Bernita A. Bowen

                                        Kellogg Project

                                        Syracuse University

                                        Syracuse, N.Y.

                                        April, 1988




     There seems to have been little about Eva vom Baur Hansl

that was ordinary--except the situation in which she found

herself as an educated American woman in the first half of the

twentieth century.  Born in Harlem in 1889, she was the youngest

of six daughters in a middle class family of German origins.  She

graduated from Barnard in 1909 and began a career in journalism

writing for the New York Times, Sun, and Tribune.  After

graduation from college, she was named a member of the Board of

Directors of the Intercollegiate Bureau of Occupations, which

some years later merged with the New York State Employment

Service.  (Lobach, n.d.)

     Around 1920, Eva married Raleigh Hansl and traded a full-

time career for motherhood and homemaking by 1924.  Perhaps

societal restructuring during a time of suffragettes and a World

War coupled with a personal restructuring between college

graduation, journalism career, and motherhood brought Eva to a

point of conflict or dysjuncture.  This point represented

uncharted territory for other women as well.  Her letters,

writings, and speeches all seem to indicate she found herself

caught between the many shifting roles, ideologies, and attitudes

of a changing twentieth century.

     Eva Hansl's written materials span a period of over fifty

years beginning with her 1909 journalism career.  Their formats

varied from newspaper articles (1911-1916) to speeches, lectures,

and seminars given at New York University and Columbia between 1916

and 1939, and for numerous parents' and women's groups over

an even larger span of years. 

     Her attempts at educating covered many types of adults.  Her

educational writings were not restricted to only lectures and

speeches, however.  Hansl frequently wrote magazine articles for

Harper's, Ladies Home Journal, Coronet, acted as editor for the

fledgling Parents' Magazine, and published a study for the

Journal of the National Association Women Deans and Counselors

which traced careers and histories of women who dropped out of

jobs for a period of homemaking.  (The Eva Hansl Collection, Box

1)  This type of writing spanned a period of years from the early

1920s through 1962.  It served to illuminate issues such as

women's multiple roles in American society and the conflicts

these roles raise socially and economically.  An offshoot issue

resulted regarding the needs throughout society for part-time

study for academic credit.

     Additionally, Eva Hansl published a book in 1949, Trends in

Part Time Employment of College Trained Women, which used her

vast collection of research for the purpose of suggesting "a

campaign for research and action necessary to produce changes in

our economy" with part-time employment for educated women seen as

the "vocational link between higher education and the family"

(Hansl, 1949, p.7).  This was the first book written on part-time

work.  It not only defined issues for women, and charted possible

conflicts or resolutions in diagram-like format, but also viewed

such subjects in relation to the larger society.  The book

enlightens and informs through a balanced blend of theory and

data with implications for practice.  Hansl ends by calling women

to a recognition of issues and a solidarity in acting on them.

She offers a specific plan for "Research, Propaganda, and Action"

on all fronts using resources at hand such as husbands,

education, local groups, counseling, and job placement

opportunities.  (Hansl, 1949, pp.47-48)     




     In recognizing such problems for many women plus her own

situational and attitudinal conflicts, Hansl took the first step

in helping others.  She has been described as wanting "the best

of all worlds for all women" (Lobach n.d., p.7).  Whatever had

impact on the lives of women interested her, and she

energetically acted on that interest.  She spent over fifty years

researching, writing, and travelling in order to meet what she

perceived as a need by educated American women for consciousness-

raising and change.  Her resultant education of adults was aimed

at defining and recognizing these women as a political force,

economic factor, and unique social group with changing multiple


     Her attempts at consciousness-raising and her dialogue for

change seem to have been based on two main approaches:  research

and education, for and about women.  Though her primary target

was the educated American female, her research and areas of

interest were more broadly defined as anything pertinent to the

lives of women.

     Her method, then, was to explore and disseminate information

on all aspects of women's social, political, economic, and cultural

interactions in American life.  In the area of research,

her methodology was affected by her constant collecting of

materials relative to women's interests and accomplishments.

