Take a look back at some of the amazing women scholars who have made their mark on John Jay

Women's History Month: A Look Back Through John Jay Herstory



Looking Back at John Jay's Herstory


Since its inception, John Jay College has played host to outstanding women scholars. These researchers and professors have made contributions to every discipline, and in every decade. Below, we've highlighted notable scholarship from each decade, focusing in particular on women exploring women's issues, often blazing new trails and leading the way to future breakthroughs. Read on for a look at "herstory" in scholarship at John Jay!



Founding of John Jay: 1965

Our original faculty tended toward police and criminal justice practitioners; although less often found in those roles at the time, women still played a strong role in setting a course for the college. Some of the original female faculty members, pictured here at right, included (L to R) Bernice Kamsler, Lorraine Colville, Flora Rheta Schreiber, Marcia Yarmus, and Carmella Barbuto Griffin.

From Educating for Justice (Gerald Markowitz)




Self-described "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" Audre Lorde was a professor in John Jay's English department from 1970 - 1981. In 1971, she published The Black Unicorn, a book of poetry that reclaimed her identity as a black woman, including themes of African female deities, fertility and warrior strength. In her long career, Lorde explored feminism, motherhood, race and more through her work. She went on to become the New York State Poet Laureate, and John Jay continues to give the Audre Lorde Award for Social Justice annually.




In 1982 Barbara Price and Natalie Sokoloff produced the important work The Criminal Justice System and Women, editing a set of articles that showed how women affect and are affected by crime and the criminal justice system. Examining in turn female offenders, victims of crime, and criminal justice practitioners, Price and Sokoloff set criminal justice in the context of larger society, seeking to consider ways that women perpetuate and help to change the system.




Throughout much of the '90s, Deborah Baskin's work focused on female offenders. In 1992, Baskin wrote "Sex, race, age and violent offending," a look at gender differences in violent offending. She also wrote a number of articles parsing the factors that contribute to female offenders' initiation into violent crime and how they leave the life. In 1997, she wrote Casualties of Community Disorder: Women's Careers in Violent Crime, which departed from gender-based generalizations about crime and looked instead at the overall and individualized pictures of 170 women who committed violent street crimes in New York City. Baskin has produced a coherent body of work over the years; as recently as 2010, she published an article that brings together her themes of gender, psychopathology and crime entitled "The Intersectionality of Sex, Race and Psychopathology in Predicting Violent Crimes."




Lisa Farrington's 2003 piece in the Woman's Art Journal - "Reinventing Herself: The Black Female Nude" - explores the history of the black female nude and accompanying sexual and cultural stereotypes engendered by nude portrayals of black women, as well as attempts by African-American female artists to contend with and deconstruct those biases in their work. The black nude is bound up in the history of the American slave trade and Western norms of beauty, and has shaped the way black women are perceived and treated in the United States. Artists like Faith Ringgold and Rene Stout seek to empower black women with their own efforts to reclaim the nude.




Jill Norgren, Professor Emerita of Government, Law and Women's Studies, taught at John Jay for almost 30 years. Author of numerous books and articles focusing on cultural pluralism and the law, her most recent was Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America's First Women Lawyers (2013). She also helped found the website www.herhatwasinthering.org, which provides short content about women who ran for office in the U.S. before the Nineteenth Amendment made it possible for them to vote. These stories of amazing women may inspire today's women to be politically active in an important midterm election year!



These featured scholars are just a small sample of the exemplary scholarship and leadership of women over John Jay's history! To find out more about the role women played in establishing John Jay, you can read Educating for Justice: A Brief History of John Jay College by Gerald Markowitz, copies of which are available in Lloyd Sealy Library. You can also go to the library to find out more about the women featured here, and their incredible contemporaries! And catch up with us at @JohnJayResearch on Twitter to follow our coverage all month of more women scholars doing impactful work today.