INTO THE FRAY, SUFFRAGE AND THE (MALE) EDITORIAL ELITE
Joint Journalism and Communications Historians Conference –
NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute – New York City – 10 March 2018
It was an honor to be invited to talk “Suffrage and the (Male) Media Elite” to my colleagues and friends at the Joint Journalism & Communications Historians Conference, held, as it has been for about a decade now, at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, where I teach. The conference is the brainchild of Elliot King and ably orchestrated this year by Nick Hirshon of William Paterson University and Pamela Walck of Duquesne. Last year, I played Pamela’s role, or as Nick’s put it, was his “erstwhile work wife.”
It turns out that one of the conference presenters, Cynthia Meyers, an associate professor of communications at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx, is the great great (another great?) grandniece of James Lees Laidlaw, the national president of the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage. He’s my favorite suffragent and I’ve featured him in a number of the pieces I’ve written over the past year: here, here, here, here, and here. It’s almost impossible to talk Suffragents without Laidlaw, pictured here on horseback leading the way at suffrage’s November 1912 torchlight parade.
My speech was about the male editorial elite and their outsized engagement with the suffrage movement, both as individuals and in the publications they wrote for or controlled. It follows an essay (with links to source material) that I wrote last fall for the Gotham Center on New York City History “When the Media Elite Threw Their Fedoras Into the Ring for Women’s Rights.” Thank you James Berry and Adrian Mihai of NYU’s ace Broadcast/Tech team for videotaping the speech:
The meeting also afforded the opportunity to commune with my Suffrage and the Media colleagues Linda Steiner of the University of Maryland, Carolyn Kitch of Temple (who gave a great presentation this morning on “The Twinned Pasts of Journalism and Civil Rights: Assessing the Intersections of News Coverage and Public History” – and congratulations to all of today’s presenters!), and Vanessa Murphee of the University of Southern Mississippi. We, along with Jane Rhodes of the University of Illinois-Chicago; Kathy Roberts Forde of UMass; Jinx Broussard of LSU, Ford Risley of Penn State; Jane Marcellus of Middle Tennessee State (Tennessee is in suffrage centennial mode right now) and Linda Lumsden of Arizona. We are the force behind the database SuffrageandtheMedia.org and the forthcoming special issue of American Journalism: a journal of media history (April 2019) on this same topic. Watch for it and all the very cool things we plan to do around its publication.
Here’s the current home page (it changes frequently) of SuffrageandthemMedia.org:
For National History Day contestants. Upcoming — January 30: Iona College. February 4: Sagamore Hill. March 27: Ephemera Society of America. March 30: TBA April 4: Avon-on-Sea Public Library, Avon CT June 4-6: “Métiers et professions des médias (XVIIIe-XXIe siècles),” Université de Lausanne. Link to past appearances.
Coming March 2020: Front Pages, Front Lines: Media and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage, Linda Steiner, Carolyn Kitch, Brooke Kroeger, eds.