This eventually became what is known as the "Perspective on Women

in the U.S.A." Collection, now housed in the George Arents

Research Library of Syracuse University.  This collection not

only formed a unique data base from which many women's groups,

universities, and government agencies borrowed material, but its

collection also served indirectly to publicize women's issues.

This, in turn, served to create a broad and efficient network

which one university guidance head and student personnel

administrator who knew Hansl described as "cross-fertilizing the

ideas of many people" (Lloyd-Jones, 1960, p.2).

     In the area of education, her methodology was most directly

affected through lectures and speeches, the creation and

production of three noted radio series, and the publication of

the book which explored 1949 the "effect of discontinuity in

study and employment" for women who raise families.  (Lobach,

n.d., p.3)

     Through this dual focused methodology Hansl was able to both

gather and disseminate information.  In fact, until the end of

World War II she crossed the country several times for various

purposes.  She used these opportunities to best advantage by

gathering data on women, interviewing educators and labor

relations personnel, and visiting war installations in

conjunction with her radio script work with the WPA, United

States Office of Education, and War Manpower Commission who

sponsored her.  Always she was seeking and sharing information on

women's issues and interests.

     The goals of her methodology were described by Hansl herself

in terms of finding a "point of intersection" for educated

women's best interests "where her family, her job, and her

community all meet" (Hansl, 1949, p.10).  Potential critics of

her goals or objectives may fail to realize that though her

interests covered all women over a wide historical range and in

many economies and geographic locales, her main goal seems to

have been to choose one small segment--that segment in which she

saw herself located--in which to activate change.  This seems a

prudent strategy.  It allows for (a) a tighter focus on issues

and efficient use of energies, (b) suggests a greater potential

for success because of the former, and (c) gave Hansl, as

activator, the obvious advantages of having a personal stake and

an inside view of issues and avenues.  In short, she lived the

life of the women she wished to study and aid.


                       ADVOCACY ACTIVITIES


     Hansl did live a life that provided a personal state in

various advocacy activities.  Specifically, the contextual givens

around which she based her activities were the following:

     1.   In the first half of the twentieth century, educated

women in America were facing the modern woman's dilemma.  This

dilemma was defined as recognition of the fact that women may

need to work, and certainly have the right to work, but have

difficulty doing this (economically and socially) if they also

must maintain the dual job or role of homemaker.

     2.   These women have this need and/or right because work in

our society is measured in terms of dollars and cents.

     3.   There are increasing opportunities for both women's

education and employment during this first half century, most due

to milestones such as suffrage and two world wars.  Additionally,

1949 saw a period of high peacetime employment with a shortage of

technically and professionally trained workers available (college

educated women).

     4.   Educated American women could and should be what Hansl

described as salvaged from waste to continue to contribute to

larger society and fulfill an obligation to improve the image of

and opportunities for all part-time workers.  (Hansl, 1949, pp.


     In short, Hansl acted as both prophet and "catalytic agent"

in setting and acting on goals.  (Lloyd-Jones, 1960, p.1)  She

was prophetic in suggesting that on the changing face of the

world it was probable that more and more educated American women,

and women in general, would need to work at some point in their

lives.  Her research suggested economic changes and increased

human longevity as causes for this.  (Hansl, 1949)

     Hansl saw the value of her own work through its far reaching

potential benefits to larger society in important social,

political, and economic ways.  She felt, then, that the study and

improvement of the modern woman's lot could be linked to benefits

for American society as a whole.

     In terms of advocacy for dynamic social change, Hansl may be

viewed by today's eyes as fitting under any number of labeled

categories.  These views intertwine with perceptions of her role

as an adult educator.  Hansl's interests and activities in

contexts of sociology and education can be compared with current


     . . . the key words are struggle and shaping.  They

     point to structural issues.  Our problems are systemic

     . . . Each aspect of the social process . . . serves to

     affect the relationships within and among the others.

