Gerda Lerner Women’s History Pioneer Passes Away At 92

Historian Gerda Lerner, (April 30, 1920 – January 2, 2013) a pioneer in the creation of women’s studies as an academic discipline passed away on January 2nd in Madison, Wisc. She was 92.

Gerda Lerner spent her 18th birthday in a Nazi prison, sharing a cell with two gentile women arrested for political work who shared their food with the Jewish teenager because jailers restricted rations for Jews.

Lerner was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and is credited with creating the nation’s first graduate program in women’s history, in the 1970s in New York.

She married Carl Lerner, a respected film editor, in 1941. They lived in Hollywood for a few years before returning to New York. The couple was involved in activism that ranged from attempting to unionize the film industry to working in the civil rights movement. Co-written by  Gerda and directed by Carl, the 1964 Black Like Me film based on  nonfiction book by the same title by journalist John Howard Griffin first published in 1961.

The former professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote several books in the field of women’s history, including her 1986 work “The Creation of Patriarchy” and her 1994 volume “The Creation of Feminist Consciousness.” She also edited “Black Women in White America,” one of the first books to document the struggles and contributions of black women in American history.

Authored Books:

No Farewell (1955, novel)
The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina: Rebels Against Slavery (1967)
The Woman in American History (1971)
The Female Experience: An American Documentary (1976)
A Death of One’s Own (1978, memoir)
The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (1980)
Teaching Women’s History (1981)
The Creation of Patriarchy (1986)
The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to 1870 (1993)
Why History Matters (1997)
Fireweed: A Political Autobiography (2002, memoir)

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