Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, who graduated from Wellesley in 1963 with a B.A. in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, spent much of her time on campus in the Clapp Library. “There,” she said, “I would wallow in the world of ideas.” After discovering her love for the study of history at Wellesley, Dr. Horowitz continued her education at Harvard University, receiving both her M.A. and Ph.D. in American civilization in 1965 and 1969, respectively. During her freshman year at Wellesley she met Yale senior Daniel Horowitz. They married the summer following her Wellesley graduation (1963).
After a year working as an assistant archivist at what is currently the Schlesinger Library, she entered graduate school at Harvard in American Civilization. She received her Ph.D. in 1969. After one year teaching at M.I.T. and two years at Union College, she and her husband joined the faculty of Scripps College in Claremont, California, where she moved through the ranks to a tenured position as professor of history. She went to the University of Southern California in 1986 to head the Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society and serve as professor of history. In 1988 she and her husband joined the faculty of Smith College as professors. Between 2000 and her retirement in 2010 she held successively the Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Chair of American Studies and the Sydenham Clark Parsons Chair in History. Since retirement, she has continued active work in the historical profession and the research and writing of books in history and American studies.
Dr. Horowitz’s area of specialty is American cultural history, including the architectural and social history of women’s colleges. In 1984, she published Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women’s Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. In that work, she explores the ways in which the architecture of the Seven Sisters colleges reflects the goals of their founders and influences the philosophy of these single-sex institutions. Of Wellesley, she says that after the 1914 fire, members of the faculty wanted “its academic buildings to be ‘heroic,’ to make strong statements about the noble and serious purpose they serve.” Some of her other publications include Culture and the City: Cultural Philanthropy in Chicago from the 1880s to 1919 (1976), Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present (1987), and Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America (2002), which was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in history, and was the winner of the Merle Curti Prize for the best book that year in U.S. social and cultural history. Along with a number of edited works, she has also published the Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas (1994), Landscape in Sight: J.B. Jackson's America (1997), The Flash Press (co-authored with Patricia Cline Cohen and Timothy Gilfoyle (2008) and Wild Unrest: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Making of "The Yellow Wall-Paper" (2010). A Taste for Provence is coming out In Spring 2016.
Dr. Horowitz is a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American History, and was a council member of the American Studies Association. She has held fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the NEH, the American Antiquarian Society, the Radcliffe Institute, and the Huntington Library.
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