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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 495

Papers of Wilma Scott Heide, 1968-1985


Papers of Wilma Scott Heide, sociologist and chair and president of the National Organization for Women.


  • Creation: 1968-1985

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted with the exception of folder #12.1, which is closed until January 1, 2052.

As of November 2015, written permission of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to folders #5.1-22.20.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in papers created by Wilma Scott Heide 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.


10.22 linear feet ((24+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 2 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 2 photograph folders)

This collection contains correspondence, minutes, agendas, printed material, notes, clippings, and photographs relating to Heide's work as a feminist leader, with the bulk of the materials relating to her role as chair and later president of the National Organization for Women. The papers are arranged in thirteen series.

Series I, Personal, Biographical, and Professional (#1.1-2.3), contains correspondence, resumes, and clippings. They are arranged with resumes first, followed by clippings, personal correspondence, and correspondence relating to her professional activities.

Series II, Writings, Speeches, and Related (#2.4-4.17), is arranged in three subseries.

Subseries A, Writings and Speeches, contains texts of articles, papers, and speeches, filed mainly by the year in which they were written. When a writing or speech is listed by its title, it is filed at the end of the year in which it was written.

Subseries B, Correspondence, contains thank-you letters, and letters concerning local arrangements for Heide's appearances. They are arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Programs, contains brochures and agendas from events at which Heide spoke. They are arranged chronologically.

Series III, NOW Correspondence (#5.1-11.11), contains correspondence mainly related to Heide's role as chair and president of NOW, although it also documents Heide's involvement with various other feminist activities. Most of the correspondence was found loose and unorganized. It has been arranged chronologically.

Series IV, National NOW (#11.12-16.4), contains correspondence, memos, printed material, notes, etc. It is arranged in three subseries.

Subseries A, General Administrative, contains correspondence, memos, notes, and printed material relating to administrative issues during Heide's term as chair and president of NOW. Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Subseries B, Financial, contains correspondence, budgets, and notes relating to fundraising and budget issues. Much of the material in this subseries was created by Gene Boyer and Madeline Rast, NOW treasurers. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Conferences, contains correspondence, printed material, and notes relating to NOW's annual national conferences.

Series V, NOW Chapters and Chartering (#16.5-18.14), contains correspondence and completed chartering forms from various chapters. Completed chartering forms contain the name of the chapter, the year of incorporation, and the names of at least ten members. The correspondence relates to chartering issues as well as various internal troubles within individual chapters. There are also two folders of correspondence, notes, and printed material from the Pittsburgh chapter of which Heide was president prior to becoming the chair of national NOW in 1970. Materials are arranged with general chartering correspondence first, followed by files relating to various states arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, NOW and Compliance (#18.15-20.12) contains correspondence, notes, printed material, etc., relating to the NOW Task Force on Compliance and Enforcement. It includes correspondence, etc., with various companies and agencies NOW pressured to comply with rules regarding the hiring or membership rights of women, as well as with agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which NOW lobbied to create and enforce equal opportunities for women. Agencies and companies NOW found in violation of equal opportunity laws include AT&T, NASA, and the Jaycees. Materials are arranged with general compliance correspondence and NOW task force material first, followed by files relating to specific agencies or companies, arranged alphabetically by name.

Series VII, NOW and Women in Health Professions (#20.13-21.7), contains correspondence, notes, and printed material relating mostly to women in the nursing profession. Issues addressed in this series include the superior attitude evidenced by doctors toward nurses, dress codes for nurses, attempts to get more women to become doctors, and gaining acceptance of women doctors. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series VIII, NOW and Women and Religion (#21.8-22.1), contains correspondence, printed material, and writings not by Heide. This series addresses issues concerning female churchgoers as well as women wishing to hold positions in religious institutions. Of particular interest are three folders of correspondence and sermons (#21.12-22.1) from a women's liberation sermon contest Heide judged in 1971.

Series IX, Other NOW Task Forces and Related (#22.2-22.20), contains correspondence, notes, and printed material relating to general administrative details involved with arranging task forces as well as the activities of individual task forces. Particularly well represented is the International Task Force headed by Patricia Burnett, which helped educate women around the world about women's liberation. Materials are arranged with general materials first, followed by individual task forces arranged alphabetically.

