Women's History in Motion

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WOMEN’S HISTORY IN MOTION Celebrating the Career of ALICE KESSLER-HARRIS

April 28-29, 2016 Columbia University Law School Jerome Green Hall 435 West 116th Street New York, 10027


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ALICE KESSLER-HARRIS Alice Kessler-Harris is a pioneering scholar in the history of American labor and the comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of women and gender. Coming from a long line of political activists, Kessler-Harris has been engaged with the feminist movement since early in her career, both in promoting women historians’ professional advancement and in analyzing women and gender as subjects of historical inquiry. “Our interest in women was a product of our politics, not of our training,” she stated in an interview from 2000. Born in Leicester, England to Hungarian refugees, Kessler-Harris received her B.A. from Goucher College in 1961 and her Ph.D. from Rutgers in 1968. She is currently the R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History and also Professor in the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University. Kessler-Harris has also taught at Rutgers University, where she served as director of the women’s studies program, as well as Hofstra University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Temple University. While at Hofstra, she was the director of a bachelor’s degree program for union members of Distributive Workers of America Local District 65. She was the first faculty member at Columbia with a joint appointment in Women’s Studies and in History. She is a former president of the Organization of American Historians, as well as the Labor and Working-Class History Association and the American Studies Association, and was one of the early members of the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession. KesslerHarris is currently working on an upcoming online course, “Women Have Always Worked,” for ColumbiaX on edX. Kessler-Harris was an expert witness in the high profile Supreme Court Case, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sears, Roebuck and Co, in 1986. She testified on the behalf of the class action plaintiffs, arguing that Sears had discriminated against its employees by not promoting women into high paying, commission sales jobs or into even low-level administrative managerial positions.


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Kessler-Harris is the author of many influential works, including: In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America (2001); Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (1982); A Woman’s Wage: Historical Meanings and Social Consequences (1990); and Women Have Always Worked: A Historical Overview (1981). She is co-editor of Protecting Women: Labor Legislation in Europe, Australia, and the United States, 1880-1920 (1995) and U.S. History as Women’s History (1995). Some of Kessler-Harris’ essays in women’s labor history are collected in Gendering Labor History (2007). Her most recent book is A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman (2012). She is the co-editor of a forthcoming collection that grew out of an interdisciplinary workshop, “Social Justice After the Welfare State,” exploring the implications of the rise of neoliberalism and declining welfare state for American politics, gender, and race relations. She is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Joan Kelly, Philip Taft, Herbert Hoover, and Bancroft Prizes. Kessler-Harris has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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SCHEDULE OF EVENTS Thursday, April 28 Jerome Greene Hall, Room 103 4pm

Welcome, History and IRWGS colleagues

4:30-7pm

[U.S.] History as Women’s History: Starting Out Linda Gordon, Linda K. Kerber, Blanche Wiesen Cook, William H. Chafe, Nancy Cott, Deborah Gray White, Temma Kaplan Moderators: Carroll Smith-Rosenberg and Susan Ware

Friday, April 29 Jerome Greene Hall, Room 103 8:30-9am

Breakfast

9 -11am

Organizing the Unorganizable: Gendering Labor History Annelise Orleck, Daniel Katz, Joseph A. McCartin, Sharon Harley, Colleen O’Neill, Lara Vapnek Moderators: Ruth Milkman and Nancy MacLean

11-11:30am

Coffee Break

11:30–1:30pm

The Gendered Imagination: From Women to Gender and Beyond Jennifer Brier, Rachel Van, Sara Dubow, Jessica Adler, Stephen Robertson Moderators: Nancy Hewitt and Jenny Carson

1:30-3pm

Lunch Break

3 – 5pm

In Pursuit of Equity: Social Change through Social Policy Karen Balcom, Beatrix Hoffman, Mary Poole, Suzanne Kahn, Jason Petrulis, Annette Igra Moderators: Elaine Tyler May and Sara Evans

