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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 480

Papers of NOW officer Elizabeth Farians, 1965-1973


Papers of National Organization for Women officer Elizabeth Farians, coordinator of NOW's Ecumenical Task Force on Women and Religion.


  • Creation: 1965-1973

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted.

As of November 2015, written permission from the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to folders #1.5-2.2.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in papers created by Elizabeth Farians while an officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is held by NOW. 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.


1.04 linear feet ((2+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder)

This collection includes correspondence, reports, printed material, and writings by Farians. Most of the records concern Farians' involvement in NOW, especially as a member of the Task Force on Women and Religion, which was concerned about the image of women in religious teachings and which opposed discrimination against women at all levels and in all areas of church life and practice. Task force records include correspondence concerning the establishment and publicizing of the task force, task force reports, member lists, and clippings. There are records about the role of women in the Catholic Church, especially those of the Joint Commission of Organizations Concerned with the Status of Women in the Church. These records include correspondence (largely with and concerning Archbishop Joseph Bernardin), meeting attendance lists, and reports. The main focus of the organization was to attempt to arrange a meeting between women's rights representatives and bishops to discuss the status of women in the American Roman Catholic Church, a meeting that was held in 1971. Other records document the Equal Rights Amendment, and court cases concerned with obtaining equal treatment for women. The materials are arranged with Farians' personal papers first, followed by her activities, in chronological order.

Folder headings are those of Farians unless otherwise noted; archivist's headings and notes are in square brackets. All printed material by or about Farians, as well as all printed material with annotations, has been kept in the collection. Other NOW publications and reports, except those created by Farians, were transferred to the NOW records in the Schlesinger Library. Non-NOW printed material produced by mainstream organizations and publications was discarded; leaflets and other ephemera of small, transient organizations were retained.


Elizabeth Farians, educator, theologian, and founder of the National Organization for Women's Ecumenical Task Force on Women and Religion, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1923. The daughter of Charles Herbert and Hilda Elizabeth (Born) Farians, she received her B.S. (1943) and her master's degree in education (1952) from the University of Cincinnati. After several years as a physical education teacher, Farians enrolled in the graduate program in Theology for Women at Saint Mary's College-Notre Dame in Indiana, receiving her Ph.D. in 1958.

Farians taught Thomistic philosophy at the University of Dayton (Ohio), 1962-1964, with the understanding that she would eventually teach theology. She was fired when she reminded the administration of their promise. She then taught theology at Sacred Heart University in Bridgetown, Connecticut (1964-1967), but was fired by that institution as well, this time for inviting a young Vietnam War protestor who had burned his draft card to speak to her students. Next, she taught at Loyola University in Chicago (1968-1970), where her dismissal was due to her highly visible role as a feminist critic of the Catholic Church. She then served as director of the Women's Institute of the Boston Theological Institute (1971-1972), and in 1972, became a consultant for Women's Affairs and Social Concerns in Cincinnati.

Farians' political and social activities have covered a wide range of subjects. She has actively supported racial integration programs, efforts on behalf of animal rights and the abolition of the death penalty, and women's rights. She was a member of the national board of NOW from 1967-1972. A founder of NOW's Ecumenical Task Force on Women and Religion in 1966, she served as the task force chairman from 1966 to 1972. She was also a convener of NOW chapters in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Cincinnati. She was on the board of directors of Catholics for a Free Choice (1972-1975), and founder of the Joint Committee of Organizations Concerned with the Status of Women in the Church (1970).

Farians is the author and editor of several publications, including The Prophecy: A New Revolution (1973), The Double Cross: Writings on Women and Religion (1973), Selected Bibliography on Women and Religion 1964-1973 (1973), A Program of Women's Studies for Colleges and Universities (1971), and NOW Papers on Women and Religion (1970).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 72-25, 72-30, 72-42, 72-54, 72-82, 73-36, 73-48

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Elizabeth Farians between March 1972 and April 1973.

Processing Information

Processed: October 2002

By: Johanna Carll

Farians, Elizabeth. Papers of NOW officer Elizabeth Farians, 1965-1973: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
These papers were processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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