Papers of Mary Lee Sargent, 1982-2004
Correspondence, flyers, notes, audiovisual material, photographs, legal documents, publicity, and clippings documenting actions organized by the Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens and Women Rising in Resistance.
- Sargent, Mary Lee (Person)
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mary Lee Sargent is held by Mary Lee Sargent until her death. Upon Sargent's death, copyright transfers and is assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent3.84 linear feet ((8 file boxes, 1 card file box) plus 1 folio folder, 1 oversize folder, 33 photograph folders, 22 audiotapes, 6 videotapes, 11 DVDs, 4 motion pictures, 1 object, 2 archived web sites)
The papers of Mary Lee Sargent contain correspondence, flyers, notes, audiovisual material, photographs, legal documents, publicity, and clippings documenting actions organized by the Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens and Women Rising in Resistance. Folder titles were created by Mary Lee Sargent. Materials are arranged alphabetically in three series.
Series I, RECORDS, 1982-2000 (#1.1-9CB.2m, FD.1, OD.1, Mem.1+, E.1), contains correspondence, flyers, notes, legal documents, publicity, and clippings documenting actions organized by the Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens and Women Rising in Resistance. Most of the material documents the GGSCC's actions in support of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois between June 3rd and 30th, 1982, and Women Rising in Resistance's 1986 Women Take Liberty action. Also included are archived copies Mary Lee Sargent's and the Women Rising in Resistance web sites, which were captured as part of Schlesinger Library's web archiving program.
Series II, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1982-1990 (#PD.1-PD.33), contains images documenting actions organized by the Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens and Women Rising in Resistance, including the GGSCC's actions in support of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois between June 3rd and 30th, 1982, and Women Rising in Resistance's 1986 Women Take Liberty action. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.
Series III, AUDIOVISUAL, 1982-2004 (#T-424.1-T-424.22, DVD-97.1-DVD.11, Vt-219.1-Vt-219.5, MP-89.1-MP-89.4), contains audio and video recordings of actions organized by the Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens and Women Rising in Resistance. DVD-97.1-DVD-97.11 contain oral history interviews with GGSCC members reflecting on actions undertaken by the group in support of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois between June 3rd and 30th, 1982, include oral history interviews with members of the group
BIOGRAPHY OF MARY LEE SARGENT
Mary Lee Sargent, daughter of Benjamin Calvin and Dorothy Herold Sargent, was born in September 1940, in McAllen, Texas, and raised in Dallas. She received a BA in history from Southern Methodist University (1962) and an MA (1964) from the University of Texas at Austin, where she also completed course work towards a PhD. From 1968 to 2001, she was a professor of history and women's studies at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois. Following her retirement from teaching, she remained with the college as the Director of the Office of Women's Programs until 2003.
An active campaigner for women's and LGBTQ rights, Sargent was a cofounder of Women Rising in Resistance, Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens, the 85% Coalition, Women Against Racism, and the Susan B. Anthony Memorial Committee. She also served on the boards of the Greater Community AIDS Project, Women for Habitat for Humanity, Grand Prairie Friends, and A Woman's Place of Champaign.
HISTORY OF GRASSROOTS GROUP OF SECOND CLASS CITIZENS
Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens was founded in December 1981 to plan a series of direct actions in support of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois. Illinois was one of three states needed for ERA ratification before the June 30, 1982, deadline. During their "Day of Rebellion for ERA" on June 3rd, 150 supporters rallied at the capitol rotunda and 17 chained themselves to a railing; they occupied the capitol for four days; disrupted sessions of the legislature, held sit-ins at the offices of the Governor and Speaker of the House; and held a chain-in at the Governor's office door, for which members of GGSCC were found in contempt of court for violating an injunction barring the group from wearing chains in the Capitol. On June 25th when the ERA was voted down in the Illinois Senate, GGSCC members wrote the names of the Governor and anti-ERA legislators in blood on the marble floors in front of the legislative chambers. Blood was used to symbolize the death of ERA and the blood of women who suffer without legal equality. They were arrested and served four days in jail. The group continued to demonstrate for the rights of women and lesbians, and for peace and other causes until 1993.
HISTORY OF WOMEN RISING IN RESISTANCE
After the defeat of the ERA, members of the Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens joined other feminists to form Women Rising in Resistance, a network of affinity groups and individual activists who created direct action demonstrations for lesbian/feminist/womanist/pacifist/radical causes and issues. Actions taken under the organization's name include Halloween witch trials in which men and corporations were found guilty of crimes against women, children, and the poor; sit-ins at political campaign headquarters; protests for lesbian rights; and protests against pornography in which women in 50 cities destroyed, vomited on, and ripped up Penthouse and Hustler magazines in pornography outlets. In 1985 and 1986, Women Rising in Resistance organized Women Take Liberty in '86 in which approximately 300 women occupied the circular stairway inside the Statue of Liberty for an hour singing Naomi Littlebear's "You Can't Kill the Spirit." In defiance of the National Park Service's regulations, several affinity groups also draped banners on the pedestal of the Statue. Other activities included hourly encirclements of the Statue, passing a petition demanding that the United States government give the monument to women to compensate for failing to pass the ERA, and a rally at Liberty State Park.
The collection is arranged in three series:
- Series I. Records, 1982-2000 (#1.1-9CB.2m, FD.1, OD.1, Mem.1+, E.1)
- Series II. Photographs, 1982-1990 (#PD.1-PD.33)
- Series III. Audiovisual, 1982-2004 (#T-424.1-T-424.22, DVD-97.1-DVD.11, Vt-219.1-Vt-219.5, MP-89.1-MP-89.4)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 2004-M90, 2005-M77, 2006-M57, 2006-M131, 2013-M99
The papers of Mary Lee Sargent were given to the Schlesinger Library by Mary Lee Sargent between August 2004 and May 2013.
Processed: March 2021
By: Johanna Carll
The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit. Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- DVD-Video discs
- Demonstrations--United States
- Equal rights amendments--Illinois
- Equal rights amendments--United States
- Feminism--United States
- Illinois--Social conditions
- Lesbian activists--United States
- Sex discrimination against women--United States
- Web archives
- Women political activists--United States
- Women's rights--United States
- Women--Social networks
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- Processing of this collection was made possible by the Pforzheimer Fund for the Schlesinger Library, the Sybil Shainwald Fund at the Schlesinger Library, and the Jeannette Ward Fund.
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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