5:15 – 6pm

Alice Kessler-Harris: The Radical Consequences of Incremental Change Moderators: Eric Foner and Carol Sanger

6 – 8pm

Reception, Jerome Green Hall, Jerome Greene Annex


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PARTICIPANT BIOGRAPHIES JESSICA ADLER, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Department of Health Policy & Management, Florida International University Jessica Adler’s research focuses on the history of U.S. health, social, and welfare policy, and the impact of war on citizens’ health. She has written and spoken about her research in diverse venues, including the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, USA Today, and National Public Radio. A former newspaper reporter, her stories were awarded prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association. In 2013, she was a winner of Columbia University’s Bancroft Dissertation Award. KAREN BALCOM, Associate Professor of History, McMaster University Karen Balcom holds a Ph.D. in Modern U.S. History and Women’s History from Rutgers University. Her research is on the history of transnational and transracial adoption, explored through feminist research methodologies. She is the author of The Traffic in Babies: Cross Border Adoption and Baby-Selling Between the United States and Canada, 1930-1972 (2011). Her current research interests lie in U.S. immigration law, race and transnational adoption to the U.S. in the period 1945-1961, and in the pedagogy of community-engaged education. JENNIFER BRIER, Director and Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies, and Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois at Chicago Jennifer Brier recieved her Ph.D. in History from Rutgers University. She specializes in U.S. gay and lesbian history, the history of sexuality and gender, and public history. Brier is the author of Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Response to the AIDS Crisis (2009). Brier curated, with Jill Austin, Out in Chicago, the Chicago History Museum’s award winning exhibition on LGBT history in Chicago that ran from May 2011 to March 2012. She is currently at work on a public history project called History Moves, a communitycurated mobile gallery. JENNY CARSON, Associate Professor, Department of History, Ryerson University Jenny Carson studies twentieth century American women’s labor history with a particular focus on the history of service work and women’s organizing in the U.S. Her article, “‘Taking on Corporate Bullies’: Cintas, Laundry Workers, and Organizing in the 1930s and Twenty-First Century,” published in Labor Studies Journal was chosen by the journal as the best article of 2010. Her book manuscript, ‘It was up to All of us to Fight’: Women, Work, and Resistance in the Laundry Industry, is under contract with the University of Illinois Press. As well as researching the historical roots of worker mobilizations, Carson currently is part of a five-year project investigating how lowwage workers and their allies are responding collectively to the growth of precarious employment in the twenty first century.


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WILLIAM H. CHAFE, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History Emeritus, Duke University Much of William Chafe’s professional scholarship reflects his long-term interest in issues of race and gender equality. The author of twelve books overall, he has received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina and the Black Struggle for Freedom (1980), the Sidney Hillman book award for Never Stop Running: Allard Lowenstein and the Struggle to Save American Liberalism (1993), and the Lillian Smith Award for Remembering Jim Crow (2003). NANCY COTT, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Harvard University Most of Nancy Cott’s work in U.S. history focuses on gender questions. Her interests also include social movements, political culture, law, and citizenship. Her books include: The Bonds of Womanhood: ‘Woman’s Sphere’ in New England, 1780-1835 (1977), The Grounding of Modern Feminism (1987), and Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (2000). Her current project concerns Americans who came of age in the 1920s and shaped their lives internationally. Since writing Public Vows, Cott has been an expert witness and led in writing historians’ amicus briefs on the history of marriage in same-sex marriage cases in both state and federal courts. SARA DUBOW, Associate Professor of History and Chair, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, Williams College Sara Dubow received her Ph.D. in U.S. History from Rutgers University. Her first book, Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America was published by Oxford University Press in 2010, and won the 2011 Bancroft Prize. She is currently working on a project about the history of conscientious objection and religious exemptions, and a biography of Dorothy Kenyon. SARA EVANS, Regents Professor Emerita, Department of History, University of Minnesota Sara Evans has spent her career teaching women’s history at the University of Minnesota after completing her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina in 1976. Her research has focused on the history of feminism as a social movement, motivated by her own involvement in civil rights, anti-war, and women’s rights activism. Her books include: Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left (1979), Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century’s End (2003), Born for Liberty (1989), and Wage Justice: Comparable Worth and the Paradox of Technocratic Reform (1989, with Barbara J. Nelson). ERIC FONER, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University Eric Foner specializes in the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and nineteenth century America. He is one of only two persons to serve as President of the Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, and Society of American Historians. He has also been the curator of several museum exhibitions, including the prize-winning “A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln,” at the Chicago Historical Society. His book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery won the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Lincoln prizes for 2011. His latest book is Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (2016).


