Ellen DuBois: women's suffrage scholar to lecture March 25


Reporter Staff

Ellen DuBois finds Los Angeles, her home for the past eight years, to be the 21st century counterpart of Buffalo, where she spent much of the '70s and '80s. A former UB faculty member who is a nationally-known scholar on the women's suffrage movement, DuBois will appear at UB later this month.

She will return to UB to deliver a lecture titled "What Difference Did Women's Suffrage Make Anyway?," on Monday, March 25 at 7 p.m. in 106 O'Brian Hall. Her lecture is part of Women's History Month observances sponsored by the UB Women's Studes Program.

"To me, Buffalo was very representative ethnically of the maturation of the populations of the late 19th and early 20th century," said DuBois, a former American Studies professor who is now a history professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, "but Los Angeles' ethnic mixture makes it the model 21st century city.

"I used to feel like I had to forgive Buffalo for being so poor, just as I had to forgive Los Angeles for being so rich," remarked DuBois of her adopted home on the West Coast. "But I remain vigilantly defensive about Buffalo's weather. It's simply not that bad!"

It was during DuBois' tenure at UB that Women's Studies grew into a widely recognized and accepted academic discipline across the country. Arriving at UCLA in 1988, DuBois found that the undergraduate Women's Studies program was not as developed as its UB counterpart, but that two graduate programs, a Women's Graduate Committee and the Center for the Study of Women, had thrived. The graduate committee hosts an annual conference on Women's Studies that attracts paper submissions from throughout the region.

"Women's Studies at UCLA has not had to face the constant administrative opposition that Buffalo's has," DuBois explained, "so it has been able to grow. UB's program has had to endlessly defend itself." Ironically, DuBois found that LA's "feminist community" was not as well developed as was Buffalo's in the late '80s.

Women's suffrage has long captivated DuBois academically. A graduate of Wellesley College (B.A. '68) and Northwestern University (Ph.D. '75), DuBois taught in the American Studies Department and the Women's Studies Program at UB from 1972 to 1988. Suffrage was the topic of her dissertation and has been nearly her exclusive area of research as a professional. "It is the subject on which the last round of women's history had stopped," she explained, "before the feminist movement of this century began."

DuBois has always had a keen interest in politics and suffrage was the "premier feminist movement of the 19th century." One of her works analyzes the similarities and conflicts of the post-Civil War suffrage and minority rights movements. She is about to publish another book examining the early years after women acquired the vote and the work of Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of famed suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Earlier books on women's suffrage include "The Origins of the American Women's Suffrage Movement" and "Political Writing of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony."

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