Reviews & Media
Speaking Engagement Reviews
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Barbara's lecture on the role of Massachusetts activists in the women's suffrage movement was energetic, engaging, and intellectually compelling. Her work is an important lesson, not only on a forgotten dimension of U.S. women's suffrage movement, but in the ways that taken-for-granted histories are so often shaped by dynamics of power and marginalization. The content of Barbara's work is outstanding. That she brings such vibrancy and organization to her public speaking makes her an excellent guest speaker in any number of venues. We look forward to having her back!
Ara Francis, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester
"Barbara’s talk was the kick-off for a day-long statewide conference and immediately focused everyone’s attention on the role of Massachusetts women as change makers. Her themes of “perseverance, patience, and pressure” resonated with the activists in the audience. As she spoke, people were riveted, either nodding in agreement or taking copious notes. Barbara’s talk was pitch-perfect and helped set the stage for the rest of the day by emphasizing the strategies that the suffragists employed, the obstacles they faced, and the value of the “long view.” Her words and her book will provide good reading for women who are engaged in making a difference today."
Meryl Kessler, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
"Barbara Berenson is a fantastic speaker on women’s suffrage, she is engaging, enthusiastic, and remarkably knowledgeable. Her talk gave an overview of the history, spanning the antebellum period all the way to the passage of the 19th Amendment, and was able to give everyone in the room a solid foundation for understanding the long arch of the story. Also, the question and answer session was really great, in answering she was able to show the depth of her knowledge and I think that even the best informed people in the room walked away with new information."
Gavin Kleespies, Director of Programs, Massachusetts Historical Society
"Dear Barbara: We are grateful for your time, generosity and expertise! Your lecture provided another side of the complicated and fascinating story of the struggle for woman's suffrage! Who gets remembered is as much a function of the present as it is the past. Lucy Stone deserves to be recognized as one of the most affective and charismatic leaders of the suffrage movement. Thank you for bringing her story to readers and our guests!
By portraying the political and personal conflicts between Stone on one side, and Anthony and Stanton on the other, you provided lessons for us today. Can change happen without compromising principles?
The audience was intrigued and the conversations about your lecture lively!
Director of interpretation & Visitor Services
The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, Rochester NY
It was an absolute pleasure to host Barbara here at the Concord Museum in November to discuss her book Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement. Her talk was both compelling and comprehensive, and offered new insights into the fascinating history of the women’s movement in the United States in the 19th and 20th century – particularly as it relates to not only the history of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, but to the history of Concord. It was an incredibly timely and relevant topic, as we held the event the day before the election day of 2018, and the post-talk discussion gave attendees the opportunity to make connections between historical and current events. We would happily host Barbara again in the future!
Suzi Fonda, Director of Education and Public Programs, Concord Museum
Barbara was recommended to the library as a great speaker for our local history series. I’m very pleased we invited her. Her talk was wonderful. It was informative and wonderfully illustrated. She deftly provided a national context to the fight for the vote in Massachusetts, and explored why much of this part of our history has been ignored or forgotten. The audience asked many questions. We have already asked her back to do another program.
Gail Fithian, Assistant Manager, Research Services, Boston Public Library
Thank you so much for your interesting and insightful talk today at the Rotary Club of Newton. We had a full house, and everyone was engaged, as evidenced by the numerous and targeted questions that were asked following your presentation. I truly appreciated your speaking style as you were able to hold everyone’s attention while passing on such fascinating facts and anecdotes. Thank you, also, for tailoring your remarks so expertly for the shorter time allotted: I am glad that you kept the excess slides in your visuals as they whetted my appetite to purchase and read your book! You crafted a wonderful presentation, and we appreciate your joining us. Come back any time.
Susan M. Paley, President, Rotary Club of Newton
Last week, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts University was lucky enough to have Barbara Berenson talk to us about her newest book,Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers, and I can't recommend her highly enough as a speaker. Barbara didn't just grab the attention of our members, she maintained it throughout her talk, which was as engaging as it was informative.
Truth be told, I never expected less, as Barbara had given an equally fascinating talk for us several years ago about her previous book. Both times, she not only conveyed an extraordinary amount of information in a relatively short time, but also managed to make the audience feel that she was talking "with" them, not "at" them—a knack that not many speakers have mastered.
I only hope that she writes another book soon so that I'll have an excuse to ask her to speak for my program one more time. There an old expression that the "third time's a charm." In Barbara's case, every time's a charm! If you have a chance to hear her, take it. If you have a chance to have her speak for your program, grab it. In either case, you won't regret it."
