Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

RUTH BADER GINSBURG
(1933-)

Gwenn Brown Nealis

A descendant of Central European and Russian Jewish immigrants, Joan Ruth or Ruth Joan Bader was born on March 15, 1933, in New York City. Her parents were Nathan Bader and Celia Amster Bader. Her older sister and only sibling, Marilyn, died of meningitis when Ruth was one year old.

Even as an adolescent Ruth Bader distinguished herself as a scholar. She graduated first in her class at P.S. 238 and there at age twelve or thirteen wrote an editorial, "Landmarks of Constitutional Freedom," for the student newspaper. She was also confirmed with honors at East Midwood Jewish Center and at James Madison High School in Brooklyn. During her childhood and adolescence, Ruth had been positively influenced by her mother, who encouraged her love of reading and language and who continually saved money for Ruth's college education. In 1950, on the day before Ruth's high school graduation, her mother died of cervical cancer. Ruth Bader won a scholarship to Cornell University and was able to give her mother's financial legacy to her father. In a 1993 interview Ginsburg stated, "My greatest inspiration was my own mother. She never had the opportunity to go to college, but she taught me to pursue learning. She gave me confidence in myself that is invaluable" ( Hunt 1993, 117).

At Cornell Bader earned a B.A. in government in 1954. She also met and married fellow Cornell student Martin D. Ginsburg Both Ginsburgs decided to pursue careers in law. Their law studies were interrupted when Martin was called away from enrollment at Harvard University Law School for military service. Subsequently, the couple moved to Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, where they lived for two years while Martin finished a tour of duty. During the time at Fort Sill, daughter Jane Ginsburg was born.

In 1956, following Martin Ginsburg's discharge, the family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Martin continued his degree work, and Ruth enrolled in the law program. She was one of nine women in a class of over 500

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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