Gerda Lerner (1920-2013), the important scholar in women’s history was born and educated in Austria. Born on April 30, 1920 in Vienna, shortly after the annex in 1939 she immigrated to New York due to her Jewish background. In 1966 she completed her PhD at Columbia University, the next year she published her thesis as The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina: Rebels Against Slavery (1967). The beginning of her scholarly work she dedicated to class analyses in women’s history and Afro-American women’s history and did studies like Black Women in White America: A Documentary History (1972) and The Female Experience: Documents in American History (1976). Then, in the 1970s her research interest shifted to Europe where she questioned patriarchy and the subordinated role of women. Most of her essays are published in The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (1979) and Why History Matters (1997). With the publications The Creation of Patriarchy (1986), The Creation of Feminist Consciousness (1993), Why History Matters: Life and Thought (1997), The Feminist Thought of Sarah Grimké (1997) and Fireweed: A Political Autobiography (2002) Gerda Lerner advanced to one of the most significant theorists in women’s history, also recognized by the amount of received honours for her important scholarly work. Living With History/Making Social Change (2009) is a collection of Gerda Lerner’s autobiographical essays. The feminist and historian pioneer Gerda Lerner passed away on January 2, 2013.
– Gerda Lerner talked about her new book, Why History Matters: Life and Thought
(Aug 24, 1997)