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The Ebell Institute for the Study of Women’s History (TEI) Spotlights Untold Stories of Remarkable Los Angeles Female Heroes at Inaugural Symposium Wednesday

The Inaugural symposium of The Ebell Institute on Wednesday, March 27 will feature an intellectual gathering of local scholars, artists, and culture bearers for public conversations, expert-led panels, and exhibits revealing the hidden history of LA women.


The Ebell of Los Angeles, our local nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring women and building community through arts, culture, and education is thrilled to announce the establishment of The Ebell Institute for the Study of Women’s History (TEI) and it’s inaugural symposium on Wednesday, March 27.

The Ebell Institute is dedicated to preserving and promoting the often-overlooked legacy of women in Los Angeles by spotlighting the untold stories of the women whose courageous achievements have had a major influence on the cultural landscape of one of the largest cities in the United States.

Founded on the idea that “one cannot be what one cannot see,” TEI seeks to develop public knowledge of both historical Los Angeles women who built the city as we know it today, as well as modern scholars and artists who are trailblazing in their respective fields.

TEI will focus on six major initiatives:

  • An annual, free public symposium dedicated to the study of women’s history in Los Angeles; the inaugural symposium will take place on Wednesday, March 27.
  • The employment of an artist and a scholar in residence
  • Open access to The Ebell’s historic collections
  • The “Living Herstory” project offering free, historical matinees to local elementary schools
  • Free public docent-led tours of The Ebell’s historic campus and gardens
  • An oral history project dedicated to chronicling and protecting the lesser-known stories of women in Los Angeles

“Despite changing attitudes about women’s roles in civic, scholarly, and artistic spheres, women’s contributions have been overlooked, discouraged, and buried for centuries,” said Stacy Brightman, executive director of The Ebell of Los Angeles. “We are going to change that by valuing and presenting the work of modern female scholars, while also uncovering the buried narratives of the historic women who helped build Los Angeles over the course of centuries. This important work is all-hands-on-deck. The Ebell is collaborating with its network of mission-aligned partners, forward-thinking members, and its larger community of students, artists, and culture bearers to bring to life The Ebell Institute and lasting change.”

The Ebell Institute for the Study of Women’s History in L.A. 2024 Symposium will take place on Wednesday, March 27 from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm in the Art Salon at The Ebell of Los Angeles. The gathering of local scholars, artists and history-makers will kick off with a key-note conversation between New York Times bestselling writer and novelist Lisa See and The Ebell’s first scholar in residence and associate dean in the Graduate School at the University of Southern California and adjunct associate professor in USC’s Price School of Public Policy and the School of Architecture, Dr. Meredith Drake Reitan. The conversation will focus on women’s experience and history expressed through artifacts.

Two academic panels will follow featuring unique presenters who’s academic work was submitted through an open call for papers earlier this year. The third and final panel will focus on women in silent cinema. Lunch will be provided for free to all attendees who have pre-registered and for the event.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at 10:00 am – 4:15 pm
Art Salon/Lounge at The Ebell of LA
Tickets: FREE; Free boxed lunch for all pre-registered attendees
Click here for more information.

Keynote: Lisa See and Dr. Meredith Drake Reitan
The 2024 TEI Symposium kicks off with a conversation between New York Times bestselling writer and novelist Lisa See and The Ebell’s first scholar in residence and associate dean in the Graduate School at the University of Southern California and adjunct associate professor in USC’s Price School of Public Policy and the School of Architecture, Dr. Meredith Drake Reitan, surrounding women as the keepers of family history, and the intimate, personal, and unique narratives preserved through artifacts overlooked in the “official” historical record.

Panel #1: Businesswomen and Builders
Agnes Richards and the Advancement of Women’s Mental Health Care in the Early 20th Century, presented by Joanna Linkchorst
A Week in the Life of Florence Schmidt or Every Shero Needs A Sidekick, presented by Jenna Snow
Remembering Simona Martinez Bradbury, presented by Victoria Bernal
Bridget “Biddy” Mason: Early Civil Rights Activist, presented by Maiya Williams Verrone

Panel #2: Creating the Culture of Los Angeles
Sheroes and Anti-Sheroes: Dorothy Chandler, Grace Simons and the Remaking of Postwar Los Angeles, presented by Andrea Thabet, Ph.D.
Madame Wong and the Height of LA Punk Rock, presented by Lindsay Stidham
Valeska Gert, presented by Jacqueline (Jackie) Davis, Ph.D. candidate
Out of Oblivion: The Women of Early 20th Century Los Angeles Dance, presented by Alison D’Amato, Ph.D.

Panel #3: Women in Silent Cinema: Pioneers in LA History and Beyond
The culminating event of the Ebell Women’s Symposium will take participants back in time over 100 years, when women were working prolifically behind the camera in the burgeoning film industry and helping to establish Hollywood as we know it today. The names and work of these artistic and technological innovators, however, have been largely omitted from history books until fairly recently, with a resurgence of feminist perspectives exploring the true legacy of America’s diverse cultural heritage. Sarah Blankfort Clothier from the American Film Institute will moderate a panel of three Los Angeles-based film historians – Emily Carman, Sloan De Forest and Maya Montañez Smukler – who will discuss the role of women in the early Hollywood, the evolution of female filmmakers in the Golden Age of American cinema, and the continuing contributions of women throughout the 1970s until today. Included in the talk will be clips of short films directed by women at the dawn of cinema, some which were shot in Los Angeles, with locations that evoke the experience of time travel. The panel will both educate and entertain Symposium participants about the silent, but no longer silenced, women storytellers and those who have followed in their hard-worn paths.

