2003-03-15 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Sarah Lawrence College: Conference on Women
by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Chatting with Chapey

Sarah Lawrence College: Conference on Women's History
Dr. Geraldine ChapeyDr. Geraldine Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Sarah Lawrence College Women's History graduate program sponsored its fifth annual conference during Women's History Month. The conference was held on the campus on Friday, March 7, and Saturday, March 8. Participants came from across the United States to take part in this forum.

I moderated a panel on "Women Making a Difference". The panel took a historical perspective looking at the role of women in various events.

My mother, Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, chaired a session on "Women in Leadership". Her doctoral dissertation looked at leadership and change.

The conference focused on many diverse topics: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement; Women in Community Activities; Teaching Women's Autobiographies; Lyrics and Poems about women and ones that are written by them, and the untold stories of women who have created change.

The opening night of the conference included a performance by a poetry professor at Sarah Lawrence College. Sarah Lawrence's masters degree program is the only autonomous women's history program to give a graduate level degree in the field.

The Master of Arts program in Women's History at Sarah Lawrence College introduces students to the constantly growing literature in women's history. Students are trained in the rigors of historical interpretation and research. The curriculum prepares students for a variety of different fields, including continued academic studies toward a doctorate or other professional field. The program looks at the impact of gender, class, race, ethnicity and nationality on women as they mature and take on a variety of roles in life. The studies do concentrate on women's history and emphasis is on women in the U.S. Cross cultural work is also highlighted as an extension of the program.

The program is reinforced by the strong collections on women's history in the Esther Raushenbush Library located on the campus. Emphasis is also placed on bibliographic material.

One highlight of the conference on women's studies was the fact that the director of the conference invited many women who are leaders and who personally have effectuated change to come to the conference and participate in it. The director, Ms. James, is quoted as saying "It's nice because these are people that I admired and this gives me an excuse to bring them to campus and approach them. This is a great opportunity".

Priscilla Murolo is the director of the Women's History Program. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA and PhD from Yale University. She has a special interest in US labor and women's and social history. She is the author of many publications including "The Common Ground of Womanhood", a contributor to the Reader's Companion to US Women's History, Garland Encyclopedia of European Immigrant Women, and Technology and the Transformation of Clerical Work. She has worked on educational projects sponsored by various labor unions. She is a reviewer for the Industrial and Labor Relations Review.

One of the objectives of the conference is to celebrate the achievements of women during Women's History Month.

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