Seminar: Debating Woman’s Place in America, 1860-1880
Sep 16 @ 5:30 pm – Oct 14 @ 5:30 pm

Flier for the seminar Debating a Woman's Place in America, 1860-1880

Three Sessions: Wednesdays

September 16, September 30 & October 14

5:30-7:00 p.m. est

Click Here to Register

The 19th Amendment forbids denying the right to vote on the basis of sex.  Yet its passage a century ago was less a definitive declaration of women’s equality than it was one episode in a longer history.  This seminar contextualizes this important anniversary by examining the 19th-century roots of foundational questions about gender roles: what can women do?  What should their roles in society be?  The Library Company’s collections illustrate the competing answers posed during the crucial decades of the 1860s and 1870s.  American women, both White and Black, shaped political conversations and public spaces in ways that were varied and complex, local and national, progressive and conservative – much like they do today.

Seminar Leader

Amy Sopcak Joseph

Amy Sopcak-Joseph is a historian of Early American gender and print culture.  In 2019, she defended her dissertation at the University of Connecticut and became an assistant professor at Wilkes University.  Her project, “Fashioning American Women: Godey’s Lady’s Book, Female Consumers, and Periodical Publishing in the Nineteenth Century,” examines the Lady’s Book’s intertwined histories as literary magazine, fashion rag, and material object.  This work was awarded the Zuckerman Prize in American Studies and has been supported by many institutions, including the Library Company; American Antiquarian Society; Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library; and the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute.  Prior to earning her PhD, Amy was the Education Coordinator at the American Antiquarian Society.

Dr. Sopcak-Joseph collaborated with Curator of Women’s History Cornelia King on the exhibition Women Get Things Done: Women’s Activism, 1860-1880 (launch date Sept. 22, 2020)


Seminar: John Dickinson and the Making of the U.S. Constitution, 1776-1788
Oct 21 @ 5:30 pm – Nov 18 @ 5:30 pm

Three Sessions: Wednesdays

October 21, November 4 & November 18

5:30-7:00 p.m. est

This seminar will consider the innovative contributions of John Dickinson to the creation of the United States Constitution through his work on the Articles of Confederation (1776), the Annapolis Convention (1786) that met to consider the shortcomings of the Articles, the ensuing Federal Convention (1787), and the debate over ratification (1788). As the only leading figure to contribute substantially to every phase of the American Founding beginning with the Stamp Act resistance, Dickinson also played a key role during the constitutional era. In a timely seminar led by Dr. Jane E. Calvert, chief editor of the John Dickinson Writings Project and Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, participants will explore drafts, notes, and essays, along with selected secondary source readings, to understand Dickinson’s contributions to the U.S. Constitution, reflecting on both what he offered and what his colleagues rejected.

About Dr. Jane E. Calvert 

Dr. Jane E. Calvert is founding director and chief editor of the John Dickinson Writings Project and Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky. Her publications on Dickinson include Quaker Constitutionalism and the Political Thought of John Dickinson and Volume One of The Complete Writings and Selected Correspondence of John Dickinson. She is currently writing a biography of him. Her work is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the State of Delaware, the Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, among others.