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Ruth Harriet Jacobs, Ph.D.

Senior Scholar

Outrageous Older Woman Ruth Harriet Jacobs, 1924-2013


Ruth Harriet Jacobs joined the Center for Research on Women at the Wellesley Centers for Women in 1979. She was a professor of sociology at Boston University, chair of the sociology department at Clark University, and a distinguished visiting professor at the College of William and Mary.

Dr. Jacobs has given many talks in low-income elder housing throughout the state of Massachusetts under sponsorship of the Tenants Assistance Program of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency. The majority of her audiences are women, as women have longer lives and older women are among the poorest Americans. Her talks, Aging Outrageously and Courageously, the ABCs of Aging, and Women After Eighty: Reflecting, Advocating, Living Fully, featured advice on self care and the elderly getting the help they need.

Dr. Jacobs has also spoken throughout New England and the country at senior centers, continuing care communities, assisted living facilities, Red Hat Society meetings, and to professionals in the field of aging as requested. In addition to her presentations on aging, she has also taught memoir writing as a creative way to put our lives in perspective. She is the author of nine books including Be an Outrageous Older Woman, published by Harper Collins, and ABCs for Seniors: Successful Aging Wisdom from an Outrageous Gerontologist, published in 2006 by Hatala Geroproducts.

She taught in the Lifetime Learning programs at Brandeis University and Regis College, and Continuing Education Unit classes for psychologists, nurses, physicians, social workers, and others who care for elders. In addition to her nine books, she has contributed many chapters and articles to anthologies and professional and literary journals. Her play, Happy Birthday, read from scripts and cast from audiences, is distributed by the Wellesley Centers for Women. She has been awarded grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and many non-government foundations and agencies. Dr. Jacobs has received numerous awards, including one for mentoring, and has been given residence at artists' colonies. Dr. Jacobs received a B.S. from Boston University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University.