Celebrating the Schlesinger

An unlikely musical about suffrage and a discussion mark the Library’s 75th anniversary.
Photo by Kevin GradyPhoto by Kevin Grady

In 1943, Radcliffe College accepted a donation of materials from Maud Wood Park, and the small archive documenting women’s suffrage became known as the Woman’s Rights Collection. Over the years, the collection expanded until, in 1965, it officially became a library named after the Harvard historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. and his wife, Elizabeth Bancroft Schlesinger. Now, 75 years since that first donation, the Schlesinger Library is known as the foremost repository of materials about the history of women in America. The Library planned a number of anniversary events to mark the occasion, culminating in a night of song and conversation.

This celebration featured a preview of music from The Suffragists, a musical in development by the New York–based songwriter and performer Shaina Taub, about the life of Alice Paul, a radical suffragist and the National Woman’s Party founder. The project, which captures the power and passion of American women’s fight for the vote, was incubated in the Schlesinger Library’s collections. 

Following the concert, Jane Kamensky BI ’97, RI ’07—the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger and the Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences—led a multidisciplinary panel discussion that featured Corinne T. Field, the 2018–2019 Mellon-Schlesinger Fellow at Radcliffe and an associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality at the University of Virginia; Carol Oja RI ’17, the William Powell Mason Professor of Music in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and Susan Ware AM ’73, PhD ’78, an advisory council member, the Honorary Women’s Suffrage Centennial Historian at the Schlesinger, and the editor of Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century.

Photo by Kevin GradyPhoto by Kevin Grady

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