“I want women’s history to be legitimate, to be part of every curriculum on every level…..I want people to be able to take Ph.D.’s in the subject and not have to say they are doing something else.” – Gerda Lerner, from the New York Times Obituary, 1/3/13
“In the mid-1960s, armed with a doctorate in history from Columbia University…..Dr. Lerner entered an academic world in which women’s history scarcely existed. “In my courses, the teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist,”
At Sarah Lawrence, where Dr. Lerner began teaching history in 1968, she was the driving force behind what is widely credited as the first graduate program in women’s history in the United States, established in 1972.” - NY Times obituary, Jan 3th, 2013
Today, 2013, there are more than 900 women's/gender/feminist studies programs, departments, and research centers around the world with web sites. Women have reclaimed their rightful place in history, due in part to Gerda Lerner.
For me, there is a personal connection with her. The first program she launched was at Sarah Lawrence, my old alma mater, and later Dr. Lerner used my book, Particular Passions: Talks with Women Who Shaped our Times as core reading material in one of her classes.
In a first of its kind, Particular Passions: Talks with Women Who Shaped Our Times identifies the women who had an historic impact on women’s rights from the 1920s to the late 1970s, from the arts and sciences, athletics and law, mathematics and politics, among many other disciplines.
These oral biographies recorded in the 1970s, include Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Julia Child, Billie Jean King, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Diana Vreeland and forty other women. The stories capture an historic period in their own words.
Some women are world renowned, others less so, but all icons in their respective disciplines. The stories are more inspiring today considering the obstacles they overcame.
"A fresh, rich, and absorbing book. An excellent contribution to women’s literature." —Andrea Hindig, ed., A guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States