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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 589

Papers of Ariel Dougherty, 1946-1993


Papers of Ariel Dougherty, filmmaker, arts administrator, and co-founder of Women Make Movies.


  • Creation: 1946-1993


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Folders #3.4v-4.3v are closed until Dougherty's death. Folder #15.2 is closed until January 1, 2040.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the films created by Ariel Dougherty is held by Ariel Dougherty during her lifetime, and will revert to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library upon her death. Copyright in the unpublished papers created by Ariel Dougherty is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library.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.


12.01 linear feet ((22 file boxes, 1 card box, 1 folio box, 1 folio+ box) plus 5 folio folders, 7 folio+ folders, 4 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 25 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 2 objects.)

The papers of Ariel Dougherty contain correspondence; diaries; scripts, photographs, contracts, and other material related to her filmmaking; organizational records of Women Make Movies; files relating to artists' organizations and women artists' organizations; and artwork. Original folder headings were maintained; headings in brackets were assigned by the processor. Audiovisual material received with the collection was removed and cataloged separately; see Ariel Dougherty Audiovisual collection, 1952-1992 (Vt-146, MP-48, Phon-41, DVD-9, or T-349).

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1946-1993 (#1.1-8.2, 24FB.1v, FD.4, 25F+B.1v), includes personal documents, diaries, calendars, school grades and papers, and scrapbooks. The series is arranged in four subseries.

Subseries A, Biographical and miscellaneous, 1946-1992 (#1.1-1.21, 24FB.1v, 25F+B.1v), includes personal documents, financial records, resumes, and scrapbooks compiled by Dougherty in her childhood. It also contains a variety of material that was grouped together under the heading "Ariel archives": some of this material is related to each other, some not. Folder headings give examples of the kinds of material found in each of these folders or packets. One folder contains notes and publicity for a series of Healing Arts Workshops given by Dougherty and Clement through the auspices of the Catskill People's Food Cooperative. Several folders contain background material and writings on ecofeminism. The series is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Education, 1958-1985 (#2.1-3.3), includes grades, diplomas, and papers and short stories written by Dougherty in middle and high school. Dougherty was involved in a student group, High School Students for Better Education, which lobbied the United States Congress for more money for teacher salaries, textbooks, and school repairs in Washington, D.C., public schools, from 1962 to 1964. Material from her time with that group is included here: meeting notes, transcripts of testimonies, surveys, clippings. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Diaries, 1964-1992 (#3.4v-4.3v), contains diaries kept sporadically by Dougherty. The earliest diary discusses her time living in Indonesia, as well as her first years at Sarah Lawrence College. The second diary discusses specific political events of 1968 and 1969, as well as her feelings about Students for a Democratic Society, Weathermen, and women's liberation. All the diaries discuss quotidian concerns, family and personal relationship issues, and dreams; notable events and issues are in the folder headings. Most contain paintings and drawings interspersed with text. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Calendars, etc., 1965-1993 (#4.4-8.2, FD.4), contains daily calendars, wall calendars, appointment books, address books, and a few notebooks. Some notebooks were titled by Dougherty: these titles appear in quotation marks. The subseries is arranged by type, and chronologically thereunder.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1957-1993 (#8.3-11.10), contains Dougherty's personal and some professional correspondence. Letters from the early 1960s are from family and school friends, many written by Dougherty to her mother and stepfather while she was traveling. Dougherty had a Soviet pen pal from 1961 to 1963; several letters are in Russian. Numerous letters from a friend, Nat Stillman, discuss his life at Exeter and, later, at Harvard University, as well as national politics. General topics discussed in 1960s letters include national and foreign politics, foreign travel, life at Sarah Lawrence and other colleges (Harvard, Oberlin), Dougherty's artistic interests, etc. Folders of correspondence from the 1970s and later hold a mixture of personal and professional correspondence. Letters dating from the 1970s discuss Women Make Movies, other film cooperatives, and other film issues; much of this correspondence is with other women and lesbians. Letters from the 1980s include much more professional correspondence, relating to Women Make Movies, Women's Studio Workshop, National Association of Artists' Organizations, etc. Several of Dougherty's family members share first names. In correspondence, her father, Frazer Dougherty, is sometimes referred to as "Biggie," and her younger sister Page as "Boop." "CC" is Carol Clement, Dougherty's partner for several years. All folders contain both incoming and outgoing correspondence unless otherwise noted. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series III, WOMEN MAKE MOVIES, 1969-1993 (#12.1-15.10), contains Dougherty's files on the organization, which she co-founded in 1969 as a feminist collective, served as a co-director of for several years, and as a board member for many years. Material includes bylaws, meeting notes, minutes, correspondence, financial and legal records, project proposals, publicity, programs, etc. Board folders may include agendas, meeting notes, lists of committees, minutes, and financial information. Dougherty's notes and drafts of documents throughout are written on the back of Women Make Movies flyers and other documents. The series is organized chronologically.

