Historians On Trial: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Description of the project and its significance

The Tamimnet Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives at New York University are requesting funding to develop a web-based digital history project that features digitized and encoded documents relating to the 1984 federal trial of The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sears, Roebuck & Co. The focal point of the project is the controversial role historians Rosalind Rosenberg and Alice Kessler-Harris played in the trial and will therefore be known as Historians on Trial. Their opposing interpretations of the historical record provoked a passionate debate within the historical community at the time, particularly in the fields of women’s and labor history.

The principle activities of the project will be to transcribe and encode in XML the contents of the following archival collections: the Rosalind Rosenberg Papers (1979-1987) and the Sandi E. Cooper Papers (1979-1986), both housed at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College, Harvard University, and the Research files of Jon Weiner relating to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sears, Roebuck and Company, housed at the Wagner Archives at NYU, as well as a number of newspaper and scholarly articles about the case. These collections include correspondence, articles, and court documents of the trial, and most notably, the transcripts of Rosenberg and Kessler-Harris’ defenses, which will be the centerpiece of the project.

The result will be an interactive website in which users can read about the background of the trial and the history of sexual discrimination in American employment, intelligently search and browse the documents, and add tags and comments to the documents. The site will benefit NYU and the humanities in general because it offers a dynamic method of textual searching that will inspire new scholarship on this historic event.

Project Director: Kate Dundon

Source of Materials:

This exhibit will investigate the conflicting testimonies of historians Alice Kessler-Harris and Rosalind Rosenberg in the case of The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sears, Roebuck and Co.

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