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LINDA GORDON, University Professor of the Humanities and Florence Kelley Professor of History, New York University Linda Gordon’s early books focused on the historical roots of social policy issues, particularly as they concern gender and family issues. More recently, she has explored other ways of presenting history to a broad audience, publishing the microhistory The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction (1999) and the biography Dorothea Lange: A Life beyond Limits (2009), both of which won the Bancroft Prize. She is one of only three historians to have won this award twice. Her most recent book is Feminism Unfinished (2014). DEBORAH GRAY WHITE, Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University Deborah Gray White most recently is a coauthor, with Mia Bay and Waldo E. Martin, of Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, With Documents (2012). She is also the author of Ar’n’t I A Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South (1985 and 1999), the first gendered analysis of the institution of slavery; Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 (1999); and Let My People Go: African Americans, 1804-1860 (1996); and the editor of Telling Histories: Black Women in the Ivory Tower (2008). SHARON HARLEY, Associate Professor of African American Studies, University of Maryland Sharon Harley researches black women’s labor history and racial and gender politics. She is the editor and a contributor to the noted anthologies Sister Circle: Black Women and Work (2002) and Women’s Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices (2008). Her most recent publication is an essay titled “The Solidarity of Humanity: Anna Julia Cooper’s Personal Encounters and Thinking about the Intersectionality of Race, Gender, and Oppression” (2015). Her Timetables of African American History (1996) was selected by the New York Times as a Book of the Month. NANCY HEWITT, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History and Women’s & Gender Studies, Rutgers University Nancy Hewitt has taught at the University of South Florida, Duke University, the University of Cambridge, and Rutgers University. Her research focuses on women’s activism, feminism, women and work, and community studies/ethnography. Hewitt has authored two monographs: Women’s Activism and Social Change: Rochester, New York, 1822- 1872 (1984) and Southern Discomfort: Women’s Activism in Tampa, Florida, 1880s-1920s (2001), and several edited collections. Hewitt is completing a biography of a nineteenth century abolitionist, free thinker and woman’s rights advocate entitled “Radical Friends: The Activist Worlds of Amy Kirby Post, 1802-1889.” BEATRIX HOFFMAN, Professor of History, Northern Illinois University Beatrix Hoffman is a historian of the U.S. health care system. Her latest book, Health Care For Some (2012), is a history of rights and rationing in the United States from the Great Depression through Obamacare.


