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Contemporary Women's Movement

Selected Primary Sources in the Sophia Smith Collection

Personal Papers and Organization Records

Noel Phyllis Birkby (1932-1994), architect, activist, and experimental filmmaker. Papers (1932-94) include architectural drawings, photographs, and films. See also Women's School of Planning and Architecture Records.
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Helen Gurley Brown (1922- ), author and editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Papers (1930s- ) include correspondence, editorial memos, schedules, proposals, articles, clippings, promotional material, and photographs.
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Diana Davies, activist, photojournalist, artist, and musician. Papers (1960s- ) include photographs, negatives, copies of original artwork, and printed materials.
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Dori Jacobson, freelance photographer and feminist activist. Her Women's Rights Portfolio (1977-86) consists of photographs of women's rights actions in New York, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.
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Dorothy Kenyon (1888-1972), lawyer, judge, civil liberties activist, feminist, and social reformer. Her papers (1850-1998) document her work investigating the status and legal roles of women, both nationally and internationally, from the 1930s to the 1960s, as part of her work with the League of Nations, and later, the United Nations, as well as with the American Civil Liberties Union.
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National Congress of Neighborhood Women (1975- ), an organization that seeks to empower poor and working-class women to become community leaders through education programs, employment training, leadership training and support, and tenant organizing, both on the national and international level. Records (1974-1999) include administrative correspondence, minutes, publications, project reports, funding proposals, financial records, subject files, photographs, and audiovisual material. The collection offers valuable source material for the study of grassroots activism; working-class feminist organizing; urban studies; and women in community development.
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Linda Stein (1943- ), visual artist, feminist, political activist. Founded Have Art: Will Travel! Inc. to help artists teach, exhibit, and sell their art, and the Art Club, a Tribeca gallery providing free exhibit space for non-profit organizations promoting feminism, diversity, and reproductive rights. Papers (1974-2008) document the evolution of Stein's work both as an artist and as a political activist, and include speeches, diaries and journals, correspondence, videos, and photographs.
[Note: This collection has not been fully processed]
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Gloria Steinem (1934- ), author, feminist activist, and co-founder in 1972, and longtime editor of Ms magazine in 1972. Papers (1940- ) include correspondence, writings, speeches, subject files, memorabilia, photographs, and other papers that document the movement from the standpoint of not only the movers and shakers, but also of individual women at the grassroots level and in general reflect the diversity of the modern women's movement.
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Valley Women's Center (1971-77), provided a myriad of free services to women in the Northampton (Mass.) area, including information about legal and educational resources, pregnancy counseling, and vocational counseling; facilitating support groups; sponsoring lectures, workshops, and other programs; and a library of resource material. Records (1971-77) include correspondence, minutes, histories, photographs, newsletters, brochures, daily logs, publications, and subject files, revealing the inner workings of a local feminist organization at the height of the women's liberation movement in the early 1970s.
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Women's Action Alliance (1971-1997), a national advocacy organization founded to coordinate resources for organizations and individuals involved in the women's movement at the grassroots level. Records (1970-1996) document programs sponsored by WAA, which included coalition-building among women's groups, women's economic development, teenage pregnancy prevention, and non-sexist child development.
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Women's School of Planning and Architecture (1972-81), an experimental, non-hierarchical educational institution founded at the height of the 1970s women's movement. Records (1974-92) include extensive written and audiovisual documentation of the School's sessions on feminist architectural planning and design. There is also rich documentation of the founding, planning, and operation of the School, including minutes and correspondence of the coordinators and founders. See also Noel Phyllis Birkby Papers.
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Subject Collections

Women's Liberation Collection, materials documenting the contemporary women's movement in the Pioneer Valley, New England, and many U.S. cities and campuses. Material (circa 1966-1980) includes speeches, clippings, articles, pamphlets, periodicals, bibliographies, biographical files, catalogs, directories, guides, manuals, position papers, photographs, comic books, cartoons, posters, almanacs, calendars, songs, conference materials, and newsletters of women's centers, women's studies programs, and state and local feminist organizations. Also included are topical files on sexist language, media, maiden names, International Women's Day, women's presses and bookstores, men's studies, and protest actions. View finding aid

Women's Rights Collection includes documents about Seneca Falls and other 19th century U.S. women's conventions and 20th century state, national, and Copenhagen conferences; International Women's Year (1977); the Equal Rights Amendment and other legislations re women's rights (e.g. legal status of homemakers); Massachusetts and national political caucuses; the President's Commission on the Status of Women (1963); and state, UN and other nations' commissions on the status of women. Collection (circa 1846- ) includes reports, speeches, clippings, pamphlets, proceedings, resolutions, lists of participants, biographical sketches, photographs, correspondence, monographs, minutes, and memorabilia. View finding aid

Oral Histories (see also Oral Histories list)

Voices of Feminism Oral History Project

Fifty in-depth interviews document the persistence and diversity of organizing for women in the United States. Narrators include labor, peace, and anti-racism activists; singers, filmmakers and writers; lesbian rights advocates; grassroots anti-violence and anti-poverty organizers; and women of color reproductive justice leaders. Interviews average 5-6 hours and cover childhood, personal life, and political work. Most consist of video taped interviews, transcripts, biographical sketches, background research material compiled by interviewer, and there are some photos. More information about the project.


A variety women's movement magazines, scholarly journals, and newsletters, including local, national and international publications dating from the 1970s to 1990s. View finding aid

For secondary sources, see the Browsing and Reference collections in the Special Collections Reading Room.

(Note: Special Collections is actively collecting personal papers and organization records documenting the second wave feminist movement, especially those documenting women of color. Please see the complete list of collections or contact us for updated information on our holdings.)