Bohemians West: Free Love, Family, and Radicals in Twentieth-Century America

Thursday, January 28 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

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Virtual Event


Writer and historian Sherry L. Smith discusses her new book "Bohemians West" with ICW Director William Deverell, offering a deeply personal look at a dynamic period in American history.

The opening years of the twentieth century saw a grand cast of radicals and reformers fighting for a new America, seeking change not only in labor picket lines and at women’s suffrage rallies but also in homes and bedrooms. In the thick of this heady milieu were Sara Bard Field and Charles Erskine Scott Wood, two aspiring poets and political activists whose love story uncovers a potent emotional world underneath this transformative time.

Self-declared pioneers in free love, Sara and Erskine exchanged hundreds of letters that chartered a new kind of romantic relationship, and their personal affair frequently intersected with their deeply engaged political lives. As Sara’s star rose in the suffrage movement (including an automobile trip she took across the country in 1915 carrying a petition with thousands of signatures demanding Congress pass the Nineteenth Amendment), she began to ask questions about her own power in her relationship with Erskine.

Event Type

Lecture / Talk / Workshop


Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff


Other Location


History, Institute on California and the West (ICW)
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