Skip to content Skip to navigation

VIRTUAL EVENT: Book Talk: This is What Democracy Looked Like

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Registration is requested
Free and open to the public
Click here to access the live program. This event will start at 6 pm. 

Virtual Event: This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot

Alicia Cheng in conversation with Liette Gidlow


This Is What Democracy Looked Like, the first illustrated history of printed ballot design, illuminates the noble but often flawed process at the heart of our democracy. An exploration and celebration of US ballots from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this visual history reveals unregulated, outlandish, and, at times, absurd designs that reflect the explosive growth and changing face of the voting public. The ballots offer insight into a pivotal time in American history—a period of tectonic shifts in the electoral system—fraught with electoral fraud, disenfranchisement, scams, and skullduggery, as parties printed their own tickets and voters risked their lives going to the polls.


Alicia Yin Cheng is a graphic designer and founding partner at MGMT. design. She has worked as a senior designer for Method, New York, and was the co-design director at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. She has taught and served as a visiting critic at Yale University, Princeton University, the Maryland Institute College of Art, Parsons School of Design, University of the Arts, the Cooper Union School of Art, and the Rhode Island School of Design. Alicia received her BA from Barnard College and her MFA from Yale University.
Liette Gidlow is an associate professor of history at Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan and a 2019-2020 Mellon-Schlesinger Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She writes and teaches about post–Civil War US politics, gender, and race. Her recent research examines the grassroots efforts of African Americans to vote in the South after 1920.
At Radcliffe, Gidlow is drafting her next book, “The 19th Amendment and the Politics of Race, 1920–1970,” which explores connections between the woman suffrage amendment of 1920 and the African American freedom movements of the 1950s and 1960s. Part of the broader reassessment of the 19th Amendment at its centennial, this research finds that a small but significant number of southern African Americans voted after ratification and that their successes, together with unceasing agitation by many who remained disfranchised, transformed not only the black freedom struggle but political parties, election procedures, and social movements on the right and the left. @ProfGidlow
Gidlow earned a PhD in history at Cornell University. She has published two books—The Big Vote: Gender, Consumer Culture, and the Politics of Exclusion, 1890s–1920s (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) and Obama, Clinton, Palin: Making History in Election 2008 (University of Illinois Press, 2011)—and many articles. Her research has been cited in the New York Times and on the BBC, and she writes about voting rights and women’s politics for a variety of media outlets.
Assistive Listening Devices image

To request real-time captions for this event, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 no fewer than four business days prior to the event.