Shannon M. Risk, ’96, ’09, Associate Professor of History at Niagara University, will deliver a lecture entitled: “Examining the Life of Maine Missionary and Suffragist Elizabeth Upham Yates — The Importance of Biography.”
“Elizabeth Upham Yates (1857-1942) was a missionary and suffragist, born and raised in Coastal Maine, who rose to national prominence as a reformer in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The study of her life poses a number of issues for the historian biographer. Yates left no collection of papers, and it is common for whatever papers remained from a female reformer’s life to not be saved by archives, a reflection that women’s history was not “real history.” Is it possible to write a comprehensive biography with few personal documents saved, and if so, how? Is it important to memorialize a reformer who comprised the “second tier” — those whose most important work influenced state and local regions, and whose names were long ago forgotten? A study of Yates’ life allows the biographer to place her ideas and actions within the greater construct of the progressive era and the paradoxes for reformers. It situates her missionary work as part of American empire building, negotiates what an intense female friendship meant for Yates’ in terms of companionship and support, and discusses her complicated interactions with immigrants and people of color.”
Part of the History Symposium and organized by the History Department.