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Jane Sherron De Hart  

Political Historian & Author of "Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life"

Jane Sherron De Hart began her professional career as a historian of U.S. politics, publishing her first book The Federal Theater: Plays, Relief, and Politics with Princeton University Press in l968. After serving as Projector Director for the Rockefellow Foundation-funded study of Government Support of the Arts and Public Accountability in l968-69 she published articles on arts policy in the Journal of American History and the American Historical Review.

Moving into women’s history in the 1970s, she created, with Linda Kerber, a major anthology in the field, Women’s America: Refocusing the Past forthcoming from Oxford University Press in its ninth edition under the editorship of Cornelia Dayton and Karissa Haugeberg. In l982 De Hart won American Political Science Association’s Victoria Shuck Award for the best book published that year on women and politics for her co-authored book, Sex, Gender, and the Politics of ERA (the proposed Equal Rights Amendment), while Professor of History and Director of Women Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For her work on gender issues, she was awarded the North Carolina Distinguish Service Award in l986.

At the University of California at Santa Barbara, she began exploring the other half of a two-pronged the feminist legal strategy for achieving gender equality in the law: persuading the Supreme Court for the first time in its history to recognize that that laws and regulations based on gender stereotypes invidiously discriminated against individual women – and sometimes men – violating their constitutional right to equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the l4th Amendment. Ruth Bader Ginsburg pioneering litigation undertaken under the auspices of the ACLU provided the basis for a superb study of this litigation effort. Ultimately however, those chapters become incorporated into the first full length legal biography of Justice Ginsburg. Published in October, 2018 by Alfred A. Knopf, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, A Life, is now in its 7th printing. Hailed as “monumental” in Kirkus’s starred review, Jeffrey Rosen in The Washington Post call is “an excellent biography … in its comprehensiveness, range, and attention to detail… a vivid account of a remarkable life.”

The recipient of two research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1975-76) and (1998-99), De Hart also received an earlier Grant in Aid from the American Council of Learned Societies (1976). Under the auspices of the Fulbright Foundation, she also jointly held the Bicentennial Chair in American Studies at the University of Helsinki in l981-82.

De Hart, who earned Ph.D. from Duke University, has been awarded the Graduate School’s 2019 Distinguished Alumna Award.

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