Ruth Feldstein received her Ph.D. in History from Brown University in 1996. Her research, writing and teaching reflect her interest in gender and race and in media and politics as intersecting categories that shape each other. Her first book, Motherhood in Black and White: Race and Sex in American Liberalism, 1930-1965 (Cornell, 2000), is an intellectual and cultural history of liberalism from the New Deal to the Great Society. By tracing a developing consensus about black women as bad “matriarchs” and white women
as bad “moms” in a range of sources-- films, popular news media, intellectual discourse, civil rights activism, and welfare legislation--this book argued that conservative gender ideologies were central to the process through which race became prominent in American liberalism.
She is currently completing a manuscript about black women entertainers (Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Abbey Lincoln and Cicely Tyson) and their significance to the civil rights movement and to the development of second-wave feminism
Professor Feldstein has received support for her research from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute; the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University; the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University; and the American Association for University Women, among others. An article about Nina Simone that appeared in the Journal of American History, was awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize, Best Article on Black Women’s History. Her most recent book is How it Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement.