August 7, 2024

'That I May Enjoy the Most Unlimited Freedom:' Women's Political Activism in Early 20th Century America

Class Details

'That I May Enjoy the Most Unlimited Freedom:' Women's Political Activism in Early 20th Century America

In a letter to Susan B. Anthony, her sister in the suffrage movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton expressed how she longed for when St. Peter asked her where she wanted to sit, so she could reply, “Anywhere, so that I am neither a negro nor a woman. Confer on me, good angel, the glory of white manhood so that henceforth, sitting or standing, rising up or lying down, I may enjoy the most unlimited freedom.” (December 23, 1859) Here, Stanton criticized the inequities of American democracy in the 19th century, but it was a fight with many shortcomings. Within the woman suffrage movement, there were injustices against BIPOC women, as well as working-class and immigrant women.

In this course, we will address the multiple ways American women of different races and classes gained access (or at least attempted) to the American democracy. From the Populist movement to the Progressive Era, through World War I and the ratification of the 19th Amendment, we will learn about women within and outside of the parameters of suffrage. How did they define “freedom” and “equality”? How have those goals and movements evolved to present day?


  • Enrollment through your home campus; contact your OSLEP campus coordinator for information
  • OSLEP provides all required reading materials at no additional cost-NO books to buy!
  • Housing and meals provided
  • In-person residential seminar
Start Date
August 7, 2024
End Date
August 11, 2024
University of Oklahoma, Norman
Course Credits
Application Deadline
June 28, 2024
Photo of Sunu Kodumthara sitting in a chair


Sunu Kodumthara, Ph.D

Sunu Kodumthara is a Professor of History at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and has taught there since January 2010. Her research specializes in early 20th century women’s political activism, specifically the anti-suffrage movement and their response to the women’s suffrage movement of the American West. She is the author of “An ‘Intrepid Pioneer Leader:’ The A-Suffrage Gendered Activism of Kate Barnard” (This Land is Herland: Gendered Activism in Oklahoma, 1870s – 2010s, University of Oklahoma Press, 2020), as well as ‘The Right of Suffrage Has Been Thrust on Me:’ The Reluctant Suffragists of the American West,” (The Journal of Gilded Age and Progressive Era, October 2020). Kodumthara teaches courses such as Oklahoma History, Women’s History, and Early 20th Century America. She is also currently the state scholar for the Oklahoma Humanities’ traveling Smithsonian exhibit, Voices and Votes: Democracy in America.

Class Prep

Further Resources