Center for Women's History
Explore women's history through exhibitions, programs, scholarship, and immersive multimedia.
About the center
Our Center for Women’s History is the first of its kind in the nation within the walls of a major museum. At the Center, we explore the lives and legacies of women who have shaped and continue to shape the American experience. As a hub for scholarship and education, the Center demonstrates how women across the spectrum of race, class, and sexuality exercised power and effected change. Guided by a committee of distinguished historians and informed by the latest research, the Center features permanent installations, temporary exhibitions, and a vibrant array of talks and programs, enriching the cultural landscape of New York City and creating new opportunities for historical discovery.
"Miss Rose Bower of North Dakota" Woman playing trumpet, wearing "Votes for Women" sash. Gelatin Silver Photograph, New-York Historical Society.
Major funding for the Center for Women's History programs provided by
The Estate of Jean Dubinsky Appleton
Claudine and Fred Bacher
James Basker and Angela Vallot
Joyce B. Cowin
Diana and Joseph DiMenna
Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation
Richard Gilder and Lois Chiles
Susan and Roger Hertog
Susan and Robert Klein
The Leonard & Judy Lauder Fund
Diane and Adam E. Max
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Jennifer and John Monsky
Amanda and Neal Moszkowski
Jean Margo Reid
Pan and Scott Schafler
Eric J. and Daria L. Wallach
Leah and Michael R. Weisberg
Public funding for the Center for Women’s History
The New York City Council
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Empire State Development and I Love New York under
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Development Council Initiative
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Women’s History Salon series "A discussion of women in journalism in the 21st century." Irin Carmon and Joy-Ann Reid - November 28, 2017.
Photo: Sean Turi
Guided by its committee of expert scholars, the Center for Women’s History presents a full calendar of public events. Join us for exciting programs and intimate conversations with scholars, journalists, artists, writers, businesswomen, and more amazing leaders of today.
Lead support for the Center for Women's History programs provided by Joyce B. Cowin, Diane and Adam E Max, Jean Margo Reid, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Expanding Life's Frame: Six Women Photographers
Friday, September 13, 7 PM, Tech Commons
For decades, Americans saw the world through the lens of LIFE magazine’s photographers, including the groundbreaking women featured in our exhibition LIFE: Six Women Photographers. How did these pioneers help shape photojournalism? Join exhibition co-curator Sarah Gordon for a wide-ranging conversation on with photography scholars Wendy Kozol of Oberlin College and Dolores Flamiano of James Madison University. Buy Tickets >
Household Gods and Political Agents: The Adams Women, Faith, and Politics
Friday, September 20, 6 PM, Skylight Gallery
First Ladies Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams were political forces in their own right in the 18th and 19th centuries. Join us for a conversation about their colorful journeys, and take a closer look at how they relied upon—and reinvented—their Christian religion to help them navigate tumultuous periods in the American republic. Buy Tickets >
Imitation of Life: Photography and Documentary
Wednesday, July 31, 5:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
For decades, Americans saw the world through the lens of the photographers at LIFE magazine, and our new exhibition, LIFE: Six Women Photographers, explores the work of the groundbreaking women who helped create that worldview.
Oral History, Women's Work, and the ILGWU's Role in Immigration Reform
Friday, June 21, 6:30 PM, Tech Commons
With the creation of its Immigration Project in 1983, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) became the first union to create a program to advocate for immigrant workers. This Center for Women’s History salon will present oral history excerpts and discuss the role of women in assisting with legalization and providing classes to empower formerly undocumented workers
We’re Still Here: Growing Older Together with the Lesbian Herstory Archives
Thursday, June 13, 6:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
Join some of the remarkable activists behind the Lesbian Herstory Archives, the world’s largest collection of materials about and by lesbians. Co-founder Deborah Edel and coordinators Paula Grant and Maxine Wolfe will discuss the founding of the Archives, the growth of its unique collections, and the community effort that funded the Archives' building in Brooklyn.
