Abelson, Elaine S.

Elaine Abelson Pic

Elaine Abelson
Ph.D. in American History, New York University, B.A. in Government, Cornell University
Associate Professor, History and Urban Studies / Senior Lecturer Graduate Faculty

My intellectual interests cross a number of disciplines. I teach, write, and am active professionally in women’s history, urban history, and American cultural and social history.
Courses Taught:
  • Political and Social Change: the 1960s
  • Women in America
  • Gender, Politics and History (grad)
  • Shaping of the Modern City
  • New York City History
  • The American City WWII ‑ 9/11
  • The American City in the 20th Century
  • The Family in Comparative Perspective
Recent Publications:
  •  "The Times that Tried Only Men’s Souls: Homeless Women and Public Policy in the Great Depression" Women on their Own: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Rutgers University Press, forthcoming, 2007)
  • "Homelessness," featured essay. Encyclopedia of American Urban History (Winter 2006)
  • "Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America," review of Tod Depastino. Harvard Business History Review 78 (Summer 2004)
  •  "Women Who Have No Men to Work for Them: Gender and Homelessness in the Great Depression" Feminist Studies 29 (Spring 2003)
  • "Shoplifting Ladies," in Jennifer Scanlon (ed.), The Gender and Consumer Culture Reader (2000.)
  • "The Invention of Kleptomania" In Judith Walzer Leavitt (ed.), Women and Health in America: Historical Readings (1999)
  • When Ladies Go A-Theiving: Middle Class Shoplifters in the Victorian Department Store (1990)
Office Location:
The New School
Committee on Historical Studies
80 Fifth Ave, Room 513
New York, NY  10011
Office Hours:
Tues 2-3:30, Thurs 12-1 and by Appointment
Phone Number/Extension:
212-229-5376 x2216


Research Interests:
I am working on a book project which focuses on urban women and homelessness during the Great Depression, 1929‑1934.  Entitled The Dimensions of Inequality, the book deals with representations of women, government policy and gender considerations, and the experience of the "new poor" in the early years of the Great Depression.
Professional Affiliations:
  • American Historical Association
  • Organization of American Historians
  • American Studies Association
  • Berkshire Conference of Women in History (former program chair; currently a trustee)
Awards and Honors:
  • NEH Fellowship for University Professors (2001‑2002)
  • NEH Summer Stipend (1997)
  • New School for Social Research, Faculty Development Grant (1995)
  • Ford Foundation Curriculum Development Grant (1992‑1993)
  • Alan Nevins Dissertation Prize (1986)

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