Laura E FreeAssociate Professor of History

Joined faculty in 2005

Ph.D., Cornell University
M.A., Cornell University
M.A., Binghamton University
B.A., Grinnell College

Contact Information

Henry HousePhone (315) 781-3554

Scholarly Interest

Voting Rights

Teaching Experience

John S. Knight Writing Program, Cornell University
Cornell-in-Washington Program
Department of History, Cornell University
Department of History, Binghamton University


I am currently working on a short, readable political history of the 19th Amendment. 

Courses Taught

The History of Stuff: American Production & Consumption 1600-2000

Monsters in America

Women in American History

Civil War and Reconstruction

Bullets, Belles, and Bloated Bodies: The Civil War in American Memory & Culture


Book: Suffrage Reconstructed: Gender, Race and Voting Rights in the Civil War Era (Cornell University Press, 2015).

The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified on July 9, 1868, identified all legitimate voters as "male." In so doing, it added gender-specific language to the U.S. Constitution for the first time. Suffrage Reconstructed is the first book to consider how and why the amendment's authors made this decision. 

"This book invites historians of the rise of American democracy to engage in dialogue with historians of woman suffrage. It is an invitation to be heeded."—Anne M. Boylan, Journal of American History

"Suffrage Reconstructed is a significant contribution to the intertwined histories of Reconstruction politics and women's suffrage. Laura E. Free offers a persuasive, innovative, and nuanced analysis of the political rhetoric that transformed citizenship after the Civil War. Free offers an original and necessary perspective on this pivotal moment in the nation's history."—Carol Faulkner, Syracuse University, author of Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in 19th-Century America

"In the crisp and lucid Suffrage Reconstructed, Laura E. Free delivers on her promise to shed light on how whiteness and manhood became synonymous with citizenship, why the word 'male' was introduced into the Constitution with the 14th Amendment, and what Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony hoped to accomplish with their tactical shifts after the war."—Elizabeth R. Varon, University of Virginia, author of Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789–1859


American Historical Association
Organization of American Historians


I am interested in political language, identity formation, and the way that gender and race are created and re-created in the public political world. My work focuses on the interconnections between gender, race, and politics in the 19th-century United States.