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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 499: T-157

Papers of NOW officer Dolores Alexander, 1960-1973


Papers of National Organization for Women executive director Dolores Alexander.


  • Creation: 1960-1973


Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted except that folders #5.14-6.1, and 6.13 are closed until January 1, 2054 and folders #8.14 and 8.43 are closed until January 1, 2040 as per the legal agreement between NOW and the Schlesinger Library. Folders #7.14-7.15 are closed until January 1, 2054, following the restrictions on New York NOW chapter records at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives at the University at Albany, SUNY. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

As of November 2015, written permission of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is no longer required for access to folders #1.6-7.10, 8.5-10.17, OD.1-OD.2, PD.1-PD.9.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in papers created by Dolores Alexander while executive director 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.


4.17 linear feet ((10 file boxes) plus 2 folio plus folders, 2 oversize folders, 9 photograph folders, 6 audiotapes)

This collection contains mostly correspondence. There is also printed material, reports, clippings, press releases, minutes, and notes by Alexander and members of NOW, including board members. Titles and information in square brackets [ ] have been supplied by the processor. Whenever possible, original folder titles and spellings have been retained. The records are organized into two series.

Series I, Biographical and personal (1.1-1.5, F+D.1-F+D.2), contains biographical material, correspondence, notes, and clippings related to Alexander's speaking engagements after leaving her position as executive director of NOW.

Series II, National Organization for Women (1.6-10.17, OD.1-OD.2, PD.1-PD.9), contains correspondence, memos, minutes, committee reports, clippings, board reports, fundraising material, and press releases related to NOW's board, national meetings, general membership, chapters, task forces, committees, and NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. There are 12 folders of material specific to New York NOW. Correspondence with NOW members, political activists, public officials and other individuals, as well as research files cover a range of topics including abortion, campaign literature, sex discrimination in education, the Valerie Solanas case, breastfeeding, Native American women, rape, equal rights for women, and poverty, in the form of pamphlets, fliers, brochures, correspondence, clippings, reports, and newsletters. Also included are audiotapes from a NOW conference, Priorities for Action, held in New York, December 7-8 (year unknown), and an appearance by Betty Friedan on CBS radio, 1970. There is no material related to the resignation of Alexander from NOW. Photographs of Dolores Alexander, NOW actions, and NOW board members are also included in the collection.


Dolores Alexander, freelance writer, reporter, and first executive director of the National Organization for Women (NOW), received her B.A. in Language and Literature from the City College of New York in 1961. During her senior year of college she was chosen by The New York Times to work for 10 months as a paid "stringer" or "cub reporter" to gain experience in journalism. After graduation, she worked from 1961 to 1964 as a reporter, copy editor, and bureau chief for Newark Evening News. Alexander then moved to Newsday, where she worked as a reporter, copy editor, and assistant women's editor, and was feature writer for Newsday's weekend magazine from 1964 to 1969.

Alexander became active in NOW in 1966 after coming across a press release announcing the creation of a new women's rights organization. With her background in media, she chaired the Monitor Subcommittee of the National Task Force on Image of Women in Mass Media. In 1969, Alexander became the first executive director of the National Organization for Women (NOW). As executive director, she established a national office for NOW in New York City, expanded NOW's membership base nationally, and edited NOW Acts, NOW's national newsletter. Resigning in May 1970, Alexander continued to lecture on women's rights, and worked with the New Feminist Talent Collective, a speaker agency formed by Jacqui Michot Ceballos in response to the demand for speakers on the women's movement. In addition, she opened and ran Mother Courage, a feminist restaurant in Greenwich Village. She was one of the founders and organizers of Women Against Pornography and worked with New York Radical Feminists. Alexander was also a board member of the National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL); member of the advisory board of New York chapter of NOW; and member of New York Newspaper Women's Club.

She continued to be active in women's causes, including the North Fork Women for Women Fund, a nonprofit group that raised money for women facing health-care emergencies, and the Herstory Writer's Workshop, a community writing project for women interested in writing memoirs.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal (1.1-1.5, F+D.1-F+D.2)
  2. Series II. National Organization for Women (1.6-10.17, OD.1-OD.2, PD.1-PD.9)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 82-M88

These papers were given to the Schlesinger Library by Dolores Alexander in 1982.


Donors: Dolores Alexander

Accession number: 82-M88

Processed by: Deborah A. Richards

The following items have been removed from the collection:

  1. NOW minutes, NOW conference programs, NOW correspondence, NOW reports, NOW membership lists, NOW new member applications, NOW chapter newsletters. Transferred to the National Organization for Women Records (MC 496), July 2004.
  2. Newspapers: NYRL Newspaper, It's Ain't Me Babe,Manhattan Tribune: New York Tribune,Womankind, Off Our Backs. Transferred to Book Department, Schlesinger Library, July 2004.
  3. The Communist Attack on U.S. Police by W. Cleon Skousen. Ensign Publishing Company, 1966. Transferred to Widener Library, Harvard University, July 2004.
  4. Road to Revolution: Communist Guerrilla Warfare in the U.S.A. by Phillip Abbott Lucy. Viewpoint Books, 1967. Transferred to Widener Library, Harvard University, July 2004.

Processing Information

Processed: August 2004

By: Deborah A. Richards

Dolores Alexander. Papers of NOW officer Dolores Alexander, 1960-1973: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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