Obituaries: Marjory Nelson

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday September 26, 2018
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December 20, 1928 — September 11, 2018

Social activist, teacher, and writer Marjory Nelson died September 11, 2018, in San Francisco at age 89.

Marjory (Marge) Nelson was a pioneer in women's studies. Her life journey took her from a Victorian childhood to life as a 1950s housewife to San Francisco's lesbian community. Her work was grounded in a keen sense of social justice. Her doctoral work in historical sociology at SUNY Buffalo was a case study of the National Women's Party, and she developed and taught women's studies at Antioch College in the early 1970s. She came out with Polly Taylor, a Quaker pacifist, moving to San Francisco in 1978 in search of older women's community. Marge was active in Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, or OLOC, for many years.

Marge is listed in "Feminists who Changed America 1963-1975." She was a 2004 honoree of the Pat Bond Memorial Old Dyke Awards. Materials from her life as a lesbian activist (1947-2006) are in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, an internationally recognized archive of women's history.

A passionate gardener, Marge cultivated gardens of great beauty and abundance. She is survived by her partner, Sandra Shepherd; three children; two grandchildren; and a son-in-law.