Julie Cohen received her Ph.D. in History with a Graduate Emphasis in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Irvine after completing a dissertation entitled “Pedagogies for ‘Productive Citizenship’: The Cultural Politics of Child Welfare in Early Twentieth-Century Southern California,” which was a finalist for the Lerner-Scott Prize from the Organization of American Historians. Her research interests include late nineteenth and early twentieth-century US History, California and the US West, Women/Gender Studies, Race/Ethnicity and public history and has been supported by a fellowship from the John and Dora Haynes Foundation, as well as grants and awards from the University of California Irvine Research Institute and UC Irvine Humanities Center. She is currently a lecturer in the Department of History at Cal State Los Angeles, where she teaches courses in US History, including Urban America, Civil Rights, Race and Ethnicity, US Women and Gender. She has also served as a lecturer at USC and Loyola Marymount teaching courses in US history, California history, and Youth and Childhood in the US. In addition to teaching and research, Cohen also serves as a public historian, consulting with educators and museums on curriculum and exhibits.
At the Center for the Study of Women, she is exploring Los Angeles-based writers and newspaperwomen during the city’s formative rise in the early twentieth century. Long-forgotten but well-known during their time, writers such as Alma Whitaker, feminist, reporter and columnist for the Los Angeles Times from 1910 to 1944, advanced a strong feminist voice that emphasized economic independence for women. Despite important scholarship on women in the US West, the role of women in the region’s rise is still hidden in plain sight, a side note to the largely male-centered narrative. Yet, by 1920, women outnumbered men in Los Angeles and the city’s labor force included a significantly large number of women who worked after the age of twenty-five. Cohen’s research suggests that the writers in this study contributed to a regional booster campaign that promoted and shaped Los Angeles as a place where women could achieve freedom from the constraints of Victorian gender norms, and specifically, vis-à-vis the workforce. With a focus on these writers, Cohen’s project explores ideas about women and place-making, the intersectionality of race, class, and gender as women settled in the region, women as key historical actors in cultural shifts, and histories of feminism. She has an article forthcoming in Boom: California, Gender, Sex, Sexuality & California Series that centers on Alma Whitaker, Los Angeles and cultural feminist in the 1920s.