     As a mode of production attempts to reproduce the

     conditions of its own existence, "it" creates

     antagonisms and contradictions in other spheres.  As

     groups of people struggle over issues of gender, race,

     and class in each of these spheres, the entire social

     process, including "the economy," is also affected.

     (Apple, 1981, p.27)

Apple goes on to say that these struggles are not mere

abstractions or static concepts in some social process construct,

but rather they are real and intrinsic in our daily lives:

"People like us live them" (1981, p.27).

     Here lies the strength and uniqueness of Eva Hansl as both a

strategist or agent-for-change and educator.  In a letter to

Hansl, a reader of one of her articles published in Harper's in

1927 offers congratulations.  She praises Hansl for not only

focusing on issues important to women, but for translating those

issues into language that is both clear and connected to the

realities of women's daily lives.  The letter writer says that

Hansl dealt with the facts that "our brain-ideas often have to be

overthrown by our life-ideas" and that we all have our "crude

anticipations" of the social process but "Life smashes in!"

(MacNeille, 1927, p.3).

     Through both her research and her personal involvement in

the issues, Hansl gained a unique capacity to work within the

system but to struggle with issues and shape some changes.  What

is both honest and vital about Hansl's struggle and shaping, as

both educator and agent for change, is the fact that it reflects

her own journey through the social process.

     Her issue-oriented focus varied somewhat as her own roles

and circumstances changed.  For example, in 1923 she helped draft

a resolution for a convention of the American Association of

University Women in Portland, Oregon:

     . . . the avowed purpose of women's education is to

     help the individual to develop her innate capacities

     and orient herself in nature . . . develop her mind as

     an instrument and to equip herself with knowledge . . .

     (Hansl & Puffer-Howe, 1923, p.1)

Later, she slightly re-shaped her focus to include factors such

as motherhood and parenting for women, particularly educated

women who may feel even more duplicity of role. 

     Her continued journey through the social process within

which she found herself living, created more change and she

further re-shaped her focus in 1927.  At this time she

participated in the report making of a study and discussion group

comprised of women specialists in sociology, vocations,

economics, child welfare, and psychology.  The group's focus was

on "the total life situation of any mother" whose situation

caused her to find herself in "a variety of relationships"

including with a husband, children, community, work, and her own

personhood (Report on the Discussion Group on Mothers and Time,


     Some twenty years later, her focus changed again to reflect

the circumstances of a post-war economy and the dilemma of the

woman who wants to or must "keep one hand in [the job market]

while she rocks the cradle with the other" (Hansl, 1949, p.27).

     Rather than view this focus change as ideological

discrepancy or weakness, it may be seen as a strong point in

Hansl's perceptual activity.  Her flexibility allowed her to

adapt both focus and strategy to ever-changing social, political,

economic, and cultural contexts of women's issues.  Though her

focus allowed for flexibility, her energies were not scattered--

nor were her goals or the methods used to achieve the goals.


                       HER DUAL APPROACH


     As stated earlier, Hansl's goal was to recognize and define

the educated American woman's struggle to find a "point of

intersection" in her multiple roles in American society, "to

discover her obstacles and how to remove them," and "to suggest a

campaign for research and action necessary to produce changes"

(Hansl, 1949, p.7).

     To achieve the above, she chose a primarily dual approach:

research and education.  Specifically, Hansl's dual approach--and

her achievements--can be exemplified most clearly by two of her

efforts.  first, the ongoing collection of materials which she

gathered over years for the "Perspective on Women in the U.S.A."