Series X, NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (#23.1-23.8), contains correspondence, memos, and notes relating to administrative issues concerning the formation and early years of operation of NOW LDEF. It is arranged chronologically.

Series XI, Women's Coalition for the Third Century (#24.1-25.7), contains correspondence, press releases, notes, minutes, and printed material. The Women's Coalition for the Third Century was an organization formed in 1973 in response to a meeting of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission held in 1971. The coalition of 14 women's organizations was created to promote women's history, especially in relation to the Bicentennial, and to promote women as creators and leaders in all dimensions of American life. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Series XII, Other Organizations and Interests (#25.8-25.15), contains correspondence, notes, and printed material relating to organizations--other than NOW and the Women's Coalition for the Third Century--in which Heide was active.

Series XIII, Oversized Items and Photographs (#25.16f-PD2), contains letters, charts, and posters, most of which were removed from other folders in this collection. This series also contains Heide's B.A. and M.A. diplomas from the University of Pittsburgh as well as additional loose posters. The photographs in #PD1 were removed from various folders in the collection. The photographs in #PD2 consist of photographs from various events Heide attended, as well as a portrait of Heide.

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


Wilma Scott Heide, daughter of William Robert and Ada Catherine (Long) Scott, was a sociologist and chair and president of the National Organization for Women. She was born February 26, 1921, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She obtained her R.N. from Brooklyn State Hospital (1945), her B.A. in sociology (1950) and a Litt.M. (1955) from the University of Pittsburgh, and her Ph.D. in feminist theory and public policy from the Union of Experimenting Colleges and Universities (1978). She was married to Eugene E. Heide from 1951 to 1972; they had two children, Tamara and Terry.

Heide was a resident nurse at Chatham College (1948-1950), nursing instructor at the State University of New York, Oswego (1950-1951), teacher and director of nursing education at Pennsylvania State University (1957-1967), research assistant and project director for the American Institutes for Research (1967-1971), behavioral scientist and human resources and education consultant (1970-1985), and professor of women's studies and innovative and experimental studies and director of women's studies at Sangamon State University (1980-1982). She held visiting professorships at the University of Massachusetts (1974-1976), Wellesley College (1974-1975) and Goddard College (1978-1980). She was chair of the education committee of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Committee (1969-1971). From 1970 to 1971, Heide was the chair of NOW, and served as president of the organization from 1971 to 1974. In 1973, she helped form the Women's Coalition for the Third Century and served as the organization's vice president.

Heide died from a heart attack on May 8, 1985. Prior to her death, Heide interviewed by Frances (Arick) Kolb in preparation for a book on the history of the National Organization for Women. This interview was later included in the Tully-Crenshaw Feminist Oral History Project (see T-301), and is administered as part of that collection.


The collection is arranged in 13 series:

  1. Series I. Personal, Biographical, and Professional (#1.1-2.3)
  2. Series II. Writings, Speeches, and Related (#2.4-4.17)
  3. Series III. NOW Correspondence (#5.1-11.11)
  4. Series IV. National NOW (#11.12-16.4)
  5. Series V. NOW Chapters and Chartering (#16.5-18.14)
  6. Series VI. NOW and Compliance (#18.15-20.12)
  7. Series VII. NOW and Women in Health Professions (#20.13-21.7)
  8. Series VIII. NOW and Women and Religion (#21.8-22.1)
  9. Series IX. Other NOW Task Forces and Related (#22.2-22.20)
  10. Series X. NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (#23.1-23.8)
  11. Series XI. Women's Coalition for the Third Century (#24.1-25.7)
  12. Series XII. Other Organizations and Interests (#25.8-25.15)
  13. Series XIII. Oversized Items and Photographs (#25.16f-PD2)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 72-120, 74-32, 74-233, 80-M168, 80-M233, 82-M10, 82-M98, 83-M133, 84-M155, 86-M54, 86-M66

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Wilma Scott Heide between 1972 and 1984. Additional papers were donated by Boston National Organization for Women in 1983 and by her daughters, Tamara Heide and Terry Heide, in 1986.

Processing Information

Processed: February 2003

By: Johanna Carll

Heide, Wilma Scott, 1921-1985. Papers of Wilma Scott Heide, 1968-1985: 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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