Margaret Cruikshank

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Margaret L. Cruikshank
Born (1940-04-26) April 26, 1940 (age 80)
Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Margaret Louise Cruikshank (born 1940) is an American lesbian feminist writer and academic. She was one of the first American academics to be out during a time when gay rights were an unfamiliar concept.

Early life and career[edit]

Margaret Louise Cruikshank was born in Duluth, Minnesota on April 26, 1940 to George Patrick and Louise Wimmer.[1] She attended The College of St. Scholastica, obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in English in 1962. In the early 1960s she came out as a lesbian within the Minneapolis lesbian-feminist community. She received her Ph.D in Victorian literature from Loyola University, writing her dissertation on Thomas B. Macaulay. Cruikshank taught English at Loyola, Central College and St. John's University. In 1975 she began teaching at Minnesota State University, establishing the first women's studies department at the university, serving as director. Upon her arrival at MSU she was closeted publicly as a lesbian, and by her leave in 1977, to move to San Francisco, she was open to her colleagues.[2]

Teaching career in San Francisco[edit]

Upon moving to San Francisco, Cruikshank worked as resource director for the short-lived Gay National Educational Switchboard; an organization that provided information through a toll-free telephone number. In August 1980 she became head of a small program of the Continuing Education department at the University of San Francisco. She then went on to teach at the English department at the City College of San Francisco, teaching ESL and working with CCSF faculty to incorporate gay/lesbian studies into curriculum. Her successful efforts inspired CCSF to open their Castro/Valencia Campus, and in 1982 Cruikshank was the first woman to teach the college's lesbian and gay literature class, which she taught until 1996. During the 1980s she also served as an affiliate scholar at the Center for Research on Women at Stanford University. In 1992, she received her Master of Arts in gerontology from San Francisco State University. In 1992 and 1993 she taught a course in lesbian and gay aging at City College of San Francisco. She continued to teach at CCSF until her move to Maine in 1997.[2]


Her research and educational work focuses on awareness and acceptance of lesbian academia and the exclusion of lesbian literature and criticism from traditional literature studies and women's studies. Her work has been published in Gay Community News, Radical Teacher, the Journal of Homosexuality and The Advocate. Her anthologies The Lesbian Path (1980), Lesbian Studies: Present and Future (1982), and New Lesbian Writing (1984) helped to establish lesbian studies as a part of women's studies in the academy.[1]

Cruikshank's 1980 anthology, The Lesbian Path, included short personal narratives of lesbians. Her 1982 anthology, Lesbian Studies: Present and Future, highlights the importance of lesbian studies in higher learning and includes experiences of lesbians in the academy. New Lesbian Writing, her third anthology, was published in 1984 and includes fiction and non-fiction from lesbians. Her 1995 book Fierce with Reality includes essays by lesbian writers and focuses on aging.[1]

Current life[edit]

Cruikshank lives in a small fishing village on the eastern coast of Maine. After teaching English, gay/lesbian studies and women's studies for many years, she retired from the University of Maine in 2011. She continues as a faculty associate at The Maine Center on Aging.[3] In 1997, she donated a selection of her archives to the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives in West Hollywood. She is a recipient of two Fulbright senior specialist awards, one for the University of Victoria's Centre on Aging (2007) and a forthcoming one at the University of Graz in Austria.[citation needed]


  • Cruikshank, Margaret. Fierce with Reality: An Anthology of Literature on Aging. St. Cloud: North Star Press 1995; Topsham: Just Write Books (2006)ISBN 978-0-9788628-0-0
  • Cruikshank, Margaret. The Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movement (Revolutionary Thought and Radical Movements). London: Routledge (1992). ISBN 0-415-90648-2
  • Cruikshank, Margaret. Learning to Be Old: Gender, Culture and Aging. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2009). ISBN 0-7425-6594-7
  • Cruikshank, Margaret. Lesbian Path. Monterey: Angel Press 1980. San Francisco: Grey Fox Press (1985). ISBN 0-912516-96-8
  • Cruikshank, Margaret. Lesbian Studies: Present and Future. Old Westbury: The Feminist Press (1982) ISBN 0-935312-07-2
  • Cruikshank, Margaret. New Lesbian Writing. San Francisco: Grey Fox Press (1984) ISBN 978-0-912516-81-3
  • Zimmerman, Bonnie and Toni McNaron, eds. The New Lesbian Studies: Into the Twenty-First Century. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY (1996). ISBN 1-55861-136-3
  • Cruikshank, Margaret. Thomas Babington Macaulay. Boston: Twayne Pubs (1978). ISBN 0-8057-6686-3


  1. ^ a b c Gaard, Greta (2000). Zimmerman, Bonnie (ed.). Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures. New York: Garland. pp. 213–214. ISBN 978-0-8153-3354-8.
  2. ^ a b "Margaret Cruikshank papers (Collection Number 1847)". Department of Special Collections. Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA. 2007. Retrieved 13 Aug 2011.
  3. ^ "Author Talks: Margaret Cruikshank". Just Write Books. 4 August 2013. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2016.