Collection.  In writing of Hansl's research collection, Lloyd-

Jones said this:

     She has maintained files that fairly burst with clippings

     and reports of all sorts.  She has maintained a keen

     interest in adult education, in the changing patterns

     of women's lives, in vocational guidance, and deserves

     a great deal of credit for the role that she has played

     in stimulating people to work in these fields. (1960,


     The Hansl collection contains a variety of reference

material, including personal letters, advertisements, long lists

of biographies and reference books about women which Hansl had

read and recorded, various brochures, booklets, pamphlets, and

advertisements--all pertinent to women in history, politics, the

home, and the work force.  It is obvious that Hansl's interest

was intense.  It is also obvious that the value of such a vast

and varied collection was not only in its serving as a data base

for Hansl and the others with whom she shared this information in

her lectures and speeches.  The collection also served a role in

establishing a broad network through which Hansl not only sought

information, but shared information, encouraged exploration of

ideas and issues, and effectively publicized it all.  Another

valuable side effect of the research collection was that Hansl

used it to create human linkages, to put people in touch with

people.  In this regard, Lloyd-Jones recounts a story about

supervising a doctoral candidate who wanted to work in the field

of adult education, particularly with adult women.  Lloyd-Jones

put the student in touch with Hansl, who put her in touch with a

project with the New York State Business and Professional Women's

Clubs.  Hansl and the student shared collected data, and later

Hansl nominated the student for a fellowship grant from the

women's clubs.  (Lloyd-Jones, 1960, p.1)

     Hansl herself may have felt that one of the most valuable

aspects of her research was that it gave her materials of

substance with which to raise the consciousness of women and

American society--and with which to educate them.  certainly this

value is indicated in what may be considered the highlights of

her informative and educational achievements--her written

materials and her role in the production of three noted radio

series about women.

     Between 1939 and 1943 she combined what she had learned

through her research, networking, and writing to produce the

radio series.  Though this achievement covered only about four

years of Hansl's lifetime, it represents a monumental effort

toward the recognition and definition of American women's roles

and abilities.  Certainly, viewed within the context of American

life at that time, this undertaking must have been both

unprecedented and at least somewhat courageous.

     The latter of the three series, called "Womanpower" and

produced between 1942 and 1943, was probably least educational in

the broader contexts of Hansl's usual interests and objectives.

For "Womanpower" Hansl was loaned to CBS by the Washington based

War Manpower Commission.  Though her actual role with the

commission was in its Nutrition Division (another of her

interests), Hansl was asked to supervise this production due to

her knowledge of journalism, radio, and women's issues.  Though

the program focused on women, it may be seen as limited in its

educational scope since it was described as "the only official

Government program to recruit women" (Lobach, n.d., p.4).

     Hansl's two earlier radio series, however, may be viewed as

innovative and somewhat broader in educational scope.  Though

these series were done in cooperation with the WPA and the United

States Office of Education, and there existed a war time purpose

of showing "the part women have played in the government" and

"how women have advanced in government from local to national,"

they appear to have been an effective vehicle for consciousness-

raising and education as well (Burke, 1940, p.1).

     Some forty-seven scripts, including background research

files for them, were given to Syracuse University and are housed

in the Arents Research Library.  An examination of these scripts

shows that though many of the scripts were actually written by

Jane Ashman (complete with directions and cues), much of the

research, script outlining, interviewing, publicity, and

promotion was accomplished by Hansl.  Broadcast from May of 1939

through 1940 from Station WJZ and the Blue Network of NEC, the

half-hour shows were a stage for recognizing and defining women

as a political force, an economic factor, and a unique social

group with multiple roles throughout American history.

     For the most part, the script formats were roughly the same:

(a) a narrated introduction of the particular episode's topic or

purpose, (b) a storyline which used actors to reveal past and

present attitudes and obstacles surrounding American women, and

(c) a speech by or interview with prominent figures of the day

regarding women's interests and abilities.  What is extraordinary

about the scripts is the breadth of the topics they cover.

Included were such topics as the following:  "Women as Teachers,"

"Women in Politics and Government," "Women Through Space and

Time," "Women Refugees," "Women and Laws," and "Women in

Agriculture," "Women and the Press," "Women The Providers."  This

latter script illustrated the role of Juliet Corson and other

American women who studied nutrition for the poor and ways to

feed "the working man" in promoting good health.  "Women as

Voters" and "Disabled Women" were the topics of other show

scripts, as well as "Women in Sports" and "Women in Business."