David A. Fechtor, Director
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts University
"Barbara Berenson spoke to a packed audience of 65. In an hour, she presented a succinct history of woman suffrage that was informative and entertaining. As she spoke, she was precise, clear, and extremely knowledgeable. After her talk, followed by questions and answers, the room was abuzz with discussion; attendees thanked Ms. Berenson and the DHSM for the presentation, commenting on how much it was enjoyed, appreciated, and timely. We look forward to having Ms. Berenson speak again when she completes her next book."
Johanna McBrien, Executive Director, Dedham Historical Society & Museum (Talk held in collaboration with the Dedham Public Library and Women in Democracy Dedham)
"Many thanks for speaking here last week as part of the State Library's Author Talk series. Your presentation was a perfect way to enhance the new series, and we have heard nothing but very positive things from the people who attended. Every single person I talked to told me how glad they were that they had come, and that they had learned a great deal abut events that they thought they knew well."
Elvernoy Johnson, Massachusetts State Librarian
"After hearing Barbara Berenson talk about her book at the Boston Public Library, I knew right away that she would be a good speaker for the Annual Meeting of the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail. I explained to Barbara that the meeting was a get-together for our Board of Directors and our Advisory Board to review our past activities and describe new ventures but also included guests from organizations that we had worked with over the past year and members of organizations that we hoped to work with in the future. Making a good impression to attract new colleagues was one of our goals. I believe the good turnout was due in part to her presence. Barbara adapted her regular book tour presentation to fit within our time constraints. Since we just celebrated the 15th anniversary of the installation of the Boston Women’s Memorial in Boston’s Back Bay that features Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley, I asked Barbara to focus her talk on Lucy Stone. What a fantastic job she did in focusing her comments around Stone while giving enough background of the other suffragists and the complexities of the abolitionist movement. Her passion for illuminating the struggles and successes of the Massachusetts movement was fascinating. Speaking without notes and with accompanying visuals, she deserves all the praise others have noted in these reviews."
Michelle Jenney, President, Boston Women’s Heritage Trail
"We brought Barbara to give a public talk about her newest book, Massachusetts in the Women Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers. It was a really well organized, informative, and entertaining presentation. She brought great information about how women from our state were on the leading edge of the fight for the right to vote! She can tailor her talk to meet your group's needs, and she was generous with her time regarding questions afterwards. We highly recommend bringing her to speak to your organization or classroom!"
Courtney Rau Rogers, President, LWV Norwood
"Barbara F. Berenson, Esq. delivered a detail-filled and incredibly researched history of the Women’s Suffrage movement through the lens of Massachusetts organizers to the Fall Conference of the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Woman Educators.
Attendees learned that Lucy Stone, often noted as a secondary contributor to the progress of votes for women, buoyed by the work of Angelina and Sarah Grimke, was the engine behind the first National Women’s Rights Convention. Held in Worcester MA in 1850, this gathering launched an organized national women’s rights movement following the Seneca Falls Convention.
Utilizing primary sources harking back to an 1837 letter from New Rowley MA, Angelina Grimke wrote 'The whole land seems roused to discussion on the province of woman, & I am glad of it.' Berenson described the development of two organizations: the American Women’s Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone and Boston based, and the National Women’s Suffrage Association, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, in New York. The two associations had differing policy goals in their efforts to bring voting rights to women, but ultimately in 1890 they merged to form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. The dedicated, passionate work of these women did result in the passage of the 19th Amendment, but the starts and stops, small successes and political acumen required to stay the course provided a stimulating historical perspective for our gathering.
Berenson is an engaging lecturer, providing original sources, illustrations, and the historical perspective of the women who used their 'obligation of opportunity,' as stated by Maud Wood Park. We know their work is not complete, and discovering that the National American Women’s Suffrage Association became the League of Women Voters is challenge enough to continue their work. We should feel obligated to step up, speak up and show up as we lift up each other."
State Literacy Chair
Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Women Educators
"Barbara Berenson gave a very successful talk on Massachusetts Leadership in the Women Suffrage Movement at the Newton Free Library in June 2018. With close to 50 in attendance, Barbara gave a well-researched and expertly presented lecture. The Q and A was robust with lots of audience interest in the topic. Barbara is a stellar historian who, through careful attention to detail, enlightens those who attend her presentations in an approachable, accurate and technically detailed fashion. I highly recommend her as a public speaker."
Ellen Meyers, Director of Programs, Newton Free Library
"Berenson's presentation is well-organized and deeply researched. Her lively style and copious Power Point images clarify the complicated history of how women, women of Massachusetts in particular, fought for the right to vote. She clearly parses the political in-fighting that led to the creation of separate and sometimes opposing groups within the movement . As she draws a timeline of the progress of the franchise for women across the nation, one is shocked to learn how slowly the movement in, of all places, Massachusetts, finally achieved victory."
