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Eminent Historian to Discuss Role of Women in Postwar Effort to Aid Displaced Persons

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)January 29, 2016

MAHWAH, N.J. – Dr. Ellen Ross, Emerita Professor of History and Women’s Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey, will discuss “Food and Shelter for Seven Million: The Women of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) 1945-1947” on Thursday, February 25 at noon in the Robert A. Scott Student Center (SC157-158). The Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies will sponsor this event.

Professor Ross will look at some of the encounters the women of UNRRA had with the occupying armies and with the displaced persons who became their responsibility within days of the war’s end. Like their male colleagues, they were faced with a massive human catastrophe: millions of workers whom the Germans had enslaved during the war were liberated and on their own, the death toll of the concentration camps as small groups of Jewish survivors returned, and larger numbers of Jews who drifted into the U.S. and British zones to escape from the virulent anti-Semitism in their countries of origin.

UNRRA, the international government-funded organization that the Allies formed to repair the human and physical destruction of the Second World War, hired nearly as many women as men for its staff of ten thousand. The largest female contingent was American, the second-largest British. The salary was the highest most of the women had ever earned and their mandate was daunting.

Prior to her retirement from Ramapo College in December 2014, Professor Ross co-chaired the women’s studies program and taught courses in Women’s Studies and in British and European history.  She holds a B. A. and Ph. D. from the University of Chicago and an M.A. from Columbia University. She has held a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships for College Teachers, a Leverhulme visiting professorship at London Metropolitan University, and a fellowship at the National Humanities Center.

Her previous research has focused on London women’s history: Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London (1993); and the anthology Slum Journeys: Lady Explorers “In Darkest London” (2007). Other published research deals with missions and missionaries in central London in the late 19th century. Her current research is on the transformation of female philanthropy in the inter-war period:  Girls Club Leader to “Mother of Millions:” from Social Work to Global Humanitarianism in Britain, 1914-1950.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per

Ramapo College provides its students with individualized attention, mentorship, and supports; hands-on learning; and a range of opportunities for service and leadership development. Its graduation and retention rates exceed national averages and it places approximately 1,000 students per year in internships in New York City. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice; is recognized as the state’s top college on the list of Best Disability Schools by Great Value Colleges; is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools; and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others.  

Ramapo College’s over 40,000 alumni are the confident, intellectually curious, self-aware, and humble people who are highly sought after and who make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels.  Ramapo College is distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by Every student at Ramapo is enrolled in its unique and award winning Pathways Program which equips and empowers students, across the continuum of their academic career, to secure internships, pursue graduate/professional school, and/or enter the job market. 

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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