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ANNETTE IGRA, Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies, Carleton College Annette Igra earned her M.A. in women’s history at Sarah Lawrence College and her Ph.D. at Rutgers University. Since joining Carleton College in 1994 as a specialist in American women’s history, she has served as chair of the History Department and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She is the author of Wives without Husbands: Marriage, Desertion, and Welfare in New York, 1900-1935 (2007). SUZANNE KAHN, Fellow, New York Historical Society Suzanne Kahn received her Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University. Her dissertation, “Divorce and the Politics of the American Social Welfare Regime, 19692001,” examines how rising divorce rates shaped the politics and policies around women’s access to economic resources. This year, she is a fellow at the New York Historical Society, where she has helped produce Alice Kessler-Harris’s forthcoming MOOC, “Women Have Always Worked.” TEMMA KAPLAN, Distinguished Professor of History, Rutgers University As a comparative historian, Temma Kaplan is interested in women, gender, and sexuality and their impact on political popular culture in Spain, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States. This has led her to study Spanish anarchism, puppet theater, modern art, photography, political cartoons, historical memory, and various forms of direct democratic movements in Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. She is the author of Taking Back the Streets: Women, Youth, and Direct Democracy (2004), Crazy for Democracy: Women’s Grassroots Movements (1997), and Democracy: A World History (2015), among others. DANIEL KATZ, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Metropolitan College of New York Daniel Katz is the former Provost of the National Labor College. From 2004 to 2012, Katz served as a faculty member at SUNY Empire State College in New York City and in several different administrative roles there, including Chair of the Master of Arts program in Policy Studies. Prior to that, he had administrative appointments at Hunter College and Rutgers University. Katz is a scholar of labor history and includes among his publications two books and several articles. LINDA K. KERBER, May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts, Professor of History Emerita and Lecturer in the College of Law Linda K. Kerber received her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. She has served as president of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Studies Association. Kerber’s scholarship has emphasized the history of citizenship, gender, and authority. Her books include No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship (1998), Toward an Intellectual History of Women (1997), Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (1980), and Federalists in Dissent: Imagery and Ideology in Jeffersonian America (1970).


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NANCY MACLEAN, William H. Chafe Professor of History, Public Policy and Women’s Studies, Duke University Nancy MacLean is President of the Labor and Working Class History Association. She is the author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan (1994), Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006), and two books for course use. She is currently writing Chaining Leviathan: The DecadesLong Plan of the Radical Right to Shackle Democracy (forthcoming, 2016). ELAINE TYLER MAY, Regents Professor, Departments of American Studies and History, University of Minnesota Elaine Tyler May is a past president of the OAH and the American Studies Association. Her books include: America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation (2010); Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (1988); Barren in the Promised Land: Childless Americans and the Pursuit of Happiness (1997); Pushing the Limits: American Women, 1940-1961 (1996); and Great Expectations: Marriage and Divorce in Post-Victorian America (1980). She is currently working on a book project exploring the quest for security in America. JOSEPH A. MCCARTIN, Professor of History and Director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University Joseph A. McCartin is an expert on U.S. labor, social and political history. His research focuses on the intersection of labor organization, politics, and public policy. He is the author most recently of Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers and the Strike that Changed America (2011), recipient of the 2012 Richard A. Lester Prize as Best Book in Labor Relations and Labor Economics. RUTH MILKMAN, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, City University of New York Graduate Center and the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies Ruth Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements who has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the U.S. She is the author of numerous works, including: Farewell to the Factory: Auto Workers in the Late Twentieth Century (1997), Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II (1986), and Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy (2013). COLLEEN O’NEILL, Associate Professor of History, Utah State University Colleen O’Neill served as an editor of the Western Historical Quarterly from 20042015. She is also the author of Working the Navajo Way (2005) and co-editor of Native Pathways (2004). Her work has appeared in the The Journal of American History, New Mexico Historical Review, Labor History, and in several comparative anthologies. She is currently working on a book called Labor and Sovereignty: The Transformation of Work in Indian Country, 1890-1990.