Series IV, FILM PROJECTS AND FILMS, 1969-1993 (#15.11-18.14, FD.1), includes photographs, scripts, contracts, and notes for films Dougherty worked on, as well as her planning and research files for film-related events she organized or attended. The series is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Workshops, conferences, teaching, etc., 1971-1993 (#15.11-17.5), contains files on feminist film conferences, film classes taught by Dougherty, and other events, screenings, and workshops. Also included are general subject files on feminist film and film festivals. Dougherty was on the advisory board for the 1976 "Communication and Control" issue of Quest: A Feminist Quarterly. Catskill Gypsy Cinema was a local film series organized by Dougherty and Carol Clement upon their move to Greene County, New York. The series eventually came under the auspices of the Greene County Council on the Arts. Dougherty and Clement ran the media tent at the 1982 and 1983 Michigan Womyn's Music Festival organized by the We Want the Music Cooperative (WWTMC); several folders document this and include correspondence from conference organizers. The subseries is arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Films, 1969-1992 (#17.6-18.14, FD.1), contains material related to films Dougherty directed, shot, or produced, as well as background materials and proposals for projects that never received funding. Photographic material and/or paper documentation relating to Dougherty's films Sweet Bananas, Surviva, and Dear Sarah. . .A Report 20 Years Later can be found here, as well as other projects she worked on, including International Videoletters, a bi-monthly exchange among women in fourteen communities, Musereel #1, and Sustaining Our Planetary Home. Several folders describe a proposed but never-funded film on "The Women's Movement: The Past Seven Years," to be made by Sheila Paige, Dougherty, and Clement in 1975. Folders may contain correspondence, scripts, publicity, funding proposals, contracts with actors, etc. Subject and background files on ecofeminism can be found in Series I, Subseries A. The subseries is arranged chronologically, with folders about specific films grouped together.

Series V, ARTS ADMINISTRATION, ORGANIZATIONS, AND RELATED, 1978-1992 (#19.1-21.9sl, F+D.4), contains material related to Dougherty's work with a variety of artists' organizations, as an employee, a consultant, and a board member. Dougherty was employed by the Greene County Council on the Arts and then by Women's Studio Workshop (Women's Studio Workshop). In 1981, Women's Studio Workshop conducted a survey of funding and programming at other women artists' organizations (WAO): individual responses and overall statistics are included. Several folders cover Women's Studio Workshop's grant-funded project TARTS (Training Artists to Reach Technological Savvy); these folders include correspondence, grant proposals, etc. The failure of TARTS to secure continued funding led Dougherty to research levels of funding of other women artists' organizations; those research files are included here. Folders relating to the National Association of Artists' Organizations, of which Dougherty was a board member, include memos, annual reports, correspondence, notes, financial information, board meeting agendas and minutes, reports, grant applications, etc. As a consultant through NAAO, Dougherty provided technical assistance and planning help for a Women's Art Registry of Minnesota (WARM) 1986 conference; she also led a discussion group. The series is arranged in rough chronological order, with folders on a specific organization filed together. General subject files and writings are at the end of the series.

