Meridel LeSueur

Meridel LeSueur celebrating receiving the Lumen Vitae Award
Meridel LeSueur
Article honoring Meridel LeSueur, along with sketches

Dublin Core


Meridel LeSueur


LeSueur, Meridel


Meridel LeSueur was a Minnesota-based writer and feminist. On May 8, 1987, LeSueur became the first recipient of the College of Saint Benedict’s Lumen Vitae (Light of Life) Award. The award is given to people who illuminate the lives of others. President S. Colman O’Connell presented LeSueur with the award. The film, My People are My Home, which showcased the political and artistic life of LeSueur, was shown on each campus, three times.

Meridel LeSueur wrote short stories and poems on the lives of working people, immigrants, and Native women. On March 6, 1984, a one-woman performance of “Ripenings” was done as a part of Women’s Week at the College of Saint Benedict. “Ripenings” is about a young, Midwestern girl’s journey into womanhood in the 1930s. It is based off LeSueur’s prose and poetry. It was a traveling show, directed by Lynn Kremer-Babcock. It was performed by Moll Culligan.

LeSueur started writing in the 1920s and was a renowned author into the 1930s. Her story, “I was Marching,” was a story about a mass workers strike, became a classic among 1930’s literature. She lost her status in the 1940s when she was blacklisted because of her radical political views. In 1954, LeSueur was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, but she could not be found. LeSueur’s work began to regain attention in the 1960s during the Women’s Movement. In 1980, she received the National Endowment Creative Fellowship, the highest award the US government can bestow on a writer. She was also named Poet Laureate of the Twin Cities in 1980 by Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser at a city-wide celebration of her 80th birthday. Ripening, published in 1982, contains her most famous works. LeSueur continued writing as she reached 90.

Sister Nancy Hynes was greatly inspired by LeSueur and spent her year sabbatical at Yale University and the University of Minnesota researching LeSueur and other notable women writers. S. Hynes presented her paper “Meridel LeSueur: Survival is a Form of Resistance,” at the 19th Wyoming Conference on English in 1989. Some of Hynes’ research came from the unpublished journals of Meridel LeSueur (1929-1943) from the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. On January 14, 1999, Hynes gave her speech “Survival is a Form of Resistance” to the St. Cloud Reading Room, which is the oldest book club in St. Cloud. The speech focused on LeSueur. Hynes also published an article on LeSueur for Women in World History, which was a new reference book.


College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University


College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Archives


College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University, “Meridel LeSueur,” College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Libraries, accessed August 18, 2022,