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Oral History Interview with Ellen W. Gerber, February 18 and March 24, 1992. Interview C-0092. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Ellen Gerber grew up in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1930s and 1940s in what she describes as a "typical middle-class Jewish American" family. Gerber explains that she was influenced by liberal politics and the expectation that she would have a career despite her gender. In the 1960s, Gerber received a doctorate in physical education and spent a number of years teaching in northern colleges and writing books about the history of physical education and women in sports. In 1972, following the passage of Title IX, she toured college campuses to speak about implementing this measure for women's athletics. In so doing, she became increasingly convinced that legal change offered the most viable route for achieving gender equality, and in 1974 she enrolled in the School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gerber describes what it was like to be an "older" woman in law school during the mid-1970s and talks about her goals to help women with her law degree. Following her graduation, Gerber was hired by Legal Aid, where she worked for fifteen years before retiring. She describes how her own role evolved in Legal Aid after she became the managing attorney in 1980, and she discusses the impact of federal budgeting on legal service for the poor in North Carolina under the administrations of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush. In addition, Gerber speaks at length about women's issues, ranging from her own motivations for advocating for women's equality and her participation in such organizations as the North Carolina Association for Women Attorneys.
    Excerpts
  • Title IX and deciding to attend law school
  • Pushing for a clinical program at UNC School of Law in the mid-1970s
  • Rising to a management position at Legal Aid
  • Impact of federal budgeting on legal services for the poor
  • Advocating for women's issues in law
  • Factors in becoming an advocate for women's equality
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Women's rights--North Carolina
  • Jewish women--North Carolina
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law Clinic Program
  • Women athletes--North Carolina
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.