Reconfiguring the Past
Friday, May 31, 6:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
Join distinguished historian Nell Painter and chief historian and director of the Center for Women’s History Valerie Paley, for a conversation about Painter's journey about her own practice and the intersection of art and history.
Celebrate Mother’s Day by Celebrating Midwifery
Friday, May 10, 6:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
Midwifery has been a vital female profession for thousands of years, and has faced periods of both marginalization and revitalization. Join us for a conversation with nurse-midwife Patricia Loftman, midwife Paulomi “Mimi” Niles, and N-YHS curatorial scholar in women's history Sarah Gordon as we discuss the history of midwifery in New York, United States, and the world.
#MuseumsToo: How Museums and Cultural Institutions Can Best Support Women's Stories
Wednesday, May 8, 6:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, women around the globe are breaking the rules—both by speaking out about their experiences and insisting that they are accurately preserved for posterity. Panelists will share their experiences overturning the traditional narratives and amplifying the voices of survivors. They’ll also compare strategies for creating effective platforms for women for generations to come.
Women in Hudson Conservation
Wednesday, April 24, 6:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
Women have been key participants in Hudson River conservation efforts since the 19th century, but their role has been largely forgotten. Join Jeanne Haffner, Frances F. Dunwell, and Cara Lee to recall the female foresters, community organizers, activists, and environmental scientists who shaped the river’s history and continue to impact its present and future.
Ladies' Garments, Women's Work, Women's Activism: Garment Work and Women's Organizing in New York City
Friday, March 29, 6:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
In honor of Women’s History Month—and the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911—the Center for Women’s History welcomes scholars Alice Kessler-Harris, Margaret M. Chin, and Janette Gayle to discuss the ILGWU’s impact on the labor movement and women’s movements, moderated by New-York Historical’s Nick Juravich.
The Woman Suffrage Movement and the Continuing Fight for Women's Equality
Wednesday, March 27, 6:30 PM, Dexter Hall
Join Marjorie Spruill, historian of woman suffrage, and Judaline Cassidy, tradeswoman activist, in conversation with Lynn Sherr, award-winning broadcaster and author, as they consider the women’s movement from the 19th- and early 20th-centuries and the long journey towards full equality.
Labor and the Black Body: The Slave Ship Icon in the Work of Betye Saar
Friday, March 15, 6:30 pm, Skylight Gallery
The washboard assemblages of Betye Saar—currently on view in our exhibition Betye Saar: Keepin' It Clean—feature several recurring themes and images from African American history. Among these is the iconic print of the slave ship Brookes, first circulated by British abolitionists in 1788 and now recognized worldwide as symbol of the barbaric reality of slavery.
All the Single Ladies: “Women’s Only" Buildings in Early 20th c. New York
Wednesday, March 13, 5:30 pm, Skylight Gallery
Join historian Nina Harkrader for a discussion of "all the single ladies" who bravely forged new paths for women in early 20th-century New York City. We'll explore the women-only homes designed to offer "good moral surroundings" for young ladies, the hotels that provided independence and ladylike comforts for “business women,” and a taste of what it might have been like to make one's way through New York City in the heady, early years of the 1900s.
Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence
Wednesday, February 27, 5:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
The new book Force and Freedom is the first historical analysis exclusively focused on the tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists. It examines one of the perennial questions in political thought: Is violence a valid means of producing social change? Historian Kellie Carter Jackson, assistant professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, addresses how black abolitionists answered this question. Steven Hahn, professor of history at New York University, joins Dr. Jackson in conversation about this important new work
Hearing History Live and Out Loud
Friday, February 22, 7 pm, Dexter Hall
Inspired by the Big Band Era of Jazz, Dandy Wellington and His Band have taken the sounds of the 1930s and ‘40s and created a world of well-dressed music. The program will feature the songs associated with women who have contributed incredible music, perspective, and performances to Jazz and the black American experience.
