Explore 1940-50s

Before Women’s Studies at Brandeis, 2013

Before Women's Studies at Brandeis Poster

On November 19th, 2013, in celebration of our 35th anniversary, a panel was convened of faculty members and alumni who were at Brandeis before (and during) the establishment of the Women’s studies program at Brandeis.  The program started with a talk by Joyce Antler, “We at Brandeis Must Not Lag Behind: The Push to Create […]

Choreographer Martha Graham Receives an Honorary Degree, 1956

Martha Graham

Famed choreographer, dance instructor, and dance company founder, renown dancer Martha Graham visited Brandeis University to talk at Gen. Ed. S.. Although the topic was dance, the theme of the program was revealed to be living life to its full. Described as a dynamic presenter, an animated Graham spoke about her craft and style and […]

Housing in the 1950s

donuts and cigs

Gender specific rules about housing have changed significantly since Brandeis was started. In the early 1950s new undergraduates found the dorm rules in the Student Handbook. “Here is your opportunity to read about the intricacies of women’s dormitory life,” stated the 1953-­54 Student Handbook. “We have found that male cooperation is often quite helpful in […]

Brandeis National Women’s Committee is Founded in 1948

National Women's Committee

First founded in 1948, the Brandeis University National Women’s Committee is considered the largest ‘friends of a library’ group with an estimated national membership of 48,000. It can claim over 105 nationwide chapters with its national headquarters located in Waltham, MA. The BUNWC’s main objective is the raising of funds in financial support and continued […]

Margaret Mead Speaks at Brandeis in 1952

Margaret Mead

  Margaret Mead, noted anthropologist affiliated with the Museum of Natural History, author of such seminal works as Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation  and Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies, and who was famously quoted as saying that “Never believe that a few caring people […]

Marie Syrkin, First Female Professor of English, 1950

Marie Syrkin

Marie Syrkin was the first female professor to hold an academic position in English literature at Brandeis University in 1950.  Born in Switzerland in 1899, Syrkin was the only daughter of two Russian-Jewish medical students—Nachman Syrkin, a theoretician of Labor Zionism, and Bassya Osnos Syrkin, a revolutionary activist who smuggled illegal pamphlets into Russia.  From […]

Esther Kartiganer ‘59, ‘60 Minutes’ Producer Dies at 74 in 2012

Women's Basketball team 55-56

Source:  David Nathan, Brandeis Now.  Original article can be found here. Pioneering journalist Esther Kartiganer ’59, who rose from a job as a temporary assistant at CBS to become a senior producer with the television network’s flagship “60 Minutes” news program at a time when few women held leadership positions in journalism, died of a heart attack […]

Rena Blumberg Olshanksy ’56

Rena Blumberg Olshansky

Rena Joy Blumberg Olshansky is the co-founder of the National Board of Women’s Studies at Brandeis University.  An annual prize in her honor supports research on Jewish family life. Olshansky has won numerous awards and honors herself, including the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993, the Alumni Leadership Award at Brandeis in 1993, and […]

Eleanor Roosevelt Teaching in 1958


Eleanor Roosevelt had a long and successful relationship with Brandeis University. In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees, she hosted a public television series on campus (“Prospects of Mankind”), taught International Relations, and gave the University’s first Commencement speech. Roosevelt was also a guest speaker in General Education S, an innovative course designed […]

Letty Cottin Pogrebin class of 1959


WGS Board Member Letty Cottin Pogrebin answers the Brandeis Questionnaire in the Fall 2012 / Winter 2013 issue of Brandeis Magazine: When it was launched in 1971, Ms. magazine heralded a new world for women — and men. It catapulted below-the-radar topics like domestic violence, sexual harassment, the right to abortion and workplace discrimination into […]