Bold Women. Change History.

Women's History Symposium

"Undergarments: Revealing the Past."

November 18, 2023
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The Center for Colorado Women’s History is excited to announce the 2023 Women’s History Symposium, “Undergarments: Revealing the Past.” The Symposium gathers scholars, researchers, and those who wish to explore the theme of  Colorado women’s experience as expressed through undergarments. We will consider how undergarments give form and shape to bodies, while they also express identity, autonomy, agency, and protest.

Juana Bordas, award winning author and passionate speaker on Latino leadership, will deliver the keynote address, “Beyond Undergarments, Powerful Women Inside.”

I grew up in the fifties when women donned girdles and cinch belts (to make your waist smaller).  We slithered into nylons, wore hats, high heels, dresses, and gloves. Yes, women were restricted both internally and externally in society. As we liberated ourselves off came the girdles, high heels, and gloves.

Yet looking through a deeper lens, undergarments also represent social class, race, age, and sexuality. They underscore how women from different levels of societies and cultures saw themselves individually and collectively and this impacted and fragmented the feminist movements. Perhaps by freeing ourselves from the internal oppression that undergarments represented, we can free ourselves to embrace a more united, diverse, and activist women’s movement. As Lizzo exclaimed, "It's about darn time!"

Featured speakers, Dr. Rebecca Hunt, full-time writer and retired CU Denver professor, and Dr. Majel Boxer, associate professor of Native American & Indigenous Studies at Fort Lewis College, will join the panelists in presenting research related to the Symposium theme. 

Organizers have designed the Symposium for educators, museum professionals, researchers, and individuals from all walks of life.  We welcome people of all ages, from middle school to 100+, to participate. We stand for diversity and inclusion. We welcome people of all genders and seek to uplift the experiences of those who identify as women, femme folx, transwomen/transfeminine, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and genderqueer.

The 2023 Symposium is an all-day event featuring multiple panel discussions, presentations, lunch, and a keynote presentation and will take place on Saturday, November 18 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the History Colorado Center in Denver.

Symposium Schedule

8:30 am Check-in Begins

9:00 am

  • Welcome, Susan Fries, Deputy Community Museum Officer and Director of the Center for Colorado Women’s History
  • Introduction to Community Art Project: UndergARTments activity

9:15 am

  • Introduction to the History of Undergarments, Dr. Rebecca Hunt

10:15 am

  • Panel 1: The Undergarments of Sex Workers, Cassidy Nemick, Ann Sneesby-Koch

11:00 am

  • Ehanna Dakota Heyake: Change and Continuity in Dakota People's Clothing in the Pre- and Early Reservation Eras, Dr. Majel Boxer

11:45 am Boxed Lunch, included with registration

12:00 pm

  • Keynote Speaker: Beyond Undergarments, Powerful Women Inside, Juana Bordas, followed by book signing.

1:30 pm

  • Panel 2: A Visit from Your Aunt Flo: A History of Menstrual Products from Sanitary Belts to Adhesive Pads, Anna Weissman, PhD, Senior Exhibit Developer
  • Intricate Intimacies: Embroidering Femininities in the Late 19th to Early 20th Centuries, Janan Graham

2:30 pm

  • Community Art Project: UndergARTments created in collaboration with Athena Project, final activity steps and wrap-up with tea and cookies

3:00 pm Adjourn


All day:

History Colorado Collections on display throughout the event;

Community Art Project: UndergARTments created in collaboration with Athena Project to be displayed with exhibit opening in 2024 at Center for Colorado Women’s History 


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Juana Bordas

Dr. Juana Bordas is the author of Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age and The Power of Latino Leadership. Both books received the International Latino Book Award and are break-through work in the multicultural leadership field. Her new edition of The Power of Latino Leadership ¡Ahora! was released March 2023 and can be ordered on Amazon or your local bookstore.

Juana served as advisor to Harvard’s Hispanic Journal, the Kellogg National Fellows, as trustee of Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and International Leadership Association (ILA). She was the first Latino to receive ILA’s life-time achievement award. As a founder and Executive Director for Mi Casa Resource Center, founding president of The National Hispana Leadership Institute and The Circle of Latina Leadership, she was commended by Latina Style Magazine for creating “a Nation of Latina Leaders.”

Juana was the first in her family to graduate from college. She then served the Peace Corps in Chile and worked organizing production cooperatives in the barrios of Santiago. Today this type of microenterprise work is recognized as foundational for assisting people achieve economic security.


The Symposium will be formatted as a panel discussion with short presentations and plenty of time for Q&A and audience participation. Tickets are $35 for non-members ($30 for members, scholarships and student pricing available). 

For information about the event, please contact Cat Jensen at


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