Each of these generated individual show scripts often done within

broader categories such as "Freedom of Education" or "Freedom of

Speech," reflecting both the times and the shows' sponsors.

     The ingeniousness of the series' educational strategies

seems evident in their structure:  they introduced issues,

illuminated attitudes, and produced well-known figures who

discussed the women's roles and frequently ignored

accomplishments.  The first series actually demonstrated Hansl's

position, goals, and methodology.  It proceeded as follows:

music, narrator announcing show title, and male and female actors

opened by talking in a "typical" conversation which reflected

attitudes such as the inferiority of women and how women should

be allowed no rights in government.  The show then proceeded to

describe many notable and accomplished women throughout American

history, with periodic interjections of other dialogue.  These

included a Depression Era dialogue between husband and wife

depicting the wife "going back to work" and the unemployed

husband's negative attitude, and a dramatized interview with

Amelia Earhart discussing her husband's support of her multiple

interests and roles.  The show ended in what was then the

present, whereupon the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt closed the

episode actually speaking from the White House.  Most of the

remainder of the series's scripts are structurally similar:

introduction of issues, exposure of dominant attitudes about

women and the obstacles facing them, with support for change or

action through linkages to prominent figures or respected

authorities at the show's close.  (Ashman, 1939) 


                       CONCLUDING COMMENTS


     In viewing Eva vom Baur Hansl's research, writing, and

activities, there is not simple analysis that is possible.  The

woman's broad view of women's issues and collection of materials

on them is astounding.  Her attempts to educate both men and

women about women have been shown to be both energetic and

innovative.  Her special focus on the category of educated

American women, in which she found herself, put her at the

forefront of research on and exploration of new issues and roles

for women in the rapidly changing twentieth century.

     Perhaps in this light, Eva Hansl also may be seen as a kind

of prophet.  Not in typically narrow terms as one who predicts

the future, although she did accurately predict many trends for

women's futures, but in some of the other possible definitions of

the word suggested by Ohliger (1987b).  Perhaps, the simplest and

most apt definition of Hansl and her work is to be found in a

prophecy which is characterized by clearly seeing some essential

truth(s) and, as Ohliger described, depending on "choice, action,

and human spirit" for its completion--affirmative, and

"realistic" (Ohliger, 1987a, p.3).




Apple, M.W. (1981).  Reproduction, contestation, and curriculum:

     An essay in self-criticism.  Interchange, 12 (2-3),



Ashman, J. (1939).  Women in the making of America.  (NBC, WJZ,

     New York, 19 May).  The Eva Hansl collection (Box 14).

     Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University, George Arents

     Research Library.


Burke, W.S. (1940).  Memo from the U.S. Office of Education on

     Gallant American Women Series (1940).  The Eva Hansl

     collection (Box 7).  Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse

     University, George Arents Research Library.


Hansl, E., & Puffer-Howe, M. (1923).  Amendment to Resolution for

     AAUW Convention at Portland, Oregon (Summer).  The Eva

     Hansl collection (Box 1).  Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse

     University, George Arents Research Library.


Hansl, E. (1949).  Trends in part time employment of college

     trained women.  New York: The Woman's Press.


Lloyd-Jones, E. (1960).  To whom it may concern (June 8).  The

     Eva Hansl collection (Box 1).  Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse

     University, George Arents Research Library.


Lobach, K.S. (n.d.).  New Yorker profile suggestion to editor.

     The Eva Hansl collection (Box 1).  Syracuse, N.Y.:

     Syracuse University, George Arents Research Library.


MacNeille, P.R. (1927).  Letter of congratulations on Harper's

     article.  The Eva Hansl Collection (Box 1).  Syracuse,

     N.Y.: Syracuse University, George Arents Research



Ohliger, J. (1987a).  If winter comes.  (One World of Cultures

     Series Wayland House, University of Wisconsin-Madison

     Campus, February 27).  Reprinted in ATE 600, Radical

     Thinking in Adult Education.