1997 Notable Authors

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Gerda Lerner
Frederic G. Cassidy
Lorna Balian

Gerda Lerner, 1920-

A founder in the field of women's history, Gerda Lerner has written extensively about the role of women in history and how traditional histories have failed to address specifically female issues. In addition to her books, Lerner has been a contributor of short stories to various literary magazines, and of articles and reviews to professional journals. Using a variety of sources, Lerner frequently compares issues of race, class, and gender in her studies of women.

An Austrian Jew, Lerner escaped from the Nazis and emigrated to American at age 18. In a 1981 interview with Catharine R. Stimpson, Lerner stated that "for the next twenty years, I was an unskilled, and later, a skilled worker; a housewife; and an organizer. I always was a writer as well." She continued her education at the New School for Social Research, BA (1963) and Columbia University, MA (1965) and PhD (1966). Her career spans from the New School for Social Research (1963-1965) to Long Island University (1965-1968) to Sarah Lawrence College (1968-1980) to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1980- ). Lerner helped establish several graduate programs in the field of women's history, including the program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Robinson-Edwards Professor of History, Emerita.

As Elizabeth Fox-Genovese describes her in the New Republic, Lerner is "a historian to be sure, the most active and politically astute of the opening phase of the new women's history, but also a specially talented writer, an inspiring and demanding teacher, a model as well as a companion to younger female scholars, a forceful presence in her chosen profession.

Selected Writings:

No Farewell (novel), 1955
The Grinke Sisters from South Carolina: Rebels against Slavery, 
The Woman in American History (textbook),
Black Women in White America: A Documentary History, 
Women Are History: A Bibliography in the History of American Women (revised edition with Marie Laberge), 
A Death of One's Own, 
The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History, 
Teaching Women's History, 
Women and History, Volume 1: The Creation of Patriarchy, 
Women and History, Volume 2: The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, From the Middle Ages to 1870,
Why History Matters: Life and Thought, 

Edited Work
The Female Experience: An American Documentary
, 1976

Black Like Me (with Carl Lerner), 1964

Frederic G. Cassidy, 1907-2000

Long before he embarked on what William Safire has called "the most exciting linguistic project going on in the United States," The Dictionary of American Regional English, Prof. Cassidy had earned his place in the pantheon of chroniclers of the language.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1907, he earned his BA and MA degrees at Oberlin College in Ohio and his PhD at the University of Michigan. He was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Jamaica and the first honorary fellow of the University College of the West Indies. He has taught at Oberlin, the University of Strasbourg, and, from 1939-1979, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his courses included Beowulf, Old English, Old English poetry, Middle English and the history of the English language. He has edited or otherwise contributed to a variety of linguistic works, including the Early Modern English Dictionary, Middle English Dictionary, and The Linguistic Atlas of the U.S. and Canada, In 1961, he won the Musgrave Silver Medal from the Institute of Jamaica for Jamaica Talk, a seminal work on the English language on that island. He has contributed significantly to our understanding of regionalisms in Wisconsin with his work on place names and characteristic speech in the state. He is a member of the American Dialect Society (president 1957-1959), the Linguistic Society of America, and the Modern Language Association.

But it will be The Dictionary of American Regional English, a massive compendium of slang, regionalisms, and folk language, for which he will be best remembered. Three volumes, covering A-P and comprising 3005 pages so far, are now published and completion is expected in the year 2000 (when Prof. Cassidy will be 92). To say Prof. Cassidy is the editor does not do justice to his role in this project. He is its heart and soul. He first became interested in publishing such a dictionary in the 1940s. With funding from the University of Wisconsin and the US Department of Education, he sent 80 field workers with a standard set of questions about phrases and words used for everyday items and events to 1002 communities throughout the country in the 1960s. They amassed 2.5 million responses, the raw material from which Cassidy and his staff are now creating the dictionary. He personally vouches for each entry.

Prof. Cassidy is married to Helene Monod and has four children.

Selected Writings:

Brown County, Wisconsin, Place Names, 1938
The Place Names of Dane County, Wisconsin, 1947
The Scribner Handbook of English (with A.R. Marckwardt), 1948
A Method for Collecting Dialect (with A.R. Duckert), 1953
The Development of Modern English (with S. Robertson), 1954
Dictionary of American Regional English, 1965-

Lorna Balian, 1929-

Writer and illustrator, freelance artist, editor, teacher -- wife, mother of six children -- that's no Humbug! That's Lorna Balian, who lives in Watertown and works from an old country schoolhouse that she and her husband John (an industrial designer and artist) restored.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, December 19, 1929, Lorna Balian grew up mostly in the city, but spent her summers in the town of Readfield, a rural Wisconsin area. Her inspiration from both city and country enlivens her books. Strongly influenced by her grandmother, Balian pursued her love of art, often using her grandmother as a model for elderly characters in her stories.

In October 1981, a resolution at the WLA-YSS conference thanked her for illustrating the 1981 "Merlin's Midsummer Magic" Summer Library Program materials, a gift to the children of Wisconsin. As a library colleague aptly puts it, "this woman has always been an outstanding friend to the children in this state AND to the Cooperative Children's Book Center."

Balian has been writing children's books since her first delightful creation, Humbug Witch, was published in 1965. This story, a favorite of children of all ages, features a little witch who can't quite spark the magic to power her broom or make her cauldron "boil and bubble." Balian's trademark "surprise" in this story, as in all the stories she has written, captures the children's interest and keeps them coming back for more.

Awards & Honors:

UW Little Archer Award; Colorado Children's Book Award; Georgia Children's Picture Book Award; Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award; PIA Graphics Award; First-place award, Nashville Art Director's Club. The Lorna Balian Prize, an award offered by Abingdon to unpublished author-illustrator teams or individual creators of children's books, was named in her honor.

Writings for Children, Self-Illustrated:

Humbug Witch, Abingdon, 
I Love You, Mary Jane, Abingdon,
The Animal, Abingdon,
Sometimes It's Turkey -- Sometimes It's Feathers, Abingdon, 
Where in the World is Henry?, Bradbury, 
Humbug Rabbit, Abingdon, 
The Sweet Touch, Abingdon, 
Bah! Humbug?, Abingdon, 
A Sweetheart for Valentine, Abingdon, 
Leprechauns Never Lie, Abingdon, 
Mother's Mother's Day, Abingdon, 
Humbug Potion: An A-B-Cipher, Abingdon, 
A Garden for a Groundhog, Abingdon, 
Amelia's Nine Lives, Abingdon, 
The Socksnatchers, Abingdon, 
Wilbur's Space Machine, Holiday House,

Humbug Handbook: The Lorna Balian Educational Activity Book, Humbug Books (Watertow
n, WI), 1994, from the author's works by Poppy Balian, her daughter, with illustrations by Poppy and Lecia Balian.