PANEL: Motherhood and the Body

Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 10:00 AM

This panel will be moderated by current SLC women’s history student, Tiffany-Latrice Williams. 

Finding Wilhelmina Geipel: An Immigrant Midwife in Queens, 1884-1914

Jennifer Garvey

Immigrant midwives played a large role in helping other immigrant women assimilate into the American Dream, creating a more comfortable and familiar space than a foreign American hospital. German-American midwife Wilhelmina Geipel was one such midwife; she delivered babies for many years in Queens. This project explores why Geipel continued her midwifery practice after her family was financially stable and she was not required to work,, sometimes traveling as far as eight miles to deliver babies.
Jennifer Garvey is a current MA candidate in women’s history at Sarah Lawrence College. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Pace University. 


Seeing Red: Mother Bloor’s Crusade for Justice in Industrial America

Maureen Sherrard Thompson

Labor activist Ella Reeve Bloor was perhaps one of the most radical of the late-19th and early 20th century women reformers, yet remains relatively unknown. From early on, Bloor had a passion for the underprivileged. She spent much of her life with the poor, getting to know them in their homes and organizing for them in the face of much opposition, including several arrests. She later became an advocate for the imprisoned, especially for conscientious objectors to world War I. Throughout her life of activism, Bloor traveled the country several times, gaining support and raising funds for her many causes. When she became disenfranchised within the Socialist party when the party agreed not to strike in World War I, Bloor became a charter member of the American Communist Party, for which she campaigned until her death in 1951.

Maureen Sherrard Thompson earned a master’s degree in history from Temple University, where she also received bachelor’s degrees in women’s studies and history. Her master’s thesis is titled, “Rural Solutions in the Industrial age: Joseph Fels, the Single Tax, and Land Reform.”

PANEL: Textile Activism, Shopping, Dress Reform and Justice

Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

This panel will be moderated by Gayle Fischer of Salem State College.

Outerwear to Underwear: The Dress Reform Movement in the Nineteenth Century

Traci L. Gott

Women’s clothing in the 19th century was restrictive and unhealthy across all social classes. Women wore tight-laced corsets, multiple petticoats, restrictive garters, among other uncomfortable and often-harmful garments. The dress-reform movement, carried out by members of the women’s-rights movement, utopian communities, and health reformers, aimed to design women’s clothing that was less limiting. Although unassociated with men’s clothing, each group produced a variation of a women’s trouser. Intense public outcry about the ‘gender’ of clothing, particularly the ‘male’ trouser,  prompted many of these reforms underground. However, the health reformers kept the movement going in the public eye, but shifted their focus from outerwear to undergarments in order to avoid public criticism. Their reforms led to many of the fashion trends seen in the coming decades, namely the 1920s, when women’s clothing was significantly modified for the first time since the Middle Ages.

Traci L. Gott is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Buffalo, where she also teaches American Studies. She earned bachelor’s degrees from Northeastern State University and master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma. 


Solidarity through Shopping: Depression-Era Activism for Worker Justice

Beth Robinson 

The League of Women Shoppers (LWS) was founded in 1935 as a response to a New York department-store strike. Using the slogan “Use your buying power for justice,” the LWS conducted investigations into labor disputes, produced propaganda, and developed campaigns around local and national labor issues. The LWS  were committed to direct action and focused on campaigns that included letter-writing , boycotts, walking picket lines, and non-violent civil disobedience. This paper argues that the LWS carried on the ideals of the New Deal, which set a clear standard of what working conditions should be in a democratic country.

Beth Robinson earned a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she is currently a lecturer in women’s studies. She has published two pieces for the Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, 2nd Edition, and will soon publish a piece in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 titled “How did the League of Women Shoppers Use Their Privilege to act in Solidarity with Workers?.”

PANEL: Women and Cultural Activism

Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

This panel will be moderated by current SLC Women’s History student, Robert Leleux.

Out South of the Salt Line: Lesbians in the Court of Public Opinion

Debbie Hicks

Tourists recall images of the Gulf South port of Mobile, Alabama: teen Azalea Trail Maids as a pastel curtsy of antebellum hoop skirts; maskers rocking Mardi Gras floats; hurricane flooded bayous, and record-busting deep-sea fishing rodeos. Each image speaks, in part, to an aspect of history, custom, and values shaping the lives of women and their families living in a city which boasts a colonial legacy as birthplace of French Creole culture and Mardi Gras in America. Yet lesbians and other gender-minority women in coastal Alabama, like all women in the Deep South, can rightly claim less significant if less heard herstories of advocacy. Our discussion identifies lesbian advocates, their organizations, and strategies which advanced social justice for lesbians and other minority genders in the Mobile area.

