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2023 Distinguished Annual Lecture by Sara Dubow

"I Always Pick the Losing Cause": Dorothy Kenyon, the ACLU, and the Development of Feminist Jurisprudence

April 20, 2023, 4pm | UMass Amherst Herter Hall Room 601 | Free and Open to All

In 1945, twenty-five years after its founding, the American Civil Liberties Union established a Committee on Discrimination Against Women. This committee represented a victory, and a launching pad, for Dorothy Kenyon, a lawyer who had joined the Board of Directors of the ACLU in 1930. As chair of this committee, Kenyon led the organization’s fight for women’s rights until her death in 1972. This talk explores how Kenyon convinced the ACLU to put women’s rights on their agenda, and how she developed the ACLU’s earliest legal strategies to fight sex discrimination, strategies that would be successfully deployed in the 1970s by Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.

Sara Dubow is a Professor of History and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Williams College, where she teaches courses in women’s and gender history, recent U.S. history, and legal history. Her first book, Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America was pHeadshot of Sara Dubowublished by Oxford University Press in 2010, and won the 2011 Bancroft Prize. She has published articles on the history of conscience clauses in recent U.S. history, and is currently working on a book about the life and work of Dorothy Kenyon.

The Distinguished Annual Lecture in History is presented by the UMass/Five College Graduate Program in History with support from the UMass Amherst History Department and Five Colleges, Inc. It is co-sponsored by the UMass Amherst Center for Justice, Law, and Societies; Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies and Legal Studies Program and by the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice Certificate and the Reproductive Politics Faculty Seminar.

Location and Access Information
Herter Hall is located at 161 Presidents Drive on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Herter Hall is located on Haigis Mall and is a short distance from the Robsham Visitors Center (300 Massachusetts Ave, $1.50/hour). There are several bus stops nearby. More information: bus schedulecampus mapaccessible parking. Herter Hall is wheelchair accessible. To request additional accommodations, email the communications office at: .