"In the absolute sense, there is no women's history," said Gerda Lerner, history professor, author and co-director of a women's studies program at Sarah Lawrence College. History as recorded, she said, "has been the history of men, ordered in values by men."
Lerner was reiterating what the 4k women, gathered yesterday for breakfast given by the Smithsonian at the Museum of History and Technology, had considered in the past 16 days at a special Institute on Owmen in History, held at Sarah Lawrence College.
At the institute, directed by Lerner, the group studied, read and discussed history with specific emphasis on women. The Smithsonian provided staff and curators to help set up the program and published a bibliography of women's history.
"Women have never been axuliary," said Lerner, who received a standing ovation when introduced by Wilton S. Dillon, director of the Office of Symposia and Seminars for the Smithsonian.
"Women have transmitted cultural history. Women have provided continuity in the building of values. Women have worked in lower-paying jobs. Women have worked without pay for love, in homes. Women have struggled for their emancipation. All of this is the lost heritage of every woman, and it must also be the history of every man."
The institute was financied with $55,000 from the Lilly Endowment and sponsored by the Women's Action Alliance, a national organization that deals with womenhs issues.
A variety of women's organizations were represented at the institute.
"We've got a range from Church Women United to the National Gay Task Force here," said Betsey Brinson of the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project. "You name it, they're here."
At the breakfast, the women signed a resolution urging that the week containing March 8 which some groups observe as International Women's Day, be declared Womenhs History Week.
Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) addressed the group, commending their efforts to study women's history and make people aware of it. She also talked about reaction to the new Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, which honors the famous suffragette.
"People from the press call and ask 'what does he failure of the Susan B. Anthony coin mean for the women's movement?'" said Schroeder. "I tell them it means about the same that the failure of the Eisenhower dollar meant for generals." CAPTION: Picture, Molly Macgregor, left, of the Committee on the Status of Women, with Amy Swerdlow of Institute for Women's History in Secondary Schools ; by James M. Thresher - The Washington Post