The Furies: Women's Rage, Women's Power
Wednesday, January 23, 6:30 PM, Auditorium
Two of America's most important feminist voices have written books grappling with the power of women's anger. Brittney Cooper's Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower and Rebecca Traister's Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger take women's fury seriously as a political response and force for change. They place women's rage in historical context, and show how such anger has been trivialized or weaponized to undermine women. Join us for a lively conversation as Cooper and Traister discuss women's anger with New York magazine senior correspondent and CNN contributor Irin Carmon.
Black Women Artists and Curators in New York City
Friday, January 18, 6:30 PM, Skylight Gallery
In November, the Center for Women's History opened Betye Saar: Keepin' It Clean in the Joyce B. Cowin Women's History Gallery amid a remarkable outpouring of black women's creative labor in New York City. Meanwhile, also on view at New-York Historical, Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow tells many of the historical stories that Saar's artwork interrogates. At the Brooklyn Museum, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power features Saar's work alongside that of her contemporaries in the Black Arts Movement. And at Columbia's Wallach gallery, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet to Matisse to Today explores the changing modes of representation of the black figure as central to the development of modern art.
Underground History: Celebrating the Centennial of the Field Exploration Committee and the Dawn of Historical Archaeology of New York City
Thursday, December 6, 6:30 pm, Skylight Gallery
How do scholars uncover the history of New York City? In the 1890s, a few intrepid individuals left the library and started digging. William Calver, Reginald Pelham Bolton, and their colleagues were among the first to explore New York’s archaeological record, excavating native villages and Revolutionary War encampments. Join Dr. William J. Parry, professor of anthropology at Hunter College, and Dr. Joan H. Geismar, PANYC president, join Dr. Valerie Paley, vice president and chief historian and director of the Center for Women's History, for a conversation on the legacy of the the Field Exploration Committee (FEC), which profoundly shaped the practice of urban archaeology.
Female Remedies and Wicked Women: Reproductive Health in 19th-Century New York
Friday, November 16, 6:30 pm, Dexter Hall
How did New York women manage their reproductive health in the 19th century? They could seek out patent medicines promising “relief” for everything from crying children to pregnancy itself—but who knew what was inside these bottles? Abortion was outlawed in the middle of the century, but some women doctors and midwives dared to provide it, including Ann Trow Lohman (AKA Madame Restell), whom authorities labeled the “wickedest woman” in New York. What can this history teach us about the importance of equitable access to reproductive health today? Join playwright Jessica Bashline, author of Wickedest Woman, and Dr. Ana Cepin of Physicians for Reproductive Health, in conversation with curator Sarah Gordon of the Center for Women’s History for a discussion on reproductive health in New York City, past and present.
Spicy Talk: The Dish on 7 Decades of Food in New York City
Wednesday, October 24, 7 pm, Dexter Hall
How did the city’s restaurants evolve from eating dens to dining establishments—and from fads to fabulous? Chef Angie Mar, restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton, and former Food and Wine editor Dana Cowin join us for a robust conversation about New York restaurants—then and now—and discuss their unlikely friendship and lessons about amazing food. Angie Mar is the lauded chef of the Beatrice Inn, the edgy, underground Greenwich Village chophouse and former Prohibition-era speakeasy. Award-winning author and legendary food columnist Mimi Sheraton was the first female restaurant critic for the New York Times in the 1970s and ‘80s. Moderator Dana Cowin, former long-time editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine, is the chief creative officer at Chefs Club International and the creative mind behind the food radio program, Speaking Broadly.
Collecting Shoes: An Obsession
September 26, 6:30 pm, Dexter Hall
Everyone on the planet—with few exceptions—wears something to protect the skin of the foot from the crust of the earth. Yet the humble shoe also can be an object of desire, display, and deliberation. In conjunction with our exhibition Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, designer Stuart Weitzman and philanthropist Jane Gershon Weitzman discuss what shoes can mean and how they as a couple came to amass a substantial historic collection.
