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About Radcliffe / Our Work

Women, Gender, and Society

Artwork design with yellow, red, blue and green components
In 1976, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), a leader in the computer industry, commissioned the pop artist Corita Kent to design panels to adorn the sides of its computers, cubicle walls, and office furniture. Kent created six serigraphs of colorful swaths, but DEC never produced the panels. In 2015, Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library was offered the chance to acquire an extremely rare set of the panels, one of which you see here. Kent, who earlier in life had been a college art teacher and a nun with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in California, is best known in the Boston area for another commercial commission, this one by Boston Gas in 1971: a 150-foot-high gas tank with rainbow-colored stripes, which she called Rainbow Swash. Photo by Kevin Grady

The Institute rests firmly on the foundation of its predecessor, Radcliffe College—a school created to ensure that the standard of education embodied in Harvard was accessible to women. Radcliffe’s unwavering commitment to women and the study of gender endures in the Institute’s programs and the world-class collections of its Schlesinger Library.

A dedication to women and gender has informed Radcliffe’s work since its inception. The Institute’s mission was set forth in the merger agreement that established the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study as a school within Harvard University, and read, in part, “In recognition of Radcliffe’s historic contributions to the education of women and to the study of issues related to women, the Radcliffe Institute will sustain a continuing commitment to the study of women, gender, and society.”

The Institute remains a vital center for the study of women and gender at Harvard. Explore several strands of our work below:

  1. Archival Resources
  2. Research Support
  3. Public Programming

Archival Resources

The vast holdings of Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America are accessible to all interested researchers. One of the special collections libraries within the Harvard Library—the oldest library system in the United States—the Schlesinger is considered the leading center for scholarship on the history of women in the United States, with collections that span civil rights and feminism, health and sexuality, work and family life, education and the professions, and culinary history and etiquette.

Among our digitized collections are the papers of the women’s rights activist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony (1820‒1906); the writer and influential public figure Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860–1935), who worked to combat women's inequality inside and outside the home; the suffragist, women’s rights activist, and author of the original Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Alice Paul 1885–1977); and Dorothy West (1907–1908), a writer and journalist associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

Other notable collections include:

The Schlesinger also holds organizational archives like Records of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective Records (Our Bodies, Ourselves).

Research Support

Harvard Radcliffe Institute invests in the work of leading scholars, public intellectuals, and artists focused on women, gender, and society through its Fellowship Program. Radcliffe also sponsors private multidisciplinary seminars led by Harvard- and Radcliffe-affiliated scholars to launch and advance important research agendas. Each seminar convenes 10–15 scholars and practitioners from around the world to pursue their work in a collaborative setting.

Awarded fellowships include:

  • Judith Coffin, University of Texas, Austin Reading Beauvoir: The Second Sex in the Postwar World
  • Corinne T. Field, University of Virginia Grand Old Women and Modern Girls: Generational and Racial Conflict in the US Women's Rights Movement, 1870–1920
  • Liette Gidlow, Wayne State University The 19th Amendment and the Politics of Race, 1920–1970
  • Hauwa Ibrahim, Aries Law Firm (Nigeria) Women, Justice, and Sharia Law
  • Linda K. Kerber, University of Iowa Through Women's Eyes: An Alternative American History
  • Ruth Milkman, City University of New York Gender and Labor in the Economic Crisis: Comparing the Great Depression and the Great Recession
  • Durba Mitra, Harvard University Sexuality and the New Science of Society
  • Jennifer C. Nash, Northwestern University Black Maternal Politics
  • Katharine Park, Harvard University Visible Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection
  • Sarah S. Richardson, Harvard University The Maternal Mystique: Situating the Science of Maternal Effects, 1900–Present
  • Robert O. Self, Brown University The Politics of Gender and Sexuality in America from Watts to Reagan
  • Manisha Sinha, University of Connecticut The Reconstruction of American Democracy, 1860–1920
  • Marjorie J. Spruill, University of South Carolina Women's Rights and Family Values: Gender and America's Right Turn
  • Christine Stansell, Princeton University A Political History of American Feminism, 1792–2002
  • Katherine Turk, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Claiming NOW: A History of the National Organization for Women

Select research seminars in include:

  • Gender, Socialism, and Postsocialism: Transatlantic Dialogues 
  • Sexual Trafficking and Exploitation of Adolescents in the United States: Conceptual Framework and Policy Strategies
  • Writing Lesbianism into History and Representation
  • Closing the Pain Divide 
  • Gender, Civil Society, and the State in Contemporary South Asia: Adolescent Education 
  • Women’s Participation in Violent Political Organizations 
  • New Frontiers in Women Writing from Saudi Arabia 
  • Gender, Precarious Work, and Labor Organizing 
  • States of Intimacy: Gender, Sexuality, and Governance in Modern US History
  • Indigenous Peoples, Gender Justice, and Legal Pluralism in the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala
  • Centuries of Struggle: Women, the Vote, and American Citizenship
  • Women and the History of International Thought
  • Women, Heart, and Brain Global Initiative Stakeholders Meeting
  • Two Socialist Feminisms in Conversation: Soviet Bloc Women’s Organizations and US Socialist Feminism
  • Listening to Survivors: Building Mental Health Services for Women Affected by Commercial Sexual Exploitation through Psychology and Survivor Professional Collaborations
  • The Wisdom in Teeth: Exploring the Use of Teeth as Fossil Records of Early Stress Exposure and Future Neuropsychiatric Risk
  • Out of Bounds: Bodies, Abortion, Babies, and Mass Graves

In addition, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute awards grants to undergraduate and graduate students at Harvard who are pursuing research, service, and creative projects in fields related to women and gender.

Public Programming

Harvard Radcliffe Institute reaches national and international audiences through its public programming. Radcliffe supports vital conversations—from small group gatherings to major public conferences—that create productive dialogue around difficult and complex issues, advancing discourse on topics related to women, gender, and society. This includes our flagship annual gender conference, along with many other public programs throughout the year.

Select programs include:


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