Trailblazing Historian Gerda Lerner Will Deliver First
Margaret Morrison Women's History Lecture at Carnegie Mellon
PITTSBURGH—Gerda Lerner, a pioneer in the field of women's history and a longtime social activist, will give the inaugural Margaret Morrison Distinguished Lecture in Women's History at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 1 in the Giant Eagle Auditorium (Baker Hall A51) at Carnegie Mellon University. The talk is free and open to the public.
Born Gerda Kronstein in 1920 to a prominent Jewish family in Austria, Lerner spent six weeks in a Nazi prison before managing to flee to the United States without her family in 1939. She married film editor and director Carl Lerner, and together they worked to unionize the film industry, battle Hollywood blacklisting, campaign for civil rights and improve public education in New York City. In 1958, Lerner pursued an academic career, exploring the previously untapped discipline of women's history. She founded the nation's first master's degree program in women's history at Sarah Lawrence College in 1972, and in 1981 established a doctoral program in women's history at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where she is now a professor emerita.
"Dr. Lerner pioneered the historical study of gender along the boundaries of race and class, and therefore broadened women's studies beyond the experiences of elite white women," said Joe Trotter, the Mellon Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon and head of its Department of History.
The Margaret Morrison Distinguished Lecture in Women's History is sponsored by the History Department and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon. The lecture is being coordinated by Lisa Tetrault, assistant professor of history, and will be given annually to mark Women's History Month (March) and highlight the university's strengths in this important discipline. Carnegie Mellon's History Department is home to some of the nation's leading historians in gender studies, and the university's Humanities Initiative underscores the growing vitality of gender studies at Carnegie Mellon.
"The Department of History is not only delighted that we are able to inaugurate this important lectureship, but pleased with yet another demonstration of the university's commitment to diversity in its myriad forms," Trotter said.
The lecture series is named for Margaret Morrison Carnegie, the mother of Andrew Carnegie, founder of Carnegie Mellon's predecessor, the Carnegie Institute of Technology. The institute was home to four schools, including Margaret Morrison Carnegie College, an all-women's school that closed in 1973.