Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: SC 147: R-32

Records of the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard, 1975-2014


Project files, clippings, minutes, photographs, and correspondence of a committee of Radcliffe alumnae dedicated to ending sex discrimination at Harvard.


  • 1975-2014


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 is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Radcliffe Archives. 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.


7.09 linear feet ((17 file boxes) plus 3 photograph folders and 10 CDs)

The Records of the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard document the advocacy of members of the Radcliffe classes of 1953 and 1958 for improvement in the status of women at Harvard. Reports chart their findings and recommendations, while clippings attest to the breadth of media coverage, including articles in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Correspondence illustrates their quest for dialogue with the Harvard administration, and the support received from alumni and friends. Minutes, 1990-2013, and e-mail, 1999-2013, give details of both strategy and on-going projects. Also included are brochures, advertisements, programs, photographs of panel discussions. In addition, there is correspondence, a proposal, and reports relating to the conference, "Women in Research Universities: the Next Quarter Century" (1998), and its proceedings, Equal Rites, Unequal Outcomes (2003) edited by Lilli S. Hornig.

Additional material received in 2009 and 2015 (accession numbers 2009-M103 and 2015-M23) was added to the collection in September 2015. These materials are housed in Series III. The material contains records related to committee's history and programs, as well as correspondence and printed e-mail. Most records are from 2002 and later, but there is some overlap with the original accession, particularly in correspondence and e-mail files.

Series I, PROGRAMS, 1975-2003 (#1.1-3.6), consists of goals, yearly reports on gender disparity, programs for panels, photographs, conference files and CDs, petitions, and results of faculty survey. Also included are clippings, brochures, advertisements, and minutes, 1990-2002.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1988-2002 (#3.7-5.9), of Margaretta (Peggy) Schmertzler, Alice (Acey) Carbonaro Welch, Ann R. Shapiro et al. with Harvard and Radcliffe administration, faculty, alumni, and other friends. Also included are statements of nominees for Harvard's Board of Overseers on the status of women, and e-mail among committee members planning strategy and coordinating future action.

Series III, ADDENDA, 1980-2014 (#6.1-17.5, PD.1-PD.3, Mem.1), includes material documenting the committee's history (timelines, brochures, and clippings, etc.), reports, financial records, meeting minutes, correspondence, and e-mail. It also includes memorabilia and photographs. It is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Programs, 1980-2014 (#6.1-6.27, PD.1-PD.3, Mem.1), contains material documenting the activities of the committee, such public events, projects, and committee meetings. It contains brochures, historical timelines, financial information, by-laws, and clippings. It also includes meeting minutes, records related to events, articles written by members, publications and reports, and proposals for the Pre-Tenure Ladder Faculty Mentoring Initiative and the Alumnae-i Network for Harvard Women. This series also contains a banner and photographs from events. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1994-2013 (#7.1-17.5), contains correspondence, including letters sent to Harvard administrators and statements of nominees for Harvard's Board of Overseers on the status of women. There is also e-mail with Harvard faculty and administrators and among members, particularly Acey Carbonaro Welch, Gabriella P. Schlesinger, Nancy Tobin, Elizabeth Hatfield, Peggy Schmertzler, Ann R. Shapiro, Eleanor W. Williams, Lilli Hornig, and Jane O'Reilly. E-mail among members relates to project planning, coordination of meetings, and reaction to events taking place at the Radcliffe Institute and Harvard, particularly the comments about women made by President Summers in 2005 and the selection of Drew Faust at the next president. Other themes include the creation and ongoing activities of the Harvard College Women's Center, the committee's support for the Radcliffe Alumnae Professorship and Fellowship, and the establishment of a mentoring program with the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity. The subseries is arranged with correspondence followed by printed e-mail, and chronologically therein.


Meeting at their respective reunions, alumnae of the Radcliffe Classes of 1953 and 1958 recalled the discrimination they experienced as students and resolved to advance women's equality at Harvard. First, members of the Radcliffe Class of 1953 formed an Ad Hoc Committee to analyze the status of women at Harvard (1988) and in 1993, joined by members of the Class of 1958, they incorporated as the Committee for Equality of Women at Harvard (CEWH), with the goals of increasing the number of women tenured faculty and working for equity of all women at the university. Included among the board members were Gabriella P. Schlesinger '58, Alice (Acey) Carbonaro Welch '53 , Elizabeth Hatfield '58, Cornelia Dimmitt '58, Margaretta (Peggy) B. Schmertzler '53, Ann R. Shapiro '58, Eleanor W. Williams '58, Sunny Yando, Jane Marx '41, Nancy Tobin '49, Lilli Hornig, Ph.D '50, Millie Marnin '58, Jane O'Reilly '58, Deborah Socolar '75, and Phoebe Telser '58. Peggy Schmertzler served as chair from 1993-1998, and in 1998, Acey Welch '53 and Ann Shapiro '58 became co-chairs. Gabriella Schlesinger '58 took over for Shapiro as co-chair in 2002. Their organization came to have 2000 Harvard and Radcliffe alumni friends and supporters.

