Liette Gidlow

Liette Gidlow

Associate Professor


313-577-6987 (fax)

3103 Faculty/Administration Building

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Liette Gidlow

Liette Gidlow earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Cornell University, a master's degree in history from Ohio State, and a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Chicago. Before joining academe she worked as a legislative staffer in the U.S. Congress and as chief of staff to a member of the Ohio Senate.

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Modern U.S. politics

  • Women's/gender history

  • African American politics


Prof. Gidlow is the 2019-2020 Mellon-Schlesinger Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, where she is participating in the Long Nineteenth Amendment Project at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. 

A specialist in twentieth century politics and women's and gender history, she has published two books: The Big Vote, which analyzes how massive, non-partisan voter turnout campaigns in the 1920s helped to contain the radical potential of woman suffrage by establishing new norms of "expert citizenship" and "consumer citizenship"; and Obama, Clinton, Palin, a collection of essays by top-ranking historians that takes the long view on the historic 2008 presidential election.

Her next book, The Nineteenth Amendment and the Politics of Race, 1920-1970, uncovers connections between the Nineteenth Amendment of 1920 and the Black freedom movements of the 1950s and 1960s, thus bringing into conversation two historical narratives that previously have been treated separately.

Professor Gidlow’s research has won the support of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and four presidential libraries.  Between 2004 and 2007, she spearheaded a $1 million grant project from the U.S. Department of Education to improve K-12 history teaching in northwest Ohio. Her teaching has been featured on C-SPAN's "Lectures in History" series, and in 2019 she was awarded Wayne State's Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has presented scholarly and public talks on U.S. politics, woman suffrage, and race at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, the University of Missouri, the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, the Colorado Historical Society, and elsewhere.


  • Ph.D., Cornell University
  • M.A., Ohio State University
  • A.B., University of Chicago

Awards and grants

  • Mellon-Schlesinger Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University, 2019-2020

  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2014

  • Wayne State University Presidential Research Enhancement Grant, 2012-2014

  • Co-Principal Investigator with Scott Martin, U.S. Department of Education, Teaching American History K-12 Education Grant, 2004-2007

  • Berkshire Conference Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University, 1999

Selected publications


OBAMA, CLINTON, PALIN: MAKING HISTORY IN ELECTION 2008 (U. Illinois Press, 2012) at A Choice recommended title.

THE BIG VOTE: GENDER, CONSUMER CULTURE, AND THE POLITICS OF EXCLUSION, 1890s-1920s (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) at

Select Peer-Reviewed Articles/Chapters

Guest editor, Journal of Women's History, special forum on “What Difference Did the Nineteenth Amendment Make?,” vol. 32, no.1 (Spring 2020).

“More than Double: African American Women and the Rise of a Women’s Vote.” Journal of Women’s History, vol. 32 no. 1 (Spring 2020).

“Forum: Interchange – Women’s Suffrage, the Nineteenth Amendment, and the Right to Vote.” Journal of American History, vol. 106, no. 3 (Dec. 2019), 662-94.

“A Crack in the Edifice of White Supremacy.” Modern American History, vol. 2, no. 3 (Nov. 2019).

"Beyond 1920: Legacies of the Woman Suffrage Movement." In Tamara Gaskell, ed., THE NINETEENTH AMENDMENT AND WOMEN'S ACCESS TO THE VOTE ACROSS AMERICA (Washington, D.C.:  U.S. National Park Service, 2019).  

"The Sequel: The Fifteenth Amendment, the Nineteenth Amendment, and Southern Black Women's Struggle to Vote, 1890s-1920s." Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, vol. 17, no. 3 (July 2018).

"Resistance after Ratification: The Nineteenth Amendment, African American Women, and the Problem of Female Disfranchisement after 1920." Women and Social Movements in the U.S., 1600-2000 21 (March 2017).

"The Michigan Women’s Commission and the Struggle Against Sex Discrimination in the 1970s." In The History of Michigan Law, eds. Paul Finkelman and Martin Hershock (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006). Winner of the Historical Society of Michigan's 2006 State History Award; designated a 2007 Michigan Notable Book.

"Delegitimizing Democracy: 'Civic Slackers,' the Cultural Turn, and the Possibilities of Politics." Journal of American History 89 (December 2002): 922-957.

Public Scholarship

"3 Strategies Today's Activist Women Share with Their Foremothers," op-ed published at, 26 Jan. 2018. 5,000+ views.

"Some People Still Think It Was a Mistake to Give Black People the Right to Vote," History News Network, 25 Jan. 2018.

"We Must Protect Voting Rights." Detroit News, 14 Jan. 2018,

Currently teaching

  • On research leave for 2019-2020

Other qualifications directly relevant to courses taught

Wayne State University President's Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2019