Gerda Lerner

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Gerda Lerner at Sarah Lawrence College

10 Quotes from the Jewish Founder of Women's History Month

Abby Richmond
Bella Book

Here are some choice quotes on marginality, what progress looks like, and why women’s history matters, from the Jewish woman who started it all!

Bella Abzug on the cover of "Life Magazine," June 9, 1972

Why Don’t I Know More About Bella Abzug?

Tara Metal

Among the many treats in Gloria Steinem’s new memoir My Life on the Road are the bevy of stories starring women who appear on jwa.org: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Gerda Lerner, Betty Friedan, and even Emma Goldman earned mentions. But as I read Steinem’s book, one name made more appearances than the rest: Bella Abzug.

Gerda Lerner

As the creator of some of the earliest courses in women’s studies and the chair of the conference that sparked what became National Women’s History Month, Gerda Lerner made contributions beyond measure to the field of women’s studies.

Gerda Lerner

From 1980 on, the celebration of Women's History Week, and later, Women's History Month, spread to every state, every county, and most communities in the U.S.A.

Gerda Lerner, 1981

Saluting Gerda Lerner as Women’s History Month Begins

Ellen K. Rothman

Back in the day (as we now say) when I was an undergraduate at a college that had been educating the country’s elite—all men, of course—for almost 350 years, the first ripples of Second Wave feminism were stirring things up outside the ivy covered walls. Inside, in a classroom filled entirely with women, an untenured (but well-published) female Senior Lecturer was teaching the institution’s first course on women’s history.

Gerda Lerner, 1920 - 2013

Lerner's life experience equipped her to resist conformity—in particular, questioning the societal norms insisting that women had no history.

Gerda Lerner at Sarah Lawrence College

Remembering Gerda Lerner: The "Mother" of Women's History

Joyce Antler

Gerda Lerner, pioneer in women’s history, remarkable public intellectual, and life-long activist, died this week in Wisconsin at the age of 92. A member of JWA’s Academic Advisory Council, she was enthusiastic about our mission of chronicling and transmitting the history of Jewish women. No historian was more identified with the field of women’s history. Receiving her Ph.D. at the age of 46, she wrote a series of groundbreaking books in which she almost singlehandedly created a conceptual framework for the field.

Judith Rosenbaum

From Margin to March: What to make of Women's History Month

Judith Rosenbaum

Here’s a not-so-secret little secret about me: I’m a major women’s history geek. I can go on about the stories of women’s lives for hours. Want to know about Emma Goldman?

Happy 90th Birthday, Gerda Lerner!

Leah Berkenwald

"I am a Jewish woman, I am an immigrant, and I will no longer permit others to define me." A Death of One's Own (1978).

Pioneering women's history summer institute

July 18, 1979

In the summer of 1979, a fifteen-day conference (July 13-29), co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence, the Women's Action Alliance and the Smithsonian Institution, was held at Sarah Lawrence College.

Amy Swerdlow

Amy Swerdlow (1923-2012), child of a Communist household in the Bronx, shared her parents’ dedication to making a better world but developed her own political agenda. She became a leader of the global women’s peace movement, a pioneer in the field of women’s history, and a professor of history and women’s studies at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York.

Eva Schocken

As the daughter of Salman Schocken, founder of Schocken Books, and later as editor and president, Eva Schocken pushed the publishing company to the forefront of both education and women’s studies.

Eve Merriam

Eve Merriam was an accomplished poet and playwright, best known for her books of children’s poetry that are beloved by audiences of all ages. Her life and career centered around New York, where she used her keen critical eye and unique tactile style to create poems and plays about urban life, social justice, feminism, and more. 

Gerda Lerner

Entering the field of United States history in 1966, Gerda Lerner blazed a new professional path that led to the establishment of the field of women’s history. Lerner’s force and commitment made her impervious to the ridicule with which the male-dominated profession initially responded to the notion of women’s history.

Ilona Kronstein

Ilona (Ili) Kronstein was an artist and graphic designer. In the 1930s she focused on her artistic training, working first as a graphic artist, before working in her own studio. Her work, which was not exhibited in her lifetime, was rediscovered in the late 1990s and exhibited in Vienna at The Jewish Museum.

Historians in the United States

American Jewish women have made important contributions to historical scholarship, especially in the arenas of social history of the United States and Europe, women’s history, and Jewish history. Jewish women, sensitive to the situations of minority groups, became pioneers in these fields as they developed from the 1970s on.

Communism in the United States

From the 1920s into the 1950s, the Communist Party USA was the most dynamic sector of the American left, and Jewish women—especially Yiddish-speaking immigrants and their American-born daughters—were a major force within the party and its affiliated organizations. Their numbers included community organizers, labor activists, students, artists and intellectuals. When the communist movement faded in the 1950s, these women carried radical traditions into new movements for social justice and international cooperation.

A Shout-Out to Dr. Gerda Lerner

Lily Rabinoff-Goldman

“Women’s history is women’s right – an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.” So Dr.

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