Lillian RuthKessler

Lillian Ruth Kessler created a major export company for automobile parts and heavy industrial and military equipment, making her a pioneer in a business that had been exclusively male territory. Kessler’s lifetime of “firsts” began with her role as president (and only female member) of her high school debate team. After graduating from Western Reserve University in 1929 she taught history in Cleveland’s public schools before returning to graduate studies at Western Reserve. She served as director of the Historical Records Survey in Ohio and co-edited an anthology called Songs of Yesterday in 1941. By 1943 she was an archivist at the Library of Congress, studying discontinued projects of the WPA. In 1947 she moved into the business world, creating Kessler International Corporation, which manufactured spare parts for American–built trucks, jeeps, and tanks overseas, eventually branching out into electronics, navigational equipment, and road–and–dam building supplies. She regularly travelled to volatile countries like Pakistan, Iran, and South Korea to work with clients, and the company remained successful even after health problems forced her to retire in the 1970s.

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Date of Birth

Cleveland, OH
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lillian Ruth Kessler." (Viewed on April 17, 2021) <>.


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