Women of Valor


The Lady Professor at Home

Barbara Myerhoff, 1935 - 1985

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Myerhoff Speaking About the Rituals of the Passover Seder at a Conference

Barbara Myerhoff married her husband Lee in 1954, at the age of 19. Their first child, Nick, was born in 1968, after Myerhoff had completed her doctoral work. Lee Myerhoff worked as a clinical psychologist while Barbara taught at the University of Southern California.

As she sometimes commented, combining motherhood with an academic career was "very bloody hard." The elders she studied at the Israel Levin Senior Center didn't make it any easier, continually asking the "lady professor," "Tell me, who's with your children?" In later years, Nick and Matthew sometimes accompanied their mother to assist with her research.

The Myerhoff's marriage ended in divorce after 28 years together in 1982. Barbara Myerhoff included this part of her personal life in her final documentary, In Her Own Time, when she filmed the ritual of obtaining her Jewish divorce of "get".

  1. For Myerhoff's comments on being a working mother, see Sue Ellen Jares, "Forget Academic Applause: Anthropologist Barbara MyerhoffÂ’s Research Won an Oscar," People Magazine 25 Jan. 1978: 94.
  2. The quote "Tell me, who's with..." is from Barbara Myerhoff, Number Our Days (New York: Dutton, 1978) 26.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Barbara Myerhoff - The Lady Professor at Home." (Viewed on April 16, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/myerhoff/lady-professor-at-home>.