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Kelly, Joan (1928–1982) - European, Women’s History

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Joan Kelly Gadol was born on March 29, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York, to George V. and Ruth (Jacobsen) Kelly. She attended St. John’s University College and received a B.A. (summa cum laude) in 1953. She received an M.A. in 1954 from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in 1963. She was a lecturer for City College of the City University of New York from 1956 to 1963. She was assistant professor from 1963 to 1968 and associate professor from 1968 to 1972. During this time she published Leon Battista Alberti (1969). She was a professor of history from 1972 until her death. During that time she was also visiting assistant professor at Columbia University (1963–1964) and, with Gerda Lerner, founded and co-directed in 1972–1974 the first master of arts program in women’s history at Sarah Lawrence College; she was acting director of the women’s studies program at City University of New York (CUNY) in 1976–1977. Kelly was the chair of the American Historical Association’s Committee on Women Historians from 1975 to 1977. She was also co-chair of the New York City chapter of the Coordinating Committee for Women in the Historical Profession from 1973 to 1974. She won a Woodrow Wilson fellowship for 1953–1954, a Danforth fellowship for 1960–1961 and a junior fellowship from the National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities for 1967–1968.

By the 1970s Kelly had become well known for her publications on feminist history. Her article “Did Women Have a Renaissance?” in Becoming Visible: Women in European History , edited by Renate Bridenthal and Claudia Koonz, was considered ground-breaking in the area of historical scholarship. With Amy Swerdlow, Renate Bridenthal, and Phyllis Vine she co-authored Household and Kin in 1980. Women, History, and Theory , a collection of essays, was published posthumously by the University of Chicago. Joan Kelly died of cancer in 1982.

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