Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
7 linear feet ((7 cartons) plus 1 folio+ folder, 2 audiotapes, and 64 slides, electronic records)
Series II, Correspondence (#29-56), consists mainly of professional correspondence with other historians as well as invitations to lecture, serve on boards, and advise on projects.
Series III, Professional associations (#57-152). Minutes, correspondence, committee materials, and grant proposals of the Organization of American Historians document Lerner's leadership role as a member and as president (1980-1981). Records of the Radical Historians' Caucus (#61) and the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession (#63-64) of the American Historical Association and other professional associations document her efforts to improve the status of women in her profession.
Series IV, Advisory and editorial boards, and other consulting (#153-191), contains correspondence documenting Lerner's service on the editorial boards of Signs, Clio, Schocken Books, Women's History Sources, and Notable American Women. Also included is correspondence about her advisory role on women's history film and TV documentaries; on national projects such as the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, Franklin Mint, National Women's History Week, and many others.
Series V, Conferences (#192-207), includes papers, commentary, and arrangements for history and education conferences including the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, 1969-1981.
Series VI, Writings (#208-260), consists of typescripts of Lerner's historical writings and some research material. Also included are materials relating to Lerner's filmscripts, fiction, and political and autobiographical writings.
Lerner worked first as a translator and writer. Her semi-autobiographical novel, No Farewell (1955), described life in Austria in 1934-1938, before and during the Anschluss. She also wrote filmscripts, "Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom" (1957), Black Like Me (1964), and Home for Easter (n.d.) In 1959, she resumed her education which had been interrupted by war and exile, and received her A.B. from the New School for Social Research (1963) and M.A. and Ph.D from Columbia University (1965 and 1966). In the course of her studies she decided to become a historian.
Lerner lectured on women's history at the New School in 1963. She was assistant, then associate, professor at Long Island University (1965-1967). She was a member of the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College from 1968 to 1979. She was also a member of the Seminar on American Civilization at Columbia University and a co-founder of the Seminar on Women. In 1980 she was appointed Robinson Edwards Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with the mandate to found the university's Ph.D. program in women's history. She became professor emerita in 1990.
One of the earliest proponents of women's history as a field of study, Lerner has made lasting contributions to the development of the discipline in four areas: by her distinguished research and writing, by developing curricular material in women's history, by preserving and publicizing women's history sources, and by upgrading the status of women in the historical profession.
Her research has explored abolitionism, slavery, African American women's history, and 19th-century women's history. In her later work she researched the history of patriarchy going back to the second millennium B.C. and worked on medieval European women's history. Her writings include: The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina: Rebels against Authority (1967), The Woman in American History (1971), Black Women in White America: A Documentary History (1972), The Female Experience: An American Documentary (1976), The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (1979), and Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey (1982). The Creation of Patriarchy (1986) and The Rise of Feminist Consciousness (1993), the first two volumes of Women and History, broke new ground in gender studies. Her teaching and lecturing at colleges and universities, in the U.S. and abroad, her leadership of the American Council on Education Conference on Graduate Training in Women's History (1989), and her book, Teaching Women's History (1981) have helped to shape women's history courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Like her role model Mary Beard, Lerner has also been instrumental in preserving and improving access to women's history sources. She served on the committee that launched Andrea Hinding's Women's History Sources, and served on its advisory board. She also served on the advisory board of Notable American Women, and launched and directed the FIPSE project on Black Women History, co-sponsored by the Organization of American Historians and the Association of Black Women Historians. She organized an oral history project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to interview and document the midwestern founders of the modern feminist movement. Lerner led efforts to establish National Women's History Week and to publicize and promote programs on women's history in the media, and she served on editorial boards of women's history journals and the Schocken Books project to publish source books on the women's movement. She has also consulted and advised on many other women's history projects.
Finally, as a feminist historian and founding member of the National Organization for Women, Lerner has been a model for women historians and a dynamic leader in the effort to raise the status of women in the profession. She was a founder of the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession, president of the Organization of American Historians (1981-1982), member of the American Historical Association and the Radical Historians' Caucus and was active in the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women since 1973.
Lerner described her husband's death (1973) movingly in A Death of One's Own (1978). Her autobiography, Why History Matters (1997), weaves together her life, her profession, and her philosophy of history. For further biographical information and a full bibliography through 1995, see U.S. History as Women's History (#11v).
- I. Biography
- II. Correspondence
- III. Professional associations
- IV. Advisory and editorial boards, and other consulting
- V. Conferences
- VI. Writings
Immediate Source of Acquisition
These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Gerda Lerner between February 1975 and January 1996.
- Carton 1: Folders 1, 3, 7-52
- Carton 2: Folders 53-60, 62, 65-79, 82-97
- Carton 3: Folders 98-143
- Carton 4: Folders 144-188
- Carton 5: Folders 189-214
- Carton 6: Folders 215-241
- Carton 7: Folders 242-260
- Afro-American Women--History 82, 139-149, 215-222
- American Historical Association 61-70
- Association of Black Women Historians (U.S.) 139-149
- Baker, Ella 217
- Buhle, Mari Jo 242
- Beard, Mary Ritter 194
- Berkshire Conference on the History of Women 199-201
- Bethune, Mary McLeod 168, 222
- Columbia University 15-19
- Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession 63-64
- Flexner, Eleanor 36
- Friedan, Betty 77
- Grimké, Angelina Emily 14, 16v, 157, 208-213
- Grimké, Sarah Moore 14, 16v, 157, 208-213
- Hamer, Fannie Lou 215
- Hine, Darlene Clark 139, 144, 140-143, 146-149 passim
- Hoff, Joan 132, 138
- Holden, Miriam Young 37
- James, Janet Wilson 38
- King, Martin Luther Jr. 252
- Kirkendall, Richard Stewart 129
- Lerner, Carl 12, 259-260 passim
- Lerner, Daniel 2-3
- Lerner, Stephanie 4at-5at
- Long Island University 20-24
- Lucy Stone League, Inc. 13
- Murray, Pauli 215
- New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y.) 13-14
- O'Neill, William L. 39
- Organization of American Historians 78-151f+
- Randolph, A. Philip 252
- Rose, Willie Lee Nichols 41
- Schocken Books 176-182
- Solomon, Barbara Miller 42
- Stimpson, Catharine R. 185
- Wilkins, Roy 252
By: Jane S. Knowles
- African American women--History
- Berkshire Conference on the History of Women
- College teachers--United States--Biography
- Jewish women
- Manuscripts for publication
- Web sites
- Women historians--United States
- Women's studies
- Women--Social conditions
- Women--United States--History
- Lerner, Gerda, 1920-2013. Papers of Gerda Lerner, 1950-1995: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.
3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA