Help me help my mother do her history homework
April 9, 2021 9:34 AM   Subscribe

My mother is a woman in her 70s who's a member of Hadassah (an organization of American Jewish women), has been asked to do a presentation for their next big regional (online) meeting. She's been asked to present specifically about accomplishments of American Jewish women in the 20th Century, but her ability to do research is limited.

Basically, she will be reading from her prepared notes, maybe with some slides, while on a Zoom meeting with regional and chapter department heads. Our local libraries are closed, and she has no experience with web searches. I tried a little poking around a few sources myself, but unfortunately Wikipedia seems to lack a category for American Jewish women, which would have been my ideal starting place. Can MeFites please help point me at a few names? I'll lay some options out for her, and then she can pick the one I'll (help her) do a deeper dive on.

The criteria are:

-American Jewish women
-From 20th or 21st Century (within the timeline of Hadassah's existence, basically)
-Who performed some kind of excellent service for the world in line with the organization's mission: i.e. medicine, education, science, sociology, politics, humanitarian works, law, government, etc. Individual achievements in sports are probably OK, but entertainers probably aren't unless there's a pro-social angle to them.
-Ruth Bader Ginsburg is already taken, unfortunately.

Any help is appreciated. I don't know when the due date for all this is but it's probably no later than Memorial Day. Thank you!
posted by The Pluto Gangsta to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
Hedy Lamarr: she was a golden era film actress who was also a scientific genius and invented the technology that led to wifi, GPS, and bluetooth.

She was born in Vienna but immigrated to the US.
posted by nowadays at 9:42 AM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Women of Valor: Bella Abzug, Justine Polier and Barabara Meyerhoff in particular.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:50 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: This list of contemporary and historical Jewish women on the CSJO website should be a great place for her to start, as it divides them into categories by profession.

You could also buy and send her this book, AMERICA’S JEWISH WOMEN: A History From Colonial Times to Today By Pamela S. Nadell, reviewed by the NYT, here.

And this page from the Jewish Women's Archive should give her plenty of ideas.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:51 AM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh, Pamela Nadell, the author of the book I listed above, has an hour-long video on YouTube about the book. I bet this will give your mom some inspiration for how she wants to set up her talk.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:53 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here’s a great list — it’s broader than you want (goes to the 19th century) but she could pick someone off this list.

Some non-entertainer additions: additions to that list: Lani Gunier and Rebecca Walker.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:55 AM on April 9, 2021

Seconding Hedy Lamarr because she is seriously underrated, and you also get some of the most amazing clips to play that will appeal to people (these can be downloaded by someone to play on her powerpoint if she can't manage and doesn't want to risk launching youtube and going back to her slides) and fill in space if she is nervious.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:44 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Aly Raisman, US olympic gymnast who has done amazing work in the past few years educating about mental health and sexual abuse issues. Here's a quick article about her.
posted by mcduff at 10:54 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Jewish women Nobel Prize winners, including some American women.

Jewish women in the women's liberation movement.

And a bunch of artists.

And another list.

Don't forget about Barbra Streisand, your mother is of the generation that most listened to her.
posted by mareli at 11:36 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Gerty Cori: Nobel Prize for Med 1947 but also the 'mother' of 6 other Nobellists. Wot a woman!
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:19 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg too obvious?
posted by inexorably_forward at 12:31 PM on April 9, 2021

susan sontag
posted by brujita at 1:52 PM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Ruth Gruber

I highly recommend her autobiography Witness : one of the great foreign correspondents of the twentieth century tells her story
posted by paradeofblimps at 7:39 PM on April 10, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone for the help! There were a lot of good ideas to choose from here.

Turns out she's going to be doing presentations on two of the women coming from that CSJO list that several people posted -- Jennie Grossinger and Gertrude Elion.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:31 AM on April 15, 2021

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