Following Lunch, there will be a special performance of selections from “The Everywhere of Her,” an imaginative and musical celebration commissioned by The Ebell featuring the stories of three remarkable women who each shaped Los Angeles. At an event celebrating Amelia Earhart as the first female to complete a trans-Atlantic flight, Charlotta Bass, owner and publisher of the California Eagle, Katherine Sui Fun Cheung, first Chinese licensed female pilot, and Dolores del Rio, Mexican star of American/Mexican cinema, meet for the first time. They discover that they have far more in common than they would have thought; though history books may try to erase their astonishing accomplishments, individually and together they will change the world.

Additional Ebell Institute Initiatives

Artist & Scholar in Residence
The Ebell will hire an artist scholar and graduate scholar in residence, investing in women’s academia and research with particular emphasis on underrepresented communities. Throughout the one year residencies, each resident will gain a platform and funding for their work, as well as help curate the symposium and four to six public scholarship events. The inaugural 2024 residents, Lynell George and Dr. Meredith Drake Reitan, were nominated and selected by an advisory committee of distinguished scholars and community leaders.

Artist-in-Residence: Lynell George
Lynell George is a Los Angeles-based journalist, essayist, and author. She has had a long career in L.A. journalism as staff writer for both the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly — focusing on social issues, human behavior, visual arts, music and literature. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, Alta: Journal of California, Sierra, The New York Times, Smithsonian, among other publications. She is the author of No Crystal Stair: African Americans in the City of Angels (Verso/Doubleday), a collection of features and essays drawn from her reporting; After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame. She won a 2017 GRAMMY for her liner notes Otis Redding Live at the Whisky A Go Go and is a 2020 recipient of a Distinguished Journalist award from the Society of Professional Journalists/Los Angeles. Her latest book, A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler is a finalist for a Hugo Award. It was published in 2020 by Angel City Press.

Scholar-in-Residence: Dr. Meredith Drake Reitan
Dr. Meredith Drake Reitan is a writer and educator whose work has been published in a variety of academic and popular arenas, including the Journal of the American Planning Association, the Journal of Urban Design, and the Journal of Planning History, among others. She currently serves as the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs at the University of Southern California and as an adjunct associate professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy and School of Architecture where she teaches classes on planning, urban design and heritage conservation.

Open Access to Collections
In coordination with The Ebell’s Historic Collections Committee and subcommittees, staff, and archivist, TEI will spearhead efforts to catalog The Ebell’s vast historic collections and make materials and artifacts regularly accessible on-site to scholars and the county’s 63 colleges.

Living Herstory
The Living Herstory project offers free, historical matinees to local elementary schools, spotlighting the often-overlooked histories and achievements of women in Los Angeles, with a plan to unfold 10 decade-specific plays in the series. The first play in the series, The Everywhere of Her, premiered in March 2023 and was presented to over 2500 local students. Throughout March 2024 The Ebell hosted 3200 students for six on-campus performances of The Everywhere of Her in the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, as well as two free community performances at the Julian Dixon Library in Culver City.

Docent Tours
The Ebell is working to establish a dedicated team of trained volunteer docents to lead informative tours of The Ebell’s historic campus on Wilshire Boulevard. These public tours, available by reservation, will provide open access to one of LA’s most extraordinary landmarks. Official tour information will be announced at a later date.

Oral History Project
In collaboration with the volunteer members of The Ebell and multiple community partners, The Ebell will document, record, and disseminate voices and narratives of 20th-century Los Angeles women. The initiative will chronicle the lesser-known women’s history of one of the largest cities in the world and protect this knowledge for generations to come.

To stay in touch, and receive regular updates regarding The Ebell of LA’s latest news and events sign up for emails at:

About The Ebell of Los Angeles
The Ebell of Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization founded in 1894 by women for women. It is focused on providing a vibrant and inclusive arts and culture hub that fosters the educational, cultural and social growth of women. At The Ebell, women convene to learn, create, collaborate, innovate and champion one another to transform the lives of women. The organization’s philanthropic efforts include the RCA endowment which awards annual grants totaling more than $100,000 per year to various nonprofits that assist women and children in need, and the 104-year-old Ebell/Flint Scholarship that has awarded more than 5,000 scholarships to local college and university students. The group’s historic campus located in the Hancock Park/Windsor Square area is an iconic landmark listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

About The Ebell’s Historic Campus
The historic Ebell structure and theatre were built in 1927 and designed by renowned architect Sumner Hunt. The campus originally served as a central hub for learning and arts lectures in support of the education of women. The Art Salon was one of the first art galleries in Los Angeles to showcase the work of female artists. With three levels and over 80,000 square feet, the renaissance-inspired building is a noted architectural treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated Los Angeles Cultural Monument. The building includes a grand dining room, art salon, courtyard garden, 1,238 seat Broadway-style theater and dozens of smaller rooms filled with historical artifacts and original design details.


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