June 16, 1981
Vassar hosted the fifth triennial Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Over 1,500 scholars participated 136 lectures, panel discussions and workshops on topics ranging from “The Female Body and Reproduction in the Greco-Roman World” to “A General Theory of Women in History.” The conference also discussed the double challenges faced by black women, on account of their gender and color.
Professor of English Elizabeth Daniels ’41 and Associate Professor of English Barbara J. Page spoke as part of a panel on women in higher education. Visiting Professor of Women’s Studies and History Barbara Harris ‘63 and Women’s Studies coordinator Beth Darlington also participated in the conference. Principal speakers at the conference participants included keynote speaker Professor Joan W. Scott, American scholar of French history and the founder of Brown University’s Pembroke Center for the Teaching and Research on Women; Professor of History Gerda Lerner of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said to have taught the first women’s history course, at the New School for Social Research in 1963 and John Jay College’s Professor Blanche Wiesen Cook, the definitive biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Berkshire Conference began in 1928. When male historians would not allow female historians to participate in a proposed convention, female historians held the rival Berkshire Conference. Veterans of the early “Berks,” former Vassar history professors Mildred Campbell and Evalyn A. Clark ’24, attended the 1981 conference.