Debbie Hicks is an independent scholar who lives and writes about the lives of women and gender-minorities in coastal Alabama, as well as historically segregated Indian communities in the Deep South. She is an activist whose work has included community organizing for civil rights starting in 1977, during which time she participated in the Student Coalition for Community Health (SCCH) to offer the first integrated health care program serving all residents in a rural Alabama community. She currently coordinates Charlotte’s Tree, a volunteer program that recycles materials destined for landfill to assist low-income persons.

Womanspace Gallery: From the Laundromat to the Woman’s Building

Elizabeth Dastin

Los Angeles during the 1970s was host to a wealth of significant art historical feminist activity. The best known is the 1972 installation, Womanhouse, organized by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro. As an homage to and extension of these efforts, the cooperative gallery Womanspace (1973-1974) opened its doors and the following year, as did the Woman’s Building (1973-1991), a non-profit arts and education center. Although the Woman’s Building closed in 1991, its legacy has recently generated a surge of interest, culminating in a 2011 Getty sponsored exhibition which historicized its contributions to feminist communities in Los Angeles… I correct the glaring omission of Womanspace within the narrative of the Woman’s Building and locate the gallery as an overlooked and instrumental player within feminist activity in Los Angeles. …I extend the Getty’s energies to unearth a narrative for the post-war art scene in Los Angeles to include Womanspace and its contributions to the regional expressions of 1970s feminism.

Elizabeth Dastin is a PhD candidate in Art History with a certificate in Women’s Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. She holds an MA from Christie’s and a BA from Wellesley College. She has taught and lectured at a number of institutions in New York and California, and she currently teaches at Santa Monica College.

Women and Political Activism in Selected Novels by Julia Alvarez

Naglaa Hasaan

Julia Alvarez (1950- ), a Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist, is known for her engagement with the political dilemmas of her native country, the Dominican Republic. In her novels In the Time of the Butterflies (1991) and In the Name of Salome (1994), she not only grapples with the traumatic historical experiences of Caribbean islands under dictatorship but she also foregrounds the role of women in creating a new revolutionary spring. Alvarez’s novels will be read in light of Foucault’s theory with particular focus on the mechanisms of power and resistance, how power works out to subjugate people and how resistance can take multiple forms, primary among which are discursive practices. To apply Foucault’s concepts to Alvarez’s feminist/political novels will cast mutual light on both writers, elucidating their views in a way that weds theory and practice.

Naglaa Saad Mohamed Hassan earned her PhD from Cairo University in Egypt. Her dissertation, completed in 2009, is entitled, “Cultural Politics in Selected Works of Derek Walcott: A Study in Postcolonial Theory and Practice.” She is a Fulbright scholar and currently lectures in English at Fayoum University. Her other accomplishments include numerous translations from English to Arabic, and articles exploring the Muslim world and Arab cultural identity.

PANEL: Battling Feminists and Reds: Anti-Feminism and Anti-Communism in the Twentieth Century

Saturday, March 2, 2013 10:00 AM

Interpreting Women’s Activism in Red Scare America, 1919-1929

Erica Ryan

In the Red Scare that followed World War I, antiradicals, anti-moderns, and
antifeminists expressed their conviction that just like Bolshevism, feminist activists
would bring disorder and unrest to the United States. This phenomenon is best
exemplified in the experience of Louise Bryant, an American radical, activist, writer,
and the wife of America’s most prominent “Bolshevik,” John Reed. Anxious Americans
tried Bryant in the court of public opinion for her radicalism and her sympathy for Soviet
Russia. In this case and in many others, Americans used discussions about women as
a privileged site through which to discuss what they saw as a larger social and cultural
struggle between Bolshevism and Americanism, between social radicalism and social
conservatism. This relationship between sex disorder and political disorder, one framed
by the dislocations of wartime and the specter of internationalism, marked Americans’
thinking on gender norms and family life as well as on politics and citizenship in the
decade to come.

Erica Ryan is a Sarah Lawrence College alumna, and she holds an M.A. in History and Ph.D. from Brown University. She is an Assistant Professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where she teaches U.S. History, Women’s History, History of Gender and Sexuality, and World History. Her work War on the Family: Sex, Gender, and Americanism, 1919-1929 is to be published in Fall 2013 by the Temple University Press.


