Liette Gidlow

Liette Gidlow



313-577-6987 (fax)

3103 Faculty/Administration Building

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Liette Gidlow

Professor Gidlow is an expert on U.S. politics since the Civil War, especially woman suffrage and the Nineteenth Amendment, voting rights and voter turnout, and African American electoral politics. She 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 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 the woman suffrage amendment by establishing new norms of "expert citizenship" and "consumer citizenship"; and Obama, Clinton, Palin, a collection of essays by leading historians that explores the racial and gender dynamics of the historic 2008 presidential election.

Her next book, The Nineteenth Amendment and the Politics of Race, 1920-1970, uncovers connections between the woman suffrage amendment  of 1920 and the Black freedom movements of the 1950s and 1960s.

Prof. Gidlow was the 2019-2020 Mellon-Schlesinger Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her 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. 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 Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, the Colorado Historical Society, and elsewhere. Her research has been the subject of media reports in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, 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

“Woman Suffrage, Women’s Votes.” In A Companion to U.S. Women's History, eds. Nancy Hewitt and Anne Valk, 2e. (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020), 193-208.

“After the ‘Century of Struggle’: The Nineteenth Amendment, Southern African American Women, and the Problem of Female Disfranchisement After 1920.” In Suffrage at 100: Women in American Politics Since 1920, eds. Leandra Zarnow and Stacie Taranto (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020): 75-89.

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).

"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.

Select Public Scholarship and Press Notices

"Stacey Abrams Could Have as Much Impact on 2020 as Kamala Harris." Washington Post, 13 August 2020.

Johns Hopkins University Press. “What Difference Did the Nineteenth Amendment Make?” JHUPress Blog, 30 Sep. 2020.

Berry, Marie E. and Milli Lake. “When Quotas Come Up Short.” Boston Review, 14 Sep. 2020.

Farsighted Creative. “Waiting for Liberty Podcast: Stories of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.” Aug/Sep 2020.

Poe, Ryan and Isabel Lohman. “The 19th Amendment was Ratified 100 Years Ago — These 10 Women Changed Politics Since.” USA Today, 27 August 2020.

Adamy, Janet. “Trump Pardons Susan B. Anthony as Nation Marks 19th Amendment’s Centennial.” Wall Street Journal, 18 Aug. 2020.

Rainone, Cathy and Noreen O'Donnell. “‘For the Future Benefit of My Whole Race': How Black Women Fought for the Vote Before and After 19th Amendment.” NBC/Universal, 17 August 2020.

Jarvis, Jacob. “Obama Is Trashing Trump, Reigniting an Old Feud. Will it Backfire on Biden?” Newsweek, 5 August 2020.

Hesse, Monica. “Women’s Suffrage Was a Giant Leap for Democracy. We Haven’t Stuck the Landing Yet.“ Washington Post, 3 August 2020.

Gosselin, Janie. “Une Femme Pour la Vice-Présidence, Une Idée Qui Ne Date Pas d’Hier.” La Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 24 June 2020.

Green, Emma. “The Epic Political Battle Over the Legacy of the Suffragettes.” The Atlantic,
4 June 2019.

Staples, Brent. “When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy,” New York Times, 2 Feb. 2019.

"3 Strategies Today's Activist Women Share with Their Foremothers," op-ed published at, 26 Jan. 2018. 8,000+ views. 

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

Other qualifications directly relevant to courses taught

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

Courses taught by Liette Gidlow

Fall Term 2023 (future)

Winter Term 2023 (current)

Winter Term 2022

Fall Term 2021