Saturday, October 23, 2021
The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians will hold its annual business meeting, better known as the Little Berks, online this year. We welcome all members of the Berks to attend this virtual conference.
Theme: “Inclusive Institution Building & Legacy Making”
Over the past few years, various institutions that range from governmental to educational have emphasized the need for inclusivity on every level. Yet, the organizations remain the same, homogenous with regard to race, gender, and physical ability. As the nation’s premier women’s history organization, The Little Berks hopes to interrogate inclusivity and also offer up call-to-actions about how to best achieve inclusive excellence. We will have the following thought leaders and renowned academics serve on roundtables and panels to help us to chart an improved pathway towards “inclusive institution building and legacy making,” this year’s theme for the Little Berks.
- Vanessa Northington Gamble (GWU & practicing physician)
- Shennette Garrett-Scott (Texas A&M)
- Cynthia Greenlee (Journalist/UGA Editor, and Reproductive Justice Activist)
- Evelynn Hammonds (Harvard)
- Holly Hotchner (National Women’s History Museum)
- Imara Jones (Founder & CEO, TransLash)
- Elizabeth Ruzzo (Founder of Adyn, birth control company)
- Suzanne Welsh (Bennett College, HBCU)
2021 Little Berks Schedule
Conference Welcome: Deirdre Cooper Owens
Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott (Texas A&M), “Domesticating Racial Capitalism: Freedwomen and Industrial Sewing Schools, 1862-1872”
Abstract: “Domesticating Racial Capitalism” explores key questions about gender, race, institutions, and philanthro-capital in shaping Black women’s labor during and shortly after the Civil War. Northern freedmen’s aid societies, Union army officials, and the Freedmen’s Bureau created industrial sewing schools exclusively for African American women to teach basic literacy and sewing skills. More factory than classroom, freedwomen produced tons of clothes that were shipped and sold around the country. Led almost exclusively by white women, these schools sought to train, surveil, and control Black women: to mold them, in the estimation of white reformers, into both good workers and good women. The hierarchies of free-market relations – like those of the plantation household, prison, and factory – quickly adapted to the context of emancipation.
20-minute breakout sessions to introduce yourselves
Keynote Panel, “Leading Institutions that Center Inclusive Excellence,” featuring: Suzanne Walsh, President of Bennett College; Holly Hotchner, Director of the National Women’s History Museum, and Imara Jones, Founder and CEO of Translash, moderator Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens
Business Meeting & Conference Ends