The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920. It states: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Our featured book and author is:

“Free thinker: sex, suffrage, and the extraordinary life of Helen Hamilton Gardener” by Kimberly A. Hamlin.

Description from our catalog:

“How one “fallen woman” battled religious ideology, pseudoscience, and political resistance to women’s right to vote. Exposed in Ohio newspapers for an affair with a married man, Alice Chenowyth refused to cower in shame. Instead she changed her name to Helen Hamilton Gardener, moved to New York, pretended to be married to her lover, and became a wildly popular lecturer and author, brazenly opposed to sexist piety and propriety. The “Harriet Beecher Stowe of Fallen Women,” she supported raising the age of sexual consent for girls (from twelve or younger), decried double standards of sexual morality, and debunked scientists’ claims that women’s brains were inferior. With liberal doses of feminine charm, Gardner networked tirelessly to persuade Woodrow Wilson and other male politicians to support the Nineteenth Amendment. Her effort, according to suffrage leader Carrie Pitt, was “the most potent factor” in its passage. As more women enter politics than ever before, Kimberly A. Hamlin recovers the wildly entertaining and illuminating life of a brilliant, effective woman-all but forgotten-who paved the way”–

Biography from Amazon:

“Kimberly A. Hamlin is a historian who writes about women, gender, science, and medicine in the U.S. A recent recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Public Scholar Award, she has just completed Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener (forthcoming March 2020, from W.W. Norton). Free Thinker tells the remarkable story of the “fallen woman” who reinvented herself, became one of the most sought-after speakers in 19th-century America, and then charmed her way into the Wilson White House and steered the 19th Amendment through Congress. When she died, Helen Hamilton Gardener was the highest-ranking woman in federal government and a national symbol of female citizenship. Free Thinker unearths Gardener’s incredible journey and centers both sex and race in women’s long struggle to attain the vote.”

Kimberly is the daughter of Ray and Kay Hamlin who are active in community life in Ogunquit Maine.

Click here to find this book in our catalog. “Free Thinker” is in our New Biography section. The call number is BIO GAR HAM.

Click here for more about the 19th Amendment.

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