10 WOMEN’S HISTORY IN MOTION ANNELISE ORLECK, Professor of History, Dartmouth College Among other books, Annelise Orleck is the author of Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States (1995) and Storming Caesar’s Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty (2005). More recently she has published a co-edited volume, The War on Poverty, 1964-1989: A New Grassroots History (2011). Her newest book is Rethinking American Women’s Activism (2014). She is now at work on a book about today’s global uprising of low-wage workers. JASON PETRULIS, Bicentennial Research Fellow, History Department, Colgate University Jason Petrulis is a historian of capitalism, culture, and politics in U.S. and global perspective at Colgate University. He has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council project for Transregional Research: Inter-Asian Contexts and Connections; and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. His research examines how people, things, ideas, and capital move. He is currently working on two projects: “Wig: The Story of a Cold War Commodity, 1958-79” and “America the Brand: How Government and Advertising Learned To Sell America.” MARY POOLE, Chair of Global Studies, Faculty of Masters Program in Social Justice and Human Rights, Co-Director of Maasai Community Partnership Project, Prescott College Mary Poole has a background in public policy, a doctorate in U.S. History, and years of experience in international development and indigenous rights, all of which have informed her work as a faculty member at Prescott College, a Liberal Arts School for the Environment and Social Justice in Arizona. Her first book, The Segregated Origins of Social Security: African Americans and the Welfare State (2006) explores the history of race discrimination and social policy. She is currently co-authoring the autobiography of Meitamei Olol Dapash, London is Burning: the Life of a Maasai Activist, as well as a manuscript on the work of decolonizing research in Maasailand. STEPHEN ROBERTSON, Director, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and Department of History and Art History, George Mason University Stephen Robertson is a cultural and social historian of the twentieth century U.S. Since 2003, digital history has occupied a central place in his research, in the form of Digital Harlem, a site that offers visualizations of everyday life in the 1920s. The site won the American Historical Association’s inaugural Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History and the American Library Association’s ABC-CLIO Digital History Prize in 2010. Robertson is the author of Crimes against Children: Sexual Violence and Legal Culture in New York City, 1880-1960 (2005), and co-author of Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars. CAROL SANGER, Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law, Columbia University Carol Sanger earned her A.B. from Wellesley College in 1970 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1976. Sanger writes primarily in the area of regulated relationships between mothers and children, and is currently completing a book on abortion that examines the furore surrounding abortion in twenty first century U.S. She is the author of Family Law Stories (2007), among others.


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CARROLL SMITH-ROSENBERG, Professor Emerita of History, American Culture, and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan Carroll Smith-Rosenberg is known for her path-breaking scholarship in U.S. women’s and gender history. Her current work addresses national identity formation and the exclusionary aspects of modern citizenship. She is the author of Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (1985), This Violent Empire: The Birth of an American National Identity (2012), and Religion and the Rise of the American City: The New York City Mission Movement, 1812-1870 (1971). RACHEL VAN, Assistant Professor of History, California Poly Pomona Rachel Van specializes in American merchant capitalism in the late 18th - early 19th centuries with a particular emphasis on family capitalism and Americans in the Pacific. She received her Ph.D. in U.S. History from Columbia University. She was fortunate to receive the Bancroft Dissertation Award for 2011. In 2014, The Pacific Historical Review published her article, “The ‘Woman Pigeon’: Gender and the Anglo-American Commercial Community in Canton & Macao, 1800-1849.” Her manuscript, Family Capital: Yankee Merchant Networks and the Shaping of the Global Economy, is currently under revision. LARA VAPNEK, Associate Professor of History, St. John’s University Lara Vapnek is the author of Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920 (2009) and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: Modern American Revolutionary (2015). Vapnek’s articles appear in Feminist Studies, the Journal of Women’s History, and in Nancy Hewitt’s anthology, No Permanent Waves: Recasting the History U.S. Feminism. Her current research focuses on the politics and practices of infant feeding in New York City from the 1840s through the 1920s. SUSAN WARE, General Editor, American National Biography and Former Senior Advisor, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study A specialist in the field of women’s history and a leading feminist biographer, Susan Ware is the author and editor of numerous books on twentieth century U.S. history. Educated at Wellesley College and Harvard University, she has taught at New York University and Harvard, where she served as editor of the biographical dictionary Notable American Women: Completing the Twentieth Century (2004). Ware has long been associated with the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. BLANCHE WIESEN COOK, Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York Blanche Wiesen Cook is currently working on the third and final volume of a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. She is also author of The Declassified Eisenhower (1981). She is the former Vice-President for Research of the American Historical Association, and was Vice-President and Chair of the Fund for Open Information and Accountability (FOIA, Inc.).


Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital

Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital