My book You Need a Schoolhouse, Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South, was published in 2011 by Northwestern University Press.
I was initially attracted to this subject for family reasons; my husband is a great-grandson of Julius Rosenwald but he knew little about his remarkable forebear. I became interested in Rosenwald’s career and when that led me to the story of his partnership with Booker T. Washington I began to realize how little I knew about the times in which both men lived and, in particular, about conditions surrounding the creation of the Rosenwald schools.
As the daughter of a Foreign Service officer I had spent part of my childhood in New Zealand and went to high school at a French lycée in Paris. In college I studied Russian and Soviet Studies. But the issues that Rosenwald and Washington grappled with one hundred years ago — race relations, education, community, opportunity — have more resonance for me now than the foreign subjects I studied in school. I feel so strongly that all Americans -- we and our children and grandchildren -- need to know our country’s history in order to make sense of the present and chart the way forward. The story of Rosenwald schools touches on so many aspects of our history — immigration, business, philanthopy, and, especially, race relations.
I was born in Washington, D.C. and have lived on Capitol Hill for over forty years. I raised three children here and have participated in the community in many ways. I am chairrman of the grants committee of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, an entirely volunteer-run organization which annually gives away over $350,000 in small grants. My husband, David Deutsch, is a retired television director, active with our local church and Washington National Cathedral as a volunteer verger. He has joined me on many rambles related to my research on Rosenwald and Washington and has been a wonderful photographer (he took the outhouse picture), IT guy, driver and companion. (Our name is pronounced DOITCH).
I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned from this research, especially with elementary, middle and high school students and also with Rosenwald alumni groups.