Series VI, ARTWORK, PHOTOGRAPHS, OVERSIZED, AND MEMORABILIA, 1947-1992 (#21.10-22.10, 23CB.1-23CB.2, PD.1-PD.28, 24FB.1-24FB.7, FD.1-FD.5, 25F+B.1v, F+D.1-F+D.7, OD.1-OD.4, SD.1, Mem.1-Mem.2), includes sketches, scrapbooks, posters, photographs, slides, negatives, a t-shirt, and a deck of tarot cards. The series is arranged in four subseries by format.

Subseries A, Artwork, 1964-1990 (#21.10-22.10, 24FB.3-24FB.7, FD.3, F+D.1, F+D.5, OD.2), contains Dougherty's sketchbooks from high school and college, as well as material used in her installation, The Proposal, a piece about the relationships between artists and arts administrators shown at Women's Studio Workshop in 1984. Loose artwork includes collage, pastel, watercolor, and tempera-based works.

Subseries B, Photographs, 1947-1992 (#PD.1-PD.28, 23CB.1-23CB.2), includes both personal photographs and those related to Dougherty's film projects and other film work. Personal photographs show Dougherty as a child and teenager, with family and friends, and includes several photographs of political demonstrations and political art shows. Two accordion-style books handmade by Dougherty include color Polaroids of her and her group of friends, primarily women, in 1974 and 1975. Photographs relating to films include publicity images, production stills taken on set, and behind the scenes photographs, including some of the editing process. The subseries is arranged beginning with personal photographs, followed by film organizations and events, and then by photographs and slides related to individual film projects.

Subseries C, Oversized, ca.1954-1988 (#24FB.1v-24FB.7, FD.1-FD.5, 25F+B.1v, F+D.1-F+D.7, OD.1-OD.4, SD.1), contains oversized material previously described above, consisting primarily of scrapbooks, sketchbooks, and posters. Artwork by Carol Clement is also included.

Subseries D, Memorabilia, 1975-ca.1979 (#Mem.1-Mem.2), contains a t-shirt from the Feminist Film and Video Organizations conference, and an Amazon tarot card deck.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database.

Additional material received on floppy disks will be reformatted at some future date.


Ariel Maria Dougherty was born May 21, 1947, in Danbury, Connecticut, to Frazer and Page Huidekoper Dougherty. Frazer Dougherty was a pilot in the South Pacific during World War II; after the war he was a test pilot for a company attempting to build an automobile-airplane, the Airphibian. It's maiden flight was the day of Ariel's birth. Page Huidekoper was a secretary to British Ambassador Joseph Kennedy before the war; she later worked as a photographer, a society and political columnist, and for liberal political organizations, including Americans for Democratic Action. The family had four children (Ariel's older brothers Frazer and Rush, and her younger sister Page Independence) and lived in Sierra Madre, California, in the early 1950s. Frazer and Page Dougherty separated in 1957 and Page moved with the children to Washington, D.C.; the divorce was finalized in March 1958. Later that same year Page married Thomas Wilson, a diplomat. Frazer Dougherty married Frances Ann Cannon and lived in New York City, with a second home in East Hampton, New York. Ariel attended Georgetown Day School, then went to Washington, D.C., public schools Gordon Junior High and Western High School. From 1962 to 1964, while in high school, she was a member of High School Students for Better Education, a student-run organization that lobbied the U.S. Congress for more money for the Washington, D.C., public school system. During 1964 and 1965, Ariel lived in Indonesia with an American family stationed at the U.S. Embassy. She completed high school by taking correspondence courses, and returned to Washington, D.C., to graduate with her classmates in June 1965.

