Lewis to speak about mid-19th-Century businesswomen

BETHLEHEM — As part of their Fall Speaker Series, the Bethlehem Historical Association is presenting a talk by Dr. Susan Ingalls Lewis entitled “Business Women in Mid-Nineteenth Century Albany” on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 2 p.m. at the Delmar Reformed Church.

Drawing from her book “Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth Century Albany,” Lewis challenges assumptions about the role of woman as only wife and mother. Her meticulous research in city directories, census records, and credit reports casts light on women running a wide variety of businesses including groceries, saloons and liquor stores, piano stores, hotels, and even a plumbing company.

Lewis will reveal evidence of such supposedly modern phenomena as self-employment, dual-income marriages, working motherhood, home-based business, and the juggling of domestic and professional priorities.

Susan Ingalls Lewis is a professor emerita at the State University of New York College at New Paltz, as well as an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Lewis received her bachelor of arts from Wellesley College in 1970, and her Ph.D. from Binghamton University in 2002.

She continues to teach courses on American women’s history and New York State history and is currently co-editing “Suffrage and its Limits: The New York Story” to be published by SUNY Press. Lewis’s monograph, “Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York, 1830-1885,” published by the Ohio State University Press in 2009, was awarded the Hagley Prize in Business History for the best book published in the field.

Free and open to the public, the talk will be followed by refreshments and conversation.

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