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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 481

Papers of Frances Arick Kolb, 1955-1990 (inclusive), 1972-1990 (bulk)


Papers of Frances Arick Kolb, educational consultant, historian, and Eastern Regional Director and board member of the National Organization for Women.


  • 1955-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1972-1990

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted.

As of November 2015, written permission of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in papers created by Frances Arick Kolb while an officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is held by NOW. Copyright in other papers in the collection were transferred by Alfred Kolb to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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.


8.13 linear feet ((19+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 supersize folder, 1 photograph folder)

This collection contains correspondence, clippings, research notes, printed material, audiocassettes, and writings by Kolb, focusing mainly on her work in NOW and her research documenting the history of NOW. The records are arranged in seven series:

Series I, Personal and Biographical (#1.1-1.8), contains a resume, clippings, correspondence, and school transcripts. The records are arranged chronologically.

Series II, Articles and Speeches by Kolb (#1.9-2.4), contains correspondence, drafts, and copies of articles and speeches by Kolb. Subjects include NOW, women and psychoanalysis, Betty Friedan, Wilma Scott Heide, and Gloria Steinem.

Series III, "The National Organization for Women: From the Feminine Mystique to the National Movement, 1960-1974" (#2.5-10.24), contains research notes, drafts of text, and notes on interviews conducted by Kolb with early NOW members for her unfinished book on NOW's history. The book, started in the late 1970s, was never completed, but there is at least a partial draft of every chapter. The series is divided into four subseries.

Subseries A, Correspondence (#2.5), contains correspondence relating to the grant under which the book was started.

Subseries B, Drafts (#2.6-6.5), contains various drafts of the book. Some of the drafts in the collection are hard copies made from disks by the Schlesinger Library staff, a process explained in the memo found in #2.6. The drafts are arranged with chapters from the same draft first followed by individual drafts in order of chapter number. There is no order within the chapters, since it is impossible to determine when the drafts were done.

Subseries C, Oral Histories (#6.6-6.13), contains detailed notes and interviewee lists from the oral histories Kolb conducted with early NOW members. There is also correspondence with the interviewees concerning the amount and importance of information they might impart. Audiocassettes of the oral histories conducted by Kolb are available to researchers as T-312. A list of those interviewed can be found in #6.9.

Subseries D, Research Notes (#6.14-10.24), contains handwritten notes arranged by topic in alphabetical order. Most of the research notes concern papers of other NOW members as well as NOW's organizational records found at the Schlesinger Library.

Series IV, NOW-Related (#11.1-16.14), contains correspondence, notes, printed material, clippings, etc., concerning Kolb's role as Eastern Regional Director, national board member, and as a chapter member. A small number of files were created by Jacqueline Ceballos, who was Eastern Regional Director before Kolb. The series is divided into seven subseries.

Subseries A, NOW General Correspondence (#11.1-11.4), contains correspondence concerning both Eastern Regional and national board issues. Correspondence found here is similar to that found in subseries B and C. The correspondence has been maintained in the order in which Kolb kept it. Records are arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Eastern Region (#11.5-13.11), contains correspondence, printed material, clippings, etc., concerning Kolb's role as Eastern Regional Director as well as her later involvement with NOW New Jersey and Massachusetts NOW Materials are arranged chronologically, with individual chapter folders located at the end of the subseries.

Subseries C, NOW National Board (#13.12-14.3), contains correspondence and printed material concerning Kolb's term as a member of the board. Records are arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Equal Rights Amendment (#14.4-15.7), contains correspondence, financial records, printed material, etc., concerning the ERA Freedom Train and the NOW Economic Boycott, in both of which Kolb held leadership roles. The NOW Economic Boycott records also include lists of supporters of the boycott, who encouraged organizations to refuse to hold conferences in states that had not ratified the ERA. Records are arranged chronologically.

Subseries E, Archives (15.8-16.2), contains correspondence and completed records surveys from NOW officers and NOW chapters. These records concern the establishment of the Schlesinger Library as NOW's records repository as well as determining what types of records were held by whom. Records are arranged chronologically.

Subseries F, Internal Politics (#16.3-16.9), contains correspondence, printed material, clippings, and completed surveys concerning internal disagreements in NOW. Included are records of the Majority Caucus, a group that successfully assumed leadership of NOW at the 1975 national conference. There also surveys sent by Kolb polling NOW members about their opinions concerning a proposed by-law change extending office terms for NOW officers. Records are arranged chronologically.

Subseries G, Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project (#16.10-16.14), contains correspondence and printed materials relating to the Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project, which was initiated and funded in 1990 by Mary Jean Tully in honor of her mother, Maude Gresham Crenshaw, in conjunction with the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. Records relate to Kolb's interviews with Alice Rossi and Wilma Scott Heide, as well as her role on the advisory committee. Records are arranged chronologically.

