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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 172: T-19

Records of the Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard, 1969-1971


Correspondence, memos, notes, etc., of the Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard, created in 1970 to study the status of Harvard’s women students and faculty members.


  • Creation: 1969-1971

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is required for access to audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard as well as 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.


2.5 linear feet ((6 file boxes) plus 5 audiotapes)

This collection contains those papers of Dr. Caroline Walker Bynum (assistant professor of history at Harvard University) which pertain to her work on the Women's Faculty Group, the Committee on the Harvard-Radcliffe Relationship, and the Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard.


The Women's Faculty Group, an unofficial body, was organized in December 1969 to consider the status of women at the University, especially in relation to the question of the merger of Harvard and Radcliffe. Professor Bynum and Professor Janet M. Martin of the Classics Department took leading roles in the Group. Five members, meeting with John T. Dunlop, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, on January 23, 1970, asked that an official committee be appointed to study the status of women at Harvard; the Dean suggested the Group write a memo demonstrating that the status of women at the University was indeed a problem. This memo was sent to the Dean on March 11, 1970, and released in April as the Preliminary Report on the Status of Women at Harvard. Dr. Bynum's papers include agendas and minutes of Women's Faculty Group meetings, memos and correspondence, clippings, some papers of the Graduate Women's Subcommittee of the Women's Faculty Group, and draft and final versions of the Memo or Preliminary Report.

On February 10, 1970, the Faculty voted to establish the Committee on the Harvard-Radcliffe Relationship (informally known as the Merger Committee). Dr. Bynum was appointed to the Committee (chaired by Dean Ernest R. May) later in February. There was also a Radcliffe trustees' committee on merger and a president's committee; their reports are included in the collection, as are some of the minutes of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Study Committee on Merger. The letter to Professor Jerome Kagan of Mrs. Wickham Skinner, chairman of the last-named group, describing its proposal, "Radcliffe College in Harvard University," together with correspondence about it, is included with the papers of the Graduate Women's Subcommittee of the Women's Faculty Group.

The Faculty Council agreed to establish the Committee on the Status of Women (COSW) on April 22, 1970, in accordance with the suggestion of the Women's Faculty Group. Professor Bynum and Professor Michael L. Walzer were named co-chairmen; the other members were Professors Morton W. Bloomfield, Dudley R. Herschbach, Lynn M. Riddiford, and Emily T. Vermeule. Working with these faculty members was a Graduate Student Consulting Committee: Lucy S. McDiarmid, Ann N. Michelini, Vicki L. Sato, Maria F. Tymoczko, and Shirley Weitz. The COSWobtained its information by means of open hearings (October and November 1970), tape recordings of which are filed in the Schlesinger Library as T-19; letters to department chairmen (November 23, 1970); one questionnaire addressed to all current female and one-third of all current male graduate students; another questionnaire addressed to graduate students who entered Harvard or Radcliffe in 1950, 1957, or 1964; interviews with female faculty and several deans; as well as unsolicited letters from members of the Harvard community and reports from other universities. The resulting Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was published in April 1971; its major recommendations were (1) more women on the Faculty; (2) a Permanent Committee on Women; (3) part-time professorships, and (4) part-time graduate study. Motions on these recommendations were made by Professors Bynum and Walzer at the Faculty meeting of May 25, 1971.

Concurrently, the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) had filed complaints with the U.S. Departments of Labor and of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) against Harvard and other universities, who, as federal contractors, were forbidden by executive order to discriminate against women in admissions and employment. Correspondence, newsclippings and memos which describe the actions of WEAL, NOW and HEW are included with Dr. Bynum's papers. The miscellaneous papers at the end of the collection also include newsletters, etc. from the professional associations to which Dr. Bynum belonged, materials from Dunster House, with which she was associated, various undated notes in her handwriting, and newsclippings and other published materials.

The Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard Collection covers the period from July 1969 to June 1971.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 71-140, 72-97

The papers of the Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in October 1971 by Dr. Caroline Bynum.


  1. Box 1: Folders 1-7
  2. Box 2: Folders 8-21, Volumes 1 and 2
  3. Box 3: Folders 22-38
  4. Box 4: Folders 38-51
  5. Box 5: Folders 52-61
  6. Box 6: Folders 62-67

Processing Information

Processed: December 1971

Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard. Records on the Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard, 1969-1971: 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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