Activism and Scholarship: A Conference Honoring Amy Swerdlow and Gerda Lerner

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Activism and Scholarship: A Conference Honoring Amy Swerdlow and Gerda Lerner
15th Annual Women’s History Conference at Sarah Lawrence College

DATE: March 1-2, 2013
FEE: Free and Open to the Public
LOCATION: Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY

March is Women’s History Month. This March, Sarah Lawrence College will be hosting the 15th annual Women’s History Conference entitled “Activism and Scholarship: A Conference Honoring Amy Swerdlow and Gerda Lerner”. Save the Date.

Featuring: The keynote Address by Women’s Historian Alice Kessler Harris, distinguished professor at Columbia University and Author of A Difficult Woman The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman

Round table discussion about the life and work of Amy Swerdlow and Gerda Lerner moderated by Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of The Biography of Eleanor Roosevelt Volumes 1 and 2.

Amy Swerdlow (1923-2012), graduate and former director of the women’s history graduate program at Sarah Lawrence College was a scholar, activist, teacher, mentor and mother. She was a founding member and a significant force in Women Strike for Peace, a grassroots movement that greatly influenced the end of above ground nuclear weapons testing, especially emphasizing the effect this had on children’s health. The organization went on to protest the Vietnam War. Amy Swerdlow sat on the national board of the antiwar group known as Clergy and Laity Concerned, chaired the steering committees of two antiwar coalitions of women’s groups, the Jeannette Rankin Brigade and the Women’s Emergency Coalition, and was a member of the New York State coordinating council of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Amy Swerdlow was the quintessential activist scholar.

Gerda Lerner (1920-2013) was co-founder of the women’s history graduate program at Sarah Lawrence and a pioneer in the field of women’s history. It was out of the 1979 Summer Institute at Sarah Lawrence organized by Gerda and the Women’s Action Alliance that Women’s History Week, later Women’s History Month, was born. Gerda Lerner leaves a prestigious legacy of scholarship. She was committed to making visible the ignored and debased, debunking the mythology of the unimportance and inaction of the underrepresented. Her groundbreaking Black Women in White America: A Documentary History, for example, forever shattered elite ideas of who makes history and whose history matters.

The Fifteenth Annual Women’s History Conference at Sarah Lawrence College honors Gerda Lerner and Amy Swerdow’s life and work as committed and indomitable activist/scholars by making issues of peace and justice its central theme.

We still face unending war, economic injustice, potential environmental catastrophe, militarism, institutionalized racism, hunger, homophobia and sexism among other issues. By taking a multi-disciplinary approach, we will explore issues of global peace and justice from a variety of perspectives. We seek to understand the ways in which activists have organized around these issues now and in the past and ask the following questions: What are the issues activists have faced in the past and how might we learn from previous movements? How do current issues intersect and interact and how can activists combine forces to confront these problems and work for social change? With the spirit of Amy Swerdlow and Gerda Lerner as our legacy, can we find the energy and focus to move forward together?

Panel Discussions Include:
Uses of Space: Women’s Global and Local Resistance
Women’s Educational Activism
Transnational Peace Activism
Women’s Efforts for Peace in the U.S. and Great Britain
Women’s LGBT Activism
Women Power for Peace: Linkages in Domestic and International Anti-War and Anti-Imperialist Activism During the Vietnam Era
For more information contact: Tara Elise James,

Source(s): National Women’s History Project Blog
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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