Three boxes of correspondence, awards, memorabilia, photographic slides, speeches, sermons, and conference/meeting and marketing/publicity materials document Sherry Merfish's activism from 1971 to 1993 to end the negative stereotyping of Jewish women in the guise of the "Jewish American Princess" and, to a lesser extent, her work with EMILY'S List. Of particular interest is correspondence from Merfish to individuals and organizations that had employed the JAP stereotype, a number of JAP greeting cards, a JAP paper doll book, and a letter from Ann Richards just prior to her announcing a run for Texas governor.
This material is open for research. Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the Sherry Merfish Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.
Biographical / Historical
Sherry Merfish is an attorney and writer. She graduated with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1975, she earned a Master's degree in American Studies from the University of Southern California at Los Angeles.
Ms. Merfish taught college English from 1975 through 1978. In 1981, she graduated from the University of Houston College of Law and then served as briefing attorney for a state appellate court judge. She practiced law for six years in Houston before deciding to combine her backgrounds in the fields of law and writing to write about legal and social issues.
Ms. Merfish organized a Task Force to combat negative stereotyping of Jewish women in the guise of the Jewish American Princess and traveled across the country for years lecturing on the subject. Articles on her work have appeared in a number of publications including The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.
Ms. Merfish joined EMILY'S List in 1993 as a development staff member and served as Majority Council Director from 1993 to 2009. She is an active community leader and has served on a number of committees and boards including the Houston Area Women's Center, Planned Parenthood, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, and is a former member of the Young Leadership Cabinet.
The collection contains correspondence, awards, memorabilia, photographic slides, speeches, sermons, and conference/meeting and marketing/publicity materials that document Sherry Merfish's activism to end the negative stereotyping of Jewish women in the guise of the "Jewish American Princess" and, to a lesser extent, her work with EMILY'S List.
The materials in this collection have been arranged in eight series as follows:
Series I: Correspondence;
Series II: Meeting/Conference Materials;
Series III: Memorabilia;
Series IV: Personal;
Series V: Photographic Materials;
Series VI: Publications/Publicity/Academic papers;
Series VIII: Speeches
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Sherry Merfish donated the papers in December of 2018 and January of 2019.
A Senior Essay by Jocelyn Wexler, titled Against the Jewish American Princess: A Case Study in Jewish Organizing and an Analysis of a "Mythical" Subculture, is located in this collection's control folder. The Sherry Merfish Papers were used in Wexler's research.
One copy of "Death of a "Jewish American Princess" by Shirley Frondorf was removed from the collection, cataloged and is available at the Woodson Research Center: HV6534 .S48 F76