With thoughts of becoming an artist, Dougherty enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in the fall of 1965. She continued to study art, but became more interested in film after taking the college's first film course and teaching filmmaking to children in Bronxville, New York, during 1968 and 1969. Upon graduating from Sarah Lawrence in 1969, Dougherty moved to New York City, where she continued to teach filmmaking skills: to high school students in Queens (1969-1970), to Chinese immigrant elementary school students (1970-1971), and to teachers and high school students through the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1971-1972). She also made her first film, Sweet Bananas, in 1972. In 1973 she taught film to women inmates at the Bedford Hills prison in Mt. Kisco, New York. In addition, Dougherty taught film production to women through Women Make Movies, an organization she co-founded. During this period, Dougherty met other young people who taught film skills in community settings, including Jamie Barrios, with whom she lived beginning in 1969. He was a founder of Young Filmmakers Foundation, through which Dougherty met Sheila Paige.

Women Make Movies began as a feminist collective organized in 1969 by Dougherty, Sheila Paige, and Dolores Bargowski to create women-made films that documented women's issues and lives. They were inspired by discussions in women's liberation movement meetings about the absence of documentation of women's real lives in film. Paige and Dougherty's experiences teaching youth filmmaking and publicly showing their films inspired them to create a forum in which they could teach filmmaking skills to a broader group of women. In June 1972, Women Make Movies was incorporated as a nonprofit organization. The founders taught film and video production to other women in a New York City basement they called the Chelsea Picture Station, which they hoped would also function as a community film and video center. Women Make Movies raised money to send women and their films to film festivals, held film screenings, and offered to document events of other women's groups. In 1975, Women Make Movies helped organize a bi-coastal conference of feminist film and video organizations. Dougherty and Paige served as co-directors until 1975, but their relationship became increasingly contentious, and they decided to step down. That year Women Make Movies was re-imagined as a production and distribution collective; members were required to do administrative tasks and serve on committees, and could then use equipment, attend workshops, and ask for financial help for film production and distribution. In 1978 a board of directors was recruited. Grant funding decreased throughout the 1970s, and Women Make Movies began distributing films by non-members in 1979. Through the 1980s, as grants became harder to get, film distribution became Women Make Movies's main source of income. By the end of the 1980s, the organization was primarily focused on distribution of films, as well as providing information and sometimes financial assistance to women filmmakers. Dougherty served in various functions on the board of directors from 1972 to 1978 and from 1986 through the mid-1990s.

By the mid-1970s, Dougherty's relationship with Barrios had ended. She spent more time with women friends, including many who were lesbians or women-identified women. She met Carol Clement, an animator and student, and moved with her to an apartment they called "Amazon Palace." In June 1976 Clement and Dougherty decided to leave New York City and move to upstate New York (coinciding with the end of Dougherty's stint running Women Make Movies). They lived in a variety of locations in Greene, Sullivan, and Schoharie counties in the Catskills over the next several years. In 1977, the two women founded an organization, named Artemesia, "to produce media and promote its use and development in rural areas." One of the first projects of Artemesia was the Catskill Gypsy Cinema, a film series which showed locally-made and other films in locations throughout four counties.

Dougherty taught filmmaking and film studies classes at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York (1977-1978), and at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, New York (1981). She was co-coordinator of a 1977 survey of the arts and culture industry in the Catskill Mountain region, and served as Executive Director of the Greene County Council on the Arts from 1977 to 1979. Dougherty and Clement worked on a film together, Surviva, which was completed in 1980, about a rural woman artist's struggle to support herself and her art.

In addition to Sweet Bananas and Surviva, which Dougherty conceived, filmed, directed, produced, and edited, she worked on many other women's film projects. These include Women's Happy Time Commune by Sheila Paige (camera and executive producer, 1972); Songs, Skits, Poetry and Prison Life by Bedford Hills inmates (producer and editor, 1974); educational films Rules, Rules, Rules and Mabel, Mabel (assistant editor, 1975); International Videoletters (producer, camera, editor, 1975-1976); Healthcaring from Our End of the Spectrum (producer, 1976); They Are Their Own Gifts (assistant camera, 1978); Musereel #1: Tapestry of Womanspirit (co-producer, camera, editor, 1977); and Tales of Tomorrow (co-editor, 1982).

