Women’s activism in New Orleans: Staking claims and crossing boundaries with Dr. Anne Gessler

by | Mar 30, 2023 | What’s Happening

Thursday, April 20, 7:30 pm, Zoom

Old Dominion University’s Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, and ODU’s Women’s Studies present a talk by Anne Gessler, PhD.

Gessler’s talk explores the period between 1900 and 1945 when women’s interracial, cross-class, and multi-generational political coalitions pressured New Orleans to respond to its most vulnerable residents. A wealth of women’s organizations’ yearbooks, correspondence, meeting minutes, memorabilia, photographs, and other artifacts reveal the extent to which Orthodox and Reform Jewish and Christian rank-and-file women regularly joined and supported each other’s secular and religious organizations.

Gessler’s research follows German Reform community activist Ida Weis Friend, Russian Orthodox social worker Rose Brener, defender of Yiddish culture Mollie Gansar, and Polish socialist Eva Weinstein’s post-19th Amendment commitment to expanding city social welfare networks, advancing national democratic economic reforms, and pressing for global democracy, and peace. Not only does their activism unsettle the conventional portrait of Jewish Southerners who avoided radical political activity as a means of protecting their embattled class status, but it also bridges the gap in southern women’s social movement organizing between attaining suffrage and organizing for civil rights and women’s rights 30 years later.

Director of the First-Year Seminar Program and clinical associate professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies and Humanities Programs at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Gessler received her doctorate in American Studies and a portfolio in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015.

Gessler teaches critical thinking, modern U.S. history, women’s and gender studies, humanities, and utopian history. Engaging with women’s and gender studies, social movement history, and consumer activism, her book, Cooperatives in New Orleans: Collective Action and Urban Development, traces the impact of New Orleans neighborhood cooperatives on the city’s urban development.

To access the talk, go to HTTPS://TINYURL.COM/4AC83T4P.