About Me

Click here to download my academic CV:  Ella Wagner CV January 2019

Wagner_Ella_2015_01_highresI am a public historian and PhD candidate in US History and Public History at Loyola University Chicago. I hold a BA from Columbia University in American Studies and History, and MAs in Public History and US History from Loyola University Chicago. My dissertation explores women in the temperance movement and what their advocacy for prohibition and women’s empowerment can tell us about gender, race, and party politics in the 1880s and 1890s. Specifically, I study the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and its efforts to become the first truly national women’s reform organization in the decades after the American Civil War.

My current public history work focuses on making women’s history visible. I am curating an online exhibition for the Frances Willard House Museum in Evanston, IL on the public confrontation between WCTU president Frances Willard and journalist and activist Ida B. Wells over the issue of lynching. Entitled “Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells,” the project also explores how issues of racism continue to reverberate within women’s movements.

As Amy Dykeman Fellow at the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, I recently worked on the National Votes for Women Trail project, which aims to map suffrage history sites across the United States. This project seeks to tell a fuller story of women’s enfranchisement before and after the 19th amendment: while white women could vote after 1920, Native American women living on reservations didn’t get citizenship until 1924, and many Southern black women remained disenfranchised until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This complicated story helps to contextualize the continued barriers to voting poor women and women of color face today.

In the past I have worked on public programs for the Newberry Library; on suffrage history research for the Evanston History Center; as an architectural boat tour guide for Wendella Boats; and as a program assistant for the Social Science Research Council’s Digital Culture program. I expect to complete my PhD in 2021. You can find my infrequent tweets @ellafwagner.