Defining Family, Defining Nation: Gender and Patriotism in 1960s California

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

In 1968 California, Republican Max Rafferty built his U.S. Senate campaign
around an attack on the “cowards and Communists” populating California’s educational
institutions. Nearby Rafferty’s Los Angeles campaign headquarters, officers of Women
Strike for Peace, a radical feminist-pacifist group, spoke in a disarmingly similar idiom.
In response to the vandalism of the group’s office, the group issued a press release
demanding to know the “identity of these ‘brave’ men who hide behind the ‘curtain’
of violence and death threats… They are cowards.” Across the political spectrum,

California’s burgeoning and diversifying populace considered the very fabric of American
patriotism and morality under siege, and issues of gender and family were at the
forefront of these concerns. While historians have begun to identify how the coalescing
Right married concerns over sexual morality and patriotism, this paper is unique in
exploring how these anxieties mobilized citizens of all political stripes, thus explaining
the depth of the social transformations afoot in the late 1960s.

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela received her B.A. in History from Columbia College, and her Ph.D. in History from Stanford University. She currently works as Co-Chair of Education Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School in NYC. She has two works under review at the moment, her book manuscript Schooled Right: The Educational Origins of Modern Conservatism and her article “The Roots of Polarization: Max Rafferty, Education, and the Roots of Modern Conservatism”.


Red Feminism? Debating ‘Family Values’ in New York State, 1970-1980

Stacie Taranto

New York State, especially New York City, was a key center of modern feminism
– but, perhaps because feminist reform was so strong there, the state was also home
to a growing conservative “family values” movement in the 1970s. These family
value conservatives were disappointed to see the Democratic Party, by the 1970s,
increasingly advocate using taxpayer dollars to finance feminist-backed initiatives such
as sex education programs in public schools and Medicaid-financed abortions at the
state level. Conservative family values women campaigned against these initiatives by
branding them not only “anti-family,” but as communist. The women’s activism helped
give conservative Republicans in the state an electoral base and set of issues to usurp
power from both Democrats and more powerful pro-feminist moderates in their own
party – trends in the state of New York that also occurred on the national level during
the 1970s as the political right embraced a limited, conservative definition of the family
that is still at the center of its political rhetoric and policies.

Stacie Taranto received her A.B. in History from Duke University, and both her A.M. and Ph.D. in history from Brown University. She currently works as an Assistant Professor of History at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she teaches a variety of U.S. History and Women’s History courses. She currently has a book manuscript under contract, Kitchen Table Politics: Conservative Women and Family Values in the Seventies.

PREVIEW: 15th Annual Women’s History Month Conference in Honor of Amy Swerdlow


“Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty?” — Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress’ Women’s History Month archives.

Hello women’s history enthusiasts and loyal readers!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year– namely, WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH! To kick off the month of March, Sarah Lawrence College’s Women’s History graduate program hosts an annual conference, centered around a theme in women’s history and activism. This year, our conference honors the late Amy Swerdlow, historian, activist, member of Women Strike for Peace, and former director of the WH program at SLC. Swerdlow expertly combined scholarship and activism in her own amazing life, and we draw on her example as inspiration for the work and message of this year’s celebration.


As a member of the conference’s committee, I was privileged to read and select from the brilliant submissions to our conference this year. In the next day or two, the Re/visionist team will be posting excerpts from the papers that will be featured at the conference on March 1st and 2nd, 2013.

In the mean time, mark your calendars and don’t forget to REGISTER HERE so that when you arrive at Heimbold Auditorium on March 1st and/or 2nd, there will be a lovely folder with your name on it!

I can’t wait to see you all there for a day and a half of illuminating and diverse presentations on the intersection of feminisms, activisms, and scholarship in the study of women’s history.



SLC to Screen Documentary on Masculinity, “Tough Guise” – Tuesday 2/19 @ 8 PM



TOUGH GUISE: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity

A documentary by Jackson Katz, Jeremy Earp, and Sut Jhally

Film Screening & Discussion

Tuesday February 19th, 8pm in Titsworth Lecture Hall

(click here to watch the trailer)

Further discussion will take place at the Feminist Collective Meeting on Wednesday February 20th at 7pm in the Tea Haus

Pizza will be served

Brought to you by the Feminist Collective and the Women’s History Graduate Program


We at R/V would love to see you there, and feel free to comment on this post with your thoughts on the film!