The Committee members issued annual reports charting the status of women at Harvard and other major research universities and publishing comparative data on numbers of senior women faculty, salary levels of women, supply of women PhDs, and proportion of Harvard women undergraduates. They entered into dialogue with the administration, and lobbied women faculty, nominees for the Harvard Board of Overseers, Harvard and Radcliffe undergraduates, and alumni, and succeeded in gaining broad media coverage for their findings. They instituted the Harvard Woman Junior Fellowship at the Bunting Institute (1993) to help advance the careers of women junior faculty and established an escrow account, the Harvard Women's Faculty Fund (1995), as a means for donors to protest gender inequity while giving to the Harvard campaign.

They sponsored several student/faculty panels, developed a newsletter, brochures, and publicity material. In 1998 they convened the first national conference that addressed the issues of institutional change required for the full integration of women scholars and students into major research universities. It was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, with additional support from Albert Gordon '59. In 1999 and 2000 they petitioned for, but failed to obtain, a self-study similar to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's study of gender inequity in the sciences, and in 2001 they sponsored their own survey of women faculty at Harvard University.

In June 2000 they released the money in their escrow account to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (the successor to Radcliffe College) and, with Ellen LaFollette '54 who had raised money from alumnae groups in California, launched a campaign for a joint professorship at the Radcliffe Institute and Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Committee member Ann Shapiro '58 and Ellen LaFollette '54 co-chaired the effort, with Mary Maples Dunn and Carol K. Pforzheimer '31 serving as honorary co-chairs. With a matching grant from Harvard, and the assistance of the Radcliffe Institute development office, they endowed the professorship (2002) and helped endow a new junior faculty fellowship.

The appointment of Drew Gilpin Faust as Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2001) and installation of a new administration at Harvard (2002) led to more cordial relations with both administrations. During the administration of Harvard President Lawrence Summers, the Committee supported changes in sexual assault policy (2002) and advocated for the incorporation of women's studies into the curriculum (2003). The Committee continued to advocate for a self-study and, in 2004, protested the decrease in offers of tenure to women. In 2005, President Summers made controversial comments regarding the reasons why few women possessed tenured positions in science and engineering. Later that year, the Committee supported a panel on "Women and Tenure at Harvard" and responded to the reports of the Harvard's Task Forces on Women Faculty and on Women in Science and Engineering. In 2006, they applauded the establishment of the Harvard Women's Center with Susan Marine as its first director.

In 2007, Drew Gilpin Faust was inaugurated as President of Harvard University, and in 2008 Evelynn Hammonds was named dean of Harvard College. Also in 2008, the Radcliffe Institute announced that the Radcliffe Alumnae Fellowship was fully endowed, and the Committee gave $75,000 to establish the Pre-Tenure Ladder Faculty Mentoring Initiative with the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity. Buoyed by these appointments and accomplishments, the 2008 Committee newsletter explained that the committee would now be "stepping to the sidelines and mindfully watching. Make no mistake: we are not shuttering our operations. We intend to remain abreast of women's issues and to react if circumstances warrant." The group continued to meet and respond to developments at Harvard, such as monitoring the fulfillment of the Radcliffe Alumnae Professorship and Fellowship, writing letters to advocate for a continued focus on women and gender at the Radcliffe Institute, particularly in relation to the Institute's search for a new dean, and supporting the Harvard College Women's Center. In planning for the dissolution of the Committee, members applied to the Harvard Alumni Association to form a new Shared Interest Group. In 2013 the Alumnae-i Network for Harvard Women was formed to advance the interests of Harvard women. The Committee formally dissolved in 2014 and donated its remaining funds to the Harvard College Women's Center.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Programs, 1975-2003 (#1.1-3.6)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1988-2002 (#3.7-5.9)
  3. Series III. Addenda, 1980-2014 (#6.1-17.5, PD.1-PD.3, Mem.1)
  4. ___Subseries A. Programs, 1980-2014 (#6.1-6.27, PD.1-PD.3, Mem.1)
  5. ___Subseries B. Correspondence, 1994-2013 (#7.1-17.5)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: R2003-7. Accession numbers: 2009-M103 and 2015-M23 were added in January 2016.

The records of the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard were given to the Radcliffe Archives by Alice (Acey) Carbonaro Welch, co-chair, between 2003 and 2015.


Donors: Alice (Acey) Carbonaro Welch

Accession number: 2009-M103 and 2015-M23

Processed by: Paula Aloisio

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection (pending review by curator):

  1. Benhabib, Seyla. Interim Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, 1994-1996. June 1996.
  2. Harvard College Women's Center. Annual Report. 2008-2013.
  3. The Joint Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Harvard School of Public Health. Annual Report. 1974-1975.
  4. Standing Committee on the Status of Women. Report on the Child care Experiences and Needs of Junior Faculty. ca.1997
  5. Student Taskforce of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health. Obstacles to Equal Education at Harvard Resulting from Sex Discrimination. July 1974, Revised October 1974.
  6. Women's Caucus, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The 1992-1993 Report on the Status of Women at the Kennedy School of Government. Cambridge, MA: John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June 4, 1993.

Processing Information

Processed: July 2004

By: Jane S. Knowles

Updated: January 2016

By: Paula Aloisio with assistance from Dan Bullman.

Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard. Records of the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard, 1975-2014: A Finding Aid
Radcliffe College Archives, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
The collection was processed with help from the donors and the Radcliffe College Class of 1957.

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.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA