Gerda Lerner

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Gerda Lerner, (b. 1920), Austrian refugee, emeritus professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, and is a considered by some as a pioneer of women's history. "When Lerner and her fellow pioneer of women's history Anne Firor Scott first began to toil in this vineyard, women were seen--if seen at all--as marginal to the large processes of history. Only the path-breaking book by Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle, which appeared in 1959, had thoroughly broken with this tradition. For the most part, "women" belonged to social history, and social history was "pots and pans" history, all too frequently antiquarian and anecdotal and lacking connective tissue that might link it to large societal change. The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina appeared in 1967, and it set a standard for feminist biography by recovering information about two heroic women who were little known at the time—while managing to be wonderfully readable. No one could have seen the Grimkes as trivial or marginal after Gerda Lerner. In the intervening years since her first historical work appeared, Lerner helped launch the field of African-American women's history with her documentary collection Black Women in White America and also edited another distinguished collection of documents, entitled The Female Experience. She has then capped her career with a two-volume synthesis on women and history, The Creation of Patriarchy and The Creation of Feminist Consciousness." [1]

A refugee from Nazism she later became disillusioned with Communism yet expressed this has "done little to mitigate her loathing for the United States" and she has compared "life in America to living under Adolf Hitler." [1]


  1. Review of Linda K. Kerber, Alice Kessler-Harris, Kathryn Kish Sklar, U.S. History as Women's History: New Feminist Essays. Reviewed by Glenna Matthews. Retrieved from H-Net 14 July 2007.