Robin Henry

Volunteer History Commentator

Dr. Robin C. Henry holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Indiana University and is an associate professor in the history department at Wichita State University. Her research examines the intersections among sexuality, law, and regional identity in the 19th- and early 20th-century United States.

She is the author of the forthcoming book, Criminalizing Sex, Defining Sexuality: Sexual Regulation and Masculinity in the American West, 1850-1927, as well as numerous articles. Currently, she is working on her second book, The Progressives’ Lincoln: Reform and the Intellectual Life of Benjamin Barr Lindsey.

Ways to Connect

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This commentary originally aired on November 28, 2017.  

On November 27th and 28th 1917, the federal government succumbed to public outcry and released the National Women’s Party picketers from the Occoquan Workhouse. The events leading up to this capitulation advanced discussion of women’s suffrage, but at great cost to members of the National Women’s Party.

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On Nov. 10, 1919, the U.S. Supreme Court decided its second First Amendment case in two weeks.

In Abrams v. U.S., the federal government asked the court to uphold the 1918 Amendment to Espionage Act of 1917, better known as the Sedition Act, which made it a criminal offense to suggest ending war-time production. In a 7-2 decision, the court upheld the Sedition Act, applied the two-week-old "clear and present danger" doctrine, and ignited a conversation on the limitations of free speech that extended through the rest of the 20th century.

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In August, the United States observed the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved people kidnapped from West Africa and transported to the North America colonies. To observe this date, the New York Times, in partnership with the Pulitzer Center, published a 100-page edition of its Sunday magazine entitled “The 1619 Project.” 

This commentary originally aired on November 29, 2016.

The familiar verse “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” from Emma Lazarus’s 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” affirms many Americans’ belief that the United States is a nation of immigrants.

Win McNamee / Getty Images / npr.org

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. Considered one of the most effective pieces of federal legislation, this act secured nationwide minority voting rights. While previous legislation had attempted to do this, the sweeping infrastructure of federal oversight that developed through a series of “special provisions” differentiates this act.

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This month, we recognize the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. For many Americans, Stonewall is the beginning of the gay liberation and civil rights movements. But like many movements, the visible moments often rest on a foundation of small, but significant, social, political, and legal challenges.


On May 15, 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. While this would seem to have been cause for celebration, the NWSA resulted from a bitter divide between abolitionists and women’s rights activists over the 15th Amendment.

This commentary originally aired on April 4, 2017.

During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln believed that dissenters remaining within loyal states posed a threat to the Union. 

As the calendar changes from February to March, many of us are aware that we move from celebrating Black History Month to Women’s History Month. However, this abrupt shift reflects more the arbitrary way we mark the passage of time than lived experiences that more frequently push against arbitrarily drawn timeframes and structures of analysis. As a scholar of women and gender history, the move from Black to Women’s History months presents the perfect opportunity to discuss intersectionality.


When historians talk about the “trust-busting era” in US history, we are probably referring to the early 20th century when the federal government broke up several large, corporate monopolies in order to promote economic competition. However, the largest corporate breakup actually took place in 1982.  

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