They All Dressed for Bill (Cunningham)
September 7, 6:30 pm, Dexter Hall
Using his camera as a notebook, legendary New York Times style photographer Bill Cunningham (1929–2016) became one of the most influential authorities of style and society of his time. With the scrutiny of an anthropologist in the field, he let the streets “speak” to him as he gathered visual data on how fashions mirrored the times. For years, John Kurdewan, Cunningham’s long-time collaborator and friend, crafted the photographer’s images into iconic layouts for the newspaper, while the Times’ Style section editor and writer Joanna Nikas edited the popular “On the Street” videos, which featured Bill’s inimitable voice. Join them in conversation with Center for Women's History director Valerie Paley as they share anecdotes about the beloved photographer’s process and vision.
Center for Women's History Salon with Samantha Bee and Irin Carmon
June 25, 7 pm, Dexter Hall
Join us for a riveting discussion from two of current media's most enthralling (and entertaining) minds. Emmy-winning journalist and comedian Samantha Bee joins author and journalist Irin Carmon to discuss women, politics, and the media today. Samantha Bee is the host of the weekly late night Emmy-winning comedy series Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Irin Carmon is a journalist and author of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Sob Sisters and Life Coaches
April 10, 7 – 8 pm, Skylight Gallery
Professional advice-givers have been answering Americans' thorniest, most intimate questions since before the nation was founded. Women came to prominence in the field partly in reaction to the emotional conservatism of the 19th century. Apart from giving advice, they were also generous purveyors of either empathy or encouragement—and sometimes both. In conversation with Center for Women's History Director Valerie Paley, Jessica Weisberg discusses her new book, Asking for a Friend: Three Centuries of Advice on Life, Love, Money, and Other Burning Questions from a Nation Obsessed, with Center for Women’s History director Valerie Paley.
The War Against Breast Cancer
April 9, 6 – 7 pm, Skylight Gallery
Biographer and journalist Susan Hertog joins us at the Museum for a conversation with New-York Historical Society President & CEO Louise Mirrer, Ph.D., about entrepreneur and philanthropist Evelyn Lauder, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and The War Against Breast Cancer. Refreshments will be served.
Art and Women's Rights
March 16, 5:30 – 7 pm, Skylight Gallery
How did art promote women’s rights at the turn of the 20th century? Join us as historian and printmaker Carole Turbin, historian April F. Masten—author of Art Work: Women Artists and Democracy in Mid-Nineteenth Century New York—and curator Sarah Gordon discuss the role of art in the fight for suffrage. We’ll journey together on a casual walk through our Hotbed exhibition to explore activism and the influence of the Greenwich Village bohemian scene on the New York suffrage movement as well as how activists used visuals to seek social and political change.
Monumental Women: A Statue for Central Park
March 9, 5:30 – 7 pm, Skylight Gallery
Central Park currently boasts 23 statues of men. Conspicuously absent among them are portrayals of real women. Michele H. Bogart, professor of American visual culture studies at Stony Brook University, and Pam Elam, president of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund discuss the recent initiative to bring depictions of women's right's pioneers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony into the park and into the larger conversation.
Women and Work
January 17, 2018 – 7 pm cocktails - 7:30 pm discussion
New-York Historical’s President & CEO Louise Mirrer sits down with Ellevest CEO and co-founder Sallie Krawcheck to discuss women and work. Check out Krawcheck’s piece last week in the New York Times, “The Cost of Devaluing Women.”
Women of the Village
December 15, 2017 – 5 pm tour - 6 pm discussion
Leading scholars and Center for Women’s History Advisory Board members Blanche Wiesen Cook and Lara Vapnek talk with Hotbed curators Sarah Gordon and Joanna Scutts about how bohemian Greenwich Village incubated women's activism in early 20th-century New York. Before the discussion, join us for a curator-led tour of the exhibition.
Women in Journalism in the 21st Century
November 28, 2017 – 7 pm cocktails - 7:30 pm discussion
Join Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC host and national correspondent, and Irin Carmon, journalist, commentator, and author of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for a conversation on women in journalism in the 21st Century.