Ann Marie Shea, Ph.D., Worcester Women's History Project
Barbara Berenson gave a talk to the Dorchester Historical Society. Our audience was full of praise, saying that Barbara made a complex topic understandable and left them with a desire to learn more. She moved through the story of the Woman Suffrage Movement while providing the context of other events and trends were happening at the same time. She is an engaging speaker, and the audience raised many questions and offered their comments about honoring women leaders in the suffrage movement. They were exhilarated by her talk.
Earl Taylor, President, Dorchester Historical Society
One patron told me, "Excellent speaker. Could have listened for 3 hours. Bought the book and I’ve already started it. Definitely bring her back!!" Another wrote "I Loved it. I was hoping to gain some insight about the Suffrage Movement that I didn't already know and the author knocked me off my feet with the info on the Massachusetts contribution. It is more than interesting to learn of the minimizing of Lucy Stone's input. Just another reason to be proud of Massachusetts. I brought 3 friends and they appreciated it as well. It was well presented, congrats to the author. Now I also know where the League of Women's Voter's came from. Thank you Tewksbury Library."
Robert Hayes, Tewksbury Public Library
"Your talk last night was excellent. The audience learned a lot from it, and your presentation was very engaging. Your topic is timely, but what I found particularly interesting were the added nuances of cultural context you provided and the expansions/amendments made to the simple summary version of the suffrage movement that most of us have floating in our heads from survey history courses. Very interesting."
Harvard Club of Boston
"Thank you so much for your talk about your latest book at Regis College Lifelong Learning speakers’ series. You are such an engaging speaker, the visuals are well chosen, the content interestingly presented; it was an altogether delightful presentation. The audience has been very enthusiastic about your depth of knowledge, engaging delivery, and charming manner. We look forward to your next presentation!"
Regis College Lifelong Learning Speakers' Series
"Barbara presented her "Women's Suffrage" program to the West Boylston Historical Society on Oct. 3, 2018. What a wonderful program full of so much history. She is well prepared and very knowledgeable which shows her passion for women's suffrage and how important it is today in the current political climate. Her power point is well thought out with great pictures that show the timeline of the progress these important women made so that we can enjoy the rights we have today. This was our kickoff program with a full house. The audience was very attentive and after questions, were excited to go home with her book."
Carol Parker, President, West Boylston Historical Society
In her talk on “Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement”, Barbara gives nuance and complexity to the different paths followed by organizers on the long road to woman suffrage. Barbara explains with fascinating detail why some women pushed for national legislation and others committed to local and incremental changes, and how these two approaches yielded different results. She recovers a vital part of the hidden history of race in the woman suffrage movement and shares the groundbreaking work of Massachusetts women who were at once committed to racial equality and women’s rights and whose skillful leaders included some of the most influential Black suffragists. Barbara adds an illuminating historical corrective to a part of the story that has not yet been told and she is an eloquent and engaging speaker. Our students remarked she is ‘among the best they have seen at Holy Cross’.
Selina Gallo-Cruz, Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, College of the Holy Cross
"Barbara Berenson has extensive knowledge of the American women’s suffrage movement. Not only is Barbara an extremely engaging speaker, but her talk was also inspiring and delightful. She also has an superb ability to answer questions, including ones that focus on parallels between the suffrage movement and contemporary challenges. What an important, relevant, and fascinating area of history! Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers is a must-read for all!"
Melissa Nawrocki, Executive Director, Flaschner Judicial Institute
"As one of the two headliner speakers at the 2018 League of Women Voters of the Worcester Area (LWVWA) annual meeting, Bridging the Divide: Acknowledging our Past/Building Our Future, Barbara Berenson expertly described the history of the woman suffrage movement in Massachusetts from the mid-19th century until the passage of the 19th Amendment, with a particular focus on race. Ms. Berenson uplifted the work of women of color in the suffrage movement, highlighting women of color leaders such as Sarah Parker Remond, Frances Watkins Harper, and Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, and described the denial of access to women’s organizations that women of color faced due to racism. Since the League of Women Voters traces its origins to these earlier organizations, Ms. Berenson’s talk was timely and has provided the LWVWA a starting point from which to begin dialogues on the intersection of race and gender within our organization."
League of Women Voters of the Worcester Area
"Your book and your talk inspire us to keep working for women’s and all human rights.Though many of us know that we owe much to these early pioneers for suffrage, your energized way of sharing their stories makes us hopeful for continued progress. We owe much to the courageous women in our past and to the voice you give them. As a passionate author and speaker, you engage us in history and help our journey onward. Thank you Barbara!"
Laurie Rose Schloff
President, Partners in Communication
Media Appearances and Reviews