About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for The Man Who Hated Women: Sex, Censorship, and Civil Liberties in the Gilded Age

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual author lecture with Amy Sohn, author of The Man Who Hated Women.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

On Thursday, July 15, at noon, we’ll hear from Paul Letersky, who in 1965 was assigned to assist the legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Letersky’s new book,  The Director, describes his years in Hoover’s inner circle.

And on Tuesday, July 20, at 1 p.m., Former Congresswoman and Wilson Center Director Jane Harman will discuss her recently published book, Insanity Defense, which examines how four administrations have failed to confront some of the toughest national security policy issues.

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First of all, I’m delighted, as always, to see thanks to National Archives staff in the acknowledgments of The Man Who Hated Women. Amy Sohn’s recognition of the staff at the National Archives at Chicago is much appreciated.

The anti-vice activist Anthony Comstock devoted his career to opposing what he deemed “immoral.” His namesake law, the 1873 Comstock Act, outlawed sending obscenity and contraceptives through the U.S. Mail and its effect lasted for 100 years.

After the act’s passage, eight remarkable women engaged in a decades-long fight against Comstock’s law in court and in the press. In The Man Who Hated Women, Amy Sohn brings to light their stories and describes how their activism laid the groundwork for an expansion of women’s rights in the future.

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Amy Sohn is the New York Times–bestselling author of 12 books, which have been published in 11 languages and on five continents, and is also a screenwriter for television. She has written weekly columns for the downtown weekly New York Press and the New York Post, and was a contributing editor at New York Magazine for six years. As a freelance journalist she has written for the New York Times, Slate, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Men’s Journal, and many others.

Moderator Elizabeth Mitchell is the author of four nonfiction books and formerly served as the executive editor of George magazine, the features editor of SPIN magazine, and a contributing editor to Newsweek. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Condé Nast Traveler, Glamour, and The Nation, among many others. Mitchell has been interviewed on numerous radio and television shows and has taught nonfiction writing at Columbia University.

Now let’s hear from Amy Sohn and Elizabeth Mitchell. Thank you for joining us.