The Missing Waves of Feminism

NWHM's 25th Anniversary Symposium Series

The National Women’s History Museum is celebrating 25 years of service and dedication to amplifying women’s distinct contributions to the nation’s history both past and present by hosting a four-part virtual symposium series, “The Missing Waves of Feminism.” “The Missing Waves” will examine the “lost eras” of the traditionally recognized canons of the four waves of feminism, including examples of early activism, the roles of minority women, and the impact of social movements that continued to progress for women’s rights even as the nation’s attention was turned to wars, pandemics, and internal disputes.

Highlighting barrier-breaking women, scholars, and activists whose work centers around citizenship, equity, voter suppression, equal pay, and social justice, the panelists, too, will represent a diverse array of disciplines and cultural studies. “The Missing Waves of Feminism” is produced in complement to the NWHM’s newest four-part virtual exhibit series to be published throughout the current year, titled Feminism: The Four Waves. Our first exhibit in the series, Feminism: The First Wave is available here in English and Spanish.

Using a virtual platform, this eye-opening symposium series will connect audiences with presenters whose intellect and talents demonstrate women’s backbone, ingenuity, and forward thinking from the late 18th century to the start of this new decade in the 21st century. NWHM Charter Members have the special opportunity to meet virtually with select speakers prior to the public talks.

Upcoming Event: The Missing Waves of Feminism: The Second Wave
June 13, 2021, 6 p.m. ET

“The Missing Waves of Feminism: The Second Wave” symposium will highlight women changemakers beyond the “canonical” 1960-1980 period that is often defined as the second wave of feminism. The goal is to re-examine the origins, context, and chronology of the “second wave” of feminism with a robust discussion that considers why a wave theory that excludes the less examined period of 1920-1960 is problematic, and shine sunlight on the consequences of this erasure. Register here for this event.


  • Dr. Beverly Guy-SheftallFounding Director, Women's Research and Resource Center; Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies; Spelman College
  • Dr. Catherine J. Lavender, Director, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program; Director, Bertha Harris Women's Center; Associate Professor of History; The College of Staten Island/CUNY
  • Dr. Laura L. Lovett, Associate Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh


  • Dr. Michele B. Goodwin; Chancellor's Professor of Law; The University of California at Irvine


Future Programs:

September 26, 2021
The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The Third Wave

December 12, 2021
The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The Fourth Wave

The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The First Wave

On April 11, NWHM hosted a distinguished panel of barrier-breaking women, scholars, and activists for a discussion about early activism, the roles of minority women, and the impact of social movements in the First Wave era of feminism.

Michelle Duster is an author, professor, public historian, and champion of racial and gender equity. She has written, edited, or contributed to over a dozen books. Her most recent book, Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells, was released on January 26th by Atria/One Signal publishers, a division of Simon and Schuster. She co-wrote the popular children’s history book, Tate and His Historic Dream; co-edited Impact: Personal Portraits of Activism; Shifts: An Anthology of Women’s Growth through Change; Michelle Obama’s Impact on African American Women and Girls; and edited two books that include the writings of her paternal great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells.

Dr. Martha Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, Professor of History, and a Professor at the SNF Agora Institute at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy. Dr. Jones is the author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All (2020), selected as one of TIME’s 100 must-read books for 2020.

Dr. Lisa Tetrault is an associate professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University and specializes in the history of gender, race, and American democracy with a focus on social movements and memory. Dr. Tetrault lectures on the U.S. suffrage movement and is active as a public historian. In 2019, she delivered the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Votes for Women exhibit keynote address. She currently serves as an historical consultant for the National Constitution Center’s Nineteenth Amendment exhibit, the Woodrow Wilson House’s “Women’s Suffrage Initiative,” the PBS American Experience documentary The Vote, and’s new Women’s Suffrage Project.

Dr. Michele Bratcher Goodwin
is a global thought leader and advisor, as well as an award-winning author, advocate, professor, and social commentator. She is the host of the popular podcast, On the Issues with Michele Goodwin, at Ms. Magazine. Her writings address pressing matters of law, society, and global health. Her publications appear across five books and more than one hundred law review articles, book chapters, and commentaries. Her opinion editorials and commentaries can be found in The New York Times, LA Times,, Politico, Forbes, The Christian Science Monitor, and other platforms. She is a frequent contributor to Ms. Magazine and is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Goodwin is an elected member of the American Law Institute, an elected fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and an elected fellow at The Hastings Center.