An extraordinary gift from a pioneer in gender studies

Joan AldousJoan Aldous Photo: Matt Cashore / University of Notre DameJoan Aldous lived her life building a better world around her. Upon her passing, the ACLU of Indiana was informed that she had left a sizable gift to us in her estate—the single largest gift in our 62-year history. We are both honored and grateful for Joan's belief in our organization and our mission, and we are thankful for donors who share our passion and commitment to justice and equality. Their investment in our mission provides us with the long-term resources needed to guard and expand everyone's civil liberties.

Joan Aldous was a leader. In her community, in the sociology fields of Family and Gender Studies, and at the University of Notre Dame, Joan never shied from standing up for her beliefs, and for her vision of a free and equal society. Early in her career, when masculine pronouns were often used to cover all genders, Joan replaced every "he" with "she" and "his" with "hers." Faced with a department head angered at this "stunt," she didn't back down.

Conducting research in Mississippi and Tennessee in the early 1960s, Joan witnessed the human costs of segregation and Jim Crow laws. Despite strong social taboos, Joan made a point of hosting multicultural academic and social affairs, often deliberately connecting black research assistants with white professors. In this way, as she described it, they desegregated one home at a time.

And as a professor at the University of Minnesota, Joan and her colleague Shirley Clark organized the Committee on Women's Progress, to press for both more women faculty members and higher salaries for them. In a memoir, she described the experience:

"We also approached the University President . . . in his office. As I remember it, he appeared quite terrified as two women, both full professors, invaded his office to urge gender equity."

With planned gifts like Ms. Aldous's, you can make a lasting investment in advancing civil liberties. When you include the ACLU of Indiana in your will or retirement plans, you are creating a legacy of liberty for generations to come. Right now, the Atlantic Philanthropies will give an immediate cash donation matching up to 20 percent of the value of your future gift. To create a planned gift to the ACLU or ACLU of Indiana, please visit, or call us at 317-759-6421.


The ACLU of Indiana's work is powered by your generosity. To support our work in fulfilling the civil liberties promises of the Constitution with a donation today, please visit us at or call us at 317-759-6421.

Despite often rankling university administrations with her demands for equality, Joan was regarded as a leader for her intelligence, devotion to academic rigor, and her respected body of work. Joan was the first woman professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, and at Notre Dame she became the first woman to become full professor, the first woman faculty member to be offered an endowed chair, and the first tenured woman in the Department of Sociology. These firsts culminated in Joan cofounding the Gender Studies program at Notre Dame.

Joan Aldous was a pioneer in expanding equality and freedom throughout her school and her community. We are honored that she would choose the ACLU of Indiana in continuing that legacy. The ACLU depends on the generosity of supporters such as Ms. Aldous for the resources to continue fighting for a free and equal society.



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