Gerda Lerner was a historian and scholar who pioneered the field of women’s history. Born in Vienna, Gerda became involved in the anti-Nazi resistance in 1938. After spending 6 weeks in gaol, Gerda was sponsored to emigrate to the United States.

After graduating from Columbia University with a M.A. and Ph.D, she began teaching at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, where she and historian Joan Kelly established the first graduate program in women’s history in the country. She also initiated the first doctoral program in the field at the University of Wisconsin in 1980.

A popular left-wing activist and strongly influenced by Marxism, Lerner was a communist, and this view is reflected throughout her scholarship and numerous published works.

Elected President of the Organization of American Historians in 1981, some of her best known works are: Black Women in White America: A Documentary History (editor); The Creation of PatriarchyThe Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to 1870 and Fireweed: A Political Autobiography.

“Women’s history is women’s right – an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long range vision.”