Gerda Lerner, a pioneer in the field of women’s history and founding member of the National Organization for Woman, has died in Wisconsin. She was 92.

Her son says his mother died peacefully on Wednesday night at an assisted-living facility in Madison, the city where she founded a doctoral programme in women’s history at the University of Wisconsin.

Lerner was born in Austria to a privileged Jewish family in 1920, and spent six weeks in a Nazi prison as a teenager.

She later wrote that the experience taught her how society manipulates people, a lesson she saw reinforced by academics who suggested history was only about men.

She eventually came to the US and established the nation’s first graduate programme in women’s studies at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.

(This article was published on January 4, 2013)
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