Gerda Lerner, who founded Sarah Lawrence's Women's Studies program, has died. Lerner established the program in 1972, when she was a history professor at Sarah Lawrence. Lerner is believed to have taught the very first postwar college course in women's history back in 1963 at the New School for Social Research.
At the time of her death, Lerner was an emerita University of Wisconsin professor of women's studies. To many, she was considered the founder of the women's history field, as well as a women's movement pioneer.
Lerner was forced to move to the United States after the Nazi's came to power in Austria. While here in the U.S., she received her B.A. from the New School in New York and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia in 1966.
The trailblazing Lerner had to persuade those at Columbia to let her do her graduate work in women's history. That's because the field was not believed to be scholarly at the time.
A decade ago, Lerner published her memoir, "Fireweed: A Political Autobiography." But her greatest works are conceded to be "The Creation of Patriarchy" and "The Creation of Feminist Consciousness."
When her husband died in 1980, Lerner moved to the University of Wisconsin, so she could start up a Ph.D. program in women's history.
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