Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
3 linear feet (3 cartons)
Series I, 1-20, Personal correspondence, 1985-1987, includes letters from historians and feminists with Rosalind Rosenberg's replies, supporting or criticizing Rosalind Rosenberg's testimony on behalf of Sears.
Series II, 21-48, Articles, 1985-1987, about the trial, some with Rosenberg's annotations.
Series III, 49-91v, Trial documents, consisting of written depositions and oral testimony of Rosenberg, Alice Kessler-Harris, et al., briefs, statistical analyses, other exhibits, and decisions.
The trial was held in Chicago, Illinois from September 1984 to July 1985; Judge Nordberg decided in favor of Sears in January 1986. Both sides sought to strengthen their case by including historians as expert witnesses. Sears called Rosalind Rosenberg, associate professor of history at Barnard College; the EEOC called Alice Kessler-Harris, professor of history at Hofstra University. Rosenberg argued that historically men and women have had different interests, goals, and aspirations regarding work, and that women's own attitudes made them reluctant to take risky jobs in commission sales. Therefore, she concluded, historical forces other than employer discrimination were responsible for the statistical disparities seen in the Sears data. Kessler-Harris argued that women historically have made the most of any economic climate, taking whatever jobs have been offered. Women's choice of work can be understood only within the framework of available opportunities. Kessler-Harris concluded that Sears had not done enough to counter cultural forces and to open opportunity equally to women.
The Sears case caused a storm of argument among historians of women and feminists. Letters received by Rosenberg and articles collected by her, 1985-1987, contested her historical interpretation of women's attitudes to work, and raised the philosophical issue of the role of scholars and feminists in offering their expertise to parties in lawsuits. Rosalind Rosenberg faced heavy criticism from feminists and historians alike.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Trial documents were sent to the Schlesinger Library by Morgan Associates, at the request of Rosalind Rosenberg, in September 1987; the other papers were sent by Rosalind Rosenberg in November 1987.
- Carton 1: 1-68
- Carton 2: 69-87
- Carton 3: 88v-91v
By: Jane S. Knowles
- Rosenberg, Rosalind, 1946- . Papers of Rosalind Rosenberg, 1979-1987: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
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