This amazing person was the first woman to teach women’s history at Harvard and began the Schlesinger Archive at Radcliffe. I was fortunate to live with and work for her right after I graduated in 1990.I did research for her and drove her to chemotherapy. She inspired me greatly and helped me lose my fear of aging. She mentored an entire generation of women historians and they were very much in her life. Her joyous life of the mind kept her life rich even while her body was giving her trouble. In those days, I’d only just stopped being a varsity hockey player and couldn’t imagine life without the focus on athletics and the body. After my recent injury, I’m having a new experience.
I remember helping Barbara clean out an office and found some old business cards her husband Peter had had printed up which read “House Husband.” He’d been the CEO of Stride Rite, but was so proud to be Barbara’s husband in an era in which women were not expected to have professional careers.
I lived with Barbara in Cambridge MA, when another feminist inspiration, Prof. Mary Jo Frug, was stabbed to death across the street. Barbara passed more peacefully a few years later. I miss them both.