From 1980 to 1986, Dougherty was Development Director and curator of a women's film and video series at Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York. Women's Studio Workshop was a feminist art organization that provided studio space to women artists, offered art classes, and held exhibitions. Dougherty was the initiator and national coordinator of TARTS (Teaching Artists to Reach Technological Savvy), a grant program Women's Studio Workshop created with four other women's arts groups, that provided computers and technological support from Apple Computers, from 1984 to 1986. Through her work at Women's Studio Workshop, Dougherty began to focus on general funding issues for artists' (and in particular women artists') organizations. In 1981 Women's Studio Workshop organized a survey of women artists' organizations in the United States in order to forge connections between groups, as well as provide a picture of funding problems. Dougherty served on the board of the National Association of Artists' Organizations from 1982 to 1986, and was co-chair of their Minority Task Force, where she addressed issues of funding as well as diversity. Dougherty also was able to show her own artwork at Women's Studio Workshop, and use her film editing skills to assist in other art installations. The Proposal, her installation about the relationship between artists and arts administrators that included film loops, was shown at Women's Studio Workshop in 1984, and Facelift, a video and mixed-media installation, was shown in 1985. Dougherty also collaborated on Big Book, with her film installation in the book's spine, for a Women's Studio Workshop exhibit in 1986.

Dougherty and Clement separated in 1985. At the end of 1986, Dougherty moved to East Hampton, on Long Island in New York. Her father Frazer Dougherty was running LTV, a local cable access station, and Ariel worked as the development director for nine months. She continued to be affiliated with the station as a producer and creator of programs. In 1989, for her 20th college reunion, Dougherty made Dear Sarah. . . Twenty Years Later, a color video incorporating historic documents and her own original Super-8 footage of a 1969 student sit-in at Sarah Lawrence College to protest a tuition increase and lack of diversity. While living on Long Island, she also became more interested in ecofeminism and environmental activism. Her filmmaking began to incorporate these new interests. She was involved in two live public access shows on LTV, The Recycling Show and Cultural Democracy/Ecology (a biweekly show hosted by Dougherty that focused on feminist culture, media criticism, and the environment, 1989-1992). In 1990 she helped edit Safe Planet: The Guide to Environmental Films and Video (New York: Alternative Media Information Center). Dougherty also worked on projects relating to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil in 1992 ("The Earth Summit"): a television special, Sustaining Our Planetary Home, and a video, From the Interior, Colonized, about women's position on bio-technology.

Ariel Dougherty continues to work on films about and made by women, mainly as a producer, and to advocate for gender equity in the media at large.


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1946-1993 (#1.1-8.2, 24FB.1v, FD.4, 25F+B.1v)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1957-1993 (#8.3-11.10)
  3. Series III. Women Make Movies, 1969-1993 (#12.1-15.10)
  4. Series IV. Film projects and films, 1969-1993 (#15.11-18.14, FD.1)
  5. Series V. Arts administration, organizations, and related, 1978-1992 (#19.1-21.9sl, F+D.4)
  6. Series VI. Artwork, photographs, oversized, and memorabilia, 1947-1992 (#21.10-22.10, 23CB.1-23CB.2, PD.1-PD.28, 24FB.1-24FB.7, FD.1-FD.5, 25F+B.1v, F+D.1-F+D.7, OD.1-OD.4, SD.1, Mem.1-Mem.2)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2005-M15

The papers of Ariel Dougherty were given by Ariel Dougherty to the Schlesinger Library in 2005.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Ariel Dougherty Audiovisual collection, 1952-1992 (Vt-146, MP-48, Phon-41, DVD-9, or T-349).

Processing Information

Processed: March 2009

By: Jenny Gotwals



Dougherty, Ariel. Papers of Ariel Dougherty, 1946-1993: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Radcliffe College Class of 1950 and the Radcliffe College Class of 1956.

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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