other states. At the end of the semester, we had an in-class exhibition of the posters and their labels, so that they were able to share the work they had done, but also learn from each other.” –Cathleen Cahill

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