Series V, Kolb Workshops on United States Women's History (#16.15-18.6), contains correspondence, notes, and printed material from workshops run by Kolb. Most of these workshops were arranged through her work with The Network, a nonprofit research and training organization in Andover, Massachusetts. Kolb's workshops focused on using primary source material to teach high school students about the role of women throughout history. Records are arranged chronologically. However, when workshops were held annually, as was the National Endowment for the Humanities/Harvard Graduate School of Education workshop, materials are arranged chronologically by the date of the first workshop.

Series VI, Other Women's Organizations and Interest (#18.7-18.11), contains correspondence, notes, and printed material, concerning Kolb's activities within the women's movement, excluding NOW and her workshops. Of particular interest is her folder concerning Jewish women.

Series VII, Memorabilia, (#19.1-19.8+), contains feminist buttons, scarves, and necklaces.

Folder headings are those of Kolb unless otherwise noted; archivist's headings and notes are in square brackets. All printed material by or about Kolb, as well as all printed material with annotations, has been kept in the collection. Other NOW publications and reports, except those created by Kolb, 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.


Frances (Arick) Kolb, an educational consultant and historian, was born in 1937 in Worcester, Massachusetts. She attended Brandeis University from 1954 to 1956 before receiving her B.A. in history and secondary education from Washington University (1958), her master's degree in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania (1959), and her Ph.D. in history from Washington University (1972). She was married to and divorced from Zivon Cohen. She later married Alfred Kolb; they had a daughter, Sharon.

Kolb was an instructor in continuing education at Pennsylvania State University (1971-1973), an instructor in American history at the University of Pittsburgh (1973), assistant professor in the department of history at Montclair (New Jersey) State College (1973-1975), adjunct instructor in women's studies at City College, City University of New York (1974-1795), curriculum coordinator for the Training Institute for Sex Desegregation at Douglass College of Rutgers University (1975-1979), a training specialist for Project Inter-Action (1980-1981), and assistant director of The Network in Andover, Massachusetts (1982-?). In addition, Kolb was a member of the Panel on Teaching Women's History at the American Historical Association's national conference (1975), chair of the Panel on Funding Women's Studies for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians meeting at Bryn Mawr (June 1975), served on the planning committee of the Bicentennial Celebration on Women at Douglass College (March-April 1976), was a consultant and trainer for the Educational Improvement Center South of the New Jersey Department of Education (June-July 1978), and consultant and trainer for the New England Educational Equity Center (1979-1980).

Her positions within the National Organization for Women included founding member and member of the Board of Directors of the South Hills NOW Day Nursery School (1972-1973), Eastern Regional Director (1973-1975), and National Board member (1975-1977), where she served as NOW archivist. She was also on the Rules Committee of the 1975 and 1976 national conferences, was a member of the Budget Committee of the National Board, Finance Coordinator of the NOW Freedom Train (1976), chair of the NOW Arrangements Committee for the International Women's Year Conference (1977), and chair of the Economic Sanctions Committee of the ERA Strike Force (1977-1979).

Kolb died of breast cancer January 12, 1991.


The collection is arranged in seven series:

  1. Series I. Personal and Biographical (#1.1-1.8)
  2. Series II. Articles and Speeches by Kolb (#1.9-2.4)
  3. Series III. "The National Organization for Women: From the Feminine Mystique to the National Movement, 1960-1974" (#2.5-10.24)
  4. ___Subseries A. Correspondence (#2.5)
  5. ___Subseries B. Drafts (#2.6-6.5)
  6. ___Subseries C. Oral Histories (#6.6-6.13)
  7. ___Subseries D. Research Notes (#6.14-10.24)
  8. Series IV. NOW-Related (#11.1-16.14)
  9. ___Subseries A. NOW General Correspondence (#11.1-11.4)
  10. ___Subseries B. Eastern Region (#11.5-13.11)
  11. ___Subseries C. NOW National Board (#13.12-14.3)
  12. ___Subseries D. Equal Rights Amendment (#14.4-15.7)
  13. ___Subseries E. Archives (15.8-16.2)
  14. ___Subseries F. Internal Politics (#16.3-16.9)
  15. ___Subseries G. Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project (#16.10-16.14)
  16. Series V. Kolb Workshops on United States Women's History (#16.15-18.6)
  17. Series VI. Other Women's Organizations and Interest (#18.7-18.11)
  18. Series VII. Memorabilia, (#19.1-19.8+)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 89-M57, 91-M96, 91-M175, 95-M158

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Frances Arick Kolb in March 1989. Additional papers were donated by Alfred Kolb in June and October 1991 and in November 1995.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Audiotape collection of Frances Arick Kolb, 1970-1981 (T-312).

Processing Information

Processed: December 2002

By: Johanna Carll

Kolb, Frances Arick. Papers of Frances Arick Kolb, 1955-1990 (inclusive), 1972-1990 (bulk): 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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