History Department
History Department

Isabelle S. Headrick

M.A., University of Texas at Austin; B.A., Oberlin College

PhD Candidate


Jews in the Middle East and the Global France. Modern education movement, girls' education, and the Alliance Israélite Universelle Jewish schools in Iran.


My research explores the interactive histories of Jews, Iran, the global France, education, the family, and women through the framework of one family of French-Jewish school directors. Between 1908 and 1978 three generations of this family, including three sisters, lived and worked in Iran for the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU), a Paris-based transnational Jewish educational philanthropy with French-language schools throughout the Middle East. Through their experiences and those of their AIU and Iranian colleagues, I examine changes for Jews and women in Iran over the twentieth century and the ways that those changes were partially propelled by the activities of the AIU as it partnered with the emerging Iranian state.

My work has received generous support from the Chateaubriand Fellowship Program, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the American Academy of Jewish Research, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, and the University of Texas’s Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, Center for European Studies, and Department of History.

Prior to entering the history program, I worked for fifteen years as an affordable housing non-profit director and developer in Austin with organizations that serve people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, seniors, and families with children. I graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Russian